Foreign Office counts cost of damaged UK passports abroad
The number of UK nationals whose passports expired or were damaged while abroad and needed replacing rose by 300% last year, official figures show.
Foreign Office said there were 2,254 such "avoidable" cases of people needing emergency travel documents in 2011-12, but 9,614 in 2012-13.
It cited examples of passports put in a washing machine or used as beer mats.
Almost 30,000 cases, also including lost or stolen passports, cost millions of pounds, the Foreign Office said.
The number of UK passports reported lost or stolen abroad fell steeply last year, from 26,295 to 19,169.
In all, 28,783 emergency travel documents were issued to UK nationals in 2012-13, costing £95 each.
- About 80 emergency travel documents (ETDs) were issued to UK nationals around the world each day last year
- Of these, more than a fifth (6,005) were issued in Spain
- Consular staff in the USA issued 3,180
- In Australia, there was reportedly a sharp rise in the number of Britons having to obtain ETDs as their passport became no longer valid
Such documents are usually issued to people who need to leave a country but do not have time to get a replacement passport. They permit travel to a destination via a maximum of five countries.
In can take several days to obtain an emergency travel document, the Foreign Office warned.
It then costs about £70 to £80 in addition to replace the original passport.
Will Middleton, the Foreign Office's consular director for southern Europe, said: "Our staff deal with people every day who require ETDs for a range of reasons.
"Some are victims of crime, but we also hear of passports being damaged carelessly, like becoming damaged after being hidden in the freezer.
"These are situations that could have been avoided and end up costing holidaymakers valuable time and money.
"We strongly advise people to look after their passport, keep it safe and check its validity well in advance of travel.
"Simple steps such as locking your passport in a safe if you have access to one and carrying a photocopy with you can help prevent problems later on."