New to this forum & not sure if this is the right place to post this question as it's a bit of a technical one but hey....
I need to get a new UK passport, but here's my dimlemma: I don't remember ever having had one in the past (cos you'd think you'd remember such an important thing wouldn't you?!). However back in 1998 I did travel from UK to Cyprus (Greek half) & back again on holiday. Now how did I do that without a passport? Does anyone vaguely recall not needing a passport to travel to certain countries back then & was Cyprus one of those countries?
Secondly, as I genuinely do not know if I've ever had a passport or not though I have been abroad, if I apply for a replacement passport & say I've lost it, will I be penalised (financially or otherwise) if it then turns out I never had one? Or if I apply as a first time applicant & they then find I have had one will I be penalised for that? And of course one of those options takes a lot longer than the other.
Hm. I seem to recall that there is no legal reason why you shouldn't be able to travel anywhere in the EU from the UK without a passport, just that in practice it's extremely difficult to do so. You may have been lucky with the Cyprus trip. I certainly wouldn't bank on being allowed on a boat or a plane leaving the UK without having a passport.
Regarding not knowing about whether you've had a passport, you need to contact the Identity & Passport Service for advice on that. They're sure to be more sympathetic if you're upfront about your situation than if you try to blag it one way or another, they should be able to look up whether you've had one in the past.
How old were you in 1998 and who did you travel with? parents? It used to be that children under the age of 16 travelled under their parents passport and so didnt need to have a passport on their own, over the last 5 years or so the rules have changed and now everyone needs to have their own passport. Could this be the case as to why you don't remember having a passport?