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Damage and Protection Tips for your Passport

Is my passport too damaged to travel?

Your passport is one of your most valuable possessions, especially when travelling. It's the one item that allows you to re-enter your home country, even if your luggage takes a detour or you drop your wallet somewhere between the taxi and the airport lounge.

But knowing where your passport is and having it on you is just one ticked box. If it becomes too damaged, it could be invalid. So what can you do to protect it and what counts as too damaged?

Is the damage beyond reasonable wear and tear?

Your passport is inevitably prone to wear and tear, no matter how carefully you handle it. It gets passed back and forth at Passport Control, in bars when used as ID and a myriad of other times when your passport is used to confirm your identity.

Eventually, your passport will become either too damaged to use or it'll be due for renewal (every ten years for a British Passport). Too damaged is officially classed as 'beyond reasonable wear and tear'. The following are the most common factors to watch out for:

Missing pages - whether accidentally or on purpose, torn out pages invalidate your passport. Small rips and tears could occur if you don't take care with where you keep your passport when its not being checked. Be careful that these don't result in a completely missing page.

Chew marks - of any kind will invalidate your passport. So that includes your dog and any number of pets that might decide to have a nibble on an edge if they get the chance. Small children are also prone to learning orally and might decide to turn your precious travel document into a chew toy, so keep your passport firmly out of reach.

Unofficial page marks - different countries have different stamps to mark when you enter the country and how long you can stay. These are the only marks allowed so be careful not to absentmindedly test your pen works or jot down a note.

Watch out for water damage!

Frequent travels and the reliably wet British weather might mean that you get soaked travelling to and from the airport - or on your travels. Keeping your passport in a plastic folder or wallet will help keep it dry.

Also, don't hold your passport in your mouth. Its tempting to casually use your "third hand" when juggling luggage but apart from being a bit unsanitary, Passport Control aren't very receptive to being passed something direct from mouth.

Should you get a case for your passport?

We have fancy cases for just about everything nowadays. Even items like phones - which are supposed to be built to avoid being easily damaged - are put in cases, sometimes for protection but also for adding personality.

Expressing your personal style with a fun case for your passport isn't unreasonable but bear in mind that most Passport Controls will ask you to remove it or wrench it out themselves. So to avoid this damaging your passport, think carefully before you get a cover in the first place.

However, if you're likely to throw your passport in your bag or between books on speedy journeys then a case could avoid snags and light spillages.

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