You’re finally on that dream holiday you’ve planned for months. You made your flights, packed perfectly, budgeted wisely, and now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your vacation. You’re so relaxed and it seems nothing could possibly go wrong now until you realize you have no idea where your passport is at. Suddenly panic sets in. Losing your passport is a common fear for most travelers because it can be quite a pain to try to sort it all out. But with the right information, you’ll know exactly what to do if it happens to you.
Personal Lost Passport Story…
In May of 2019, I was hanging out in Grenoble, France as I often do. It was a really awesome day and I planned to do some shopping. It seemed like nothing in the world could go wrong. I’d soon learn that this positive perspective was incorrect. Life has a habit of reminding you it can be tough sometimes and this was one of those moments. I looked down to where I placed my bag next to my feet and realized the bag was gone. I specifically placed it in the corner of two walls so no one could actually get to it unless they really tried. I figured if they tried then I would see or, at the very least, someone else would see and say something. Luckily, there was nothing of value inside the backpack…except for my passport.
Yes, that’s right, the one thing I never wanted stolen was gone. The thief likely took the bag hoping there was a laptop or my wallet inside. Since there was nothing of real value to anyone else, I felt I gained a small victory and thief got nothing. They likely dumped my bag in trash bin somewhere. I had about 5 minutes of panic and then started looking around the area. I searched outside and then I decided it was time to start the process of figuring out how I was going to return home since I didn’t have a passport anymore. Lucky for me, I figured it all out. I was able to get an emergency passport fairly quickly and get back to the United States at my scheduled time.
What To Do If You Lose Your Passport
Alright, so you’ve lost your passport. Now what? Lucky for you, it’s all laid out below. There is no need to panic though you probably will at least for a second. I did! Just follow these simple steps below and you will be good to go.
Take a Deep Breath
The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and clear your mind. You’ve just lost the most important document to a traveler. It’s your ticket to freedom and now it is gone. This can definitely make you feel a little crazy. Trust me when I say it is even worse when your passport is stolen. You have to deal with losing your passport and feeling like a stranger has violated you. Take a deep breath and know that is going to turn out alright. The passport is gone.
The logical thing to do is look around your immediate area to see if your bag or the passport was moved somehow. Perhaps someone picked it up by mistake. Take a few minutes to look around and ask people if they’ve seen your possessions. Go outside and look in any trash cans or up any nearby alleyways. A thief might have dropped it somewhere knowing it is of no value to them.
If you don’t find you lost passport anywhere then it’s time to start the official process of dealing with it. The first step is to report the stolen passport to the local police. It can be quite the ordeal dealing with foreign police, especially if you don’t speak the language, but it’s really important to file a report and have print out of it. It will make getting an emergency passport much easier when you are ready. Go to the police station yourself or have your hotel call the police for you. The latter option is better if you do not speak the local language very well as the hotel staff can help you translate. Make sure to have some other form of identification on you, if possible.
Gather Supporting Documents
After you’ve filed your police report, it’s time to gather as much documentation as you can in order to prove your identity so you can have an easier time getting a replacement or emergency passport. You’ll also need to prove your passport was stolen which is why the police report is important. On top of that, you’ll need to make sure you have two specific forms filled out though you can usually do this at the US Embassy.
Here is all the documentation you need to provide. The ones marked with a star are required.
- *The police report, stating you’re passport was stolen or lost.
- *Form DS-11, New Passport Form.
- *Form DS-64, Statement regarding lost or stolen passport.
- *Government issued photo ID, your driver’s license or military ID will work. I also provided my Global Entry ID and the US Embassy accepted it.
- Photo copy of your passport, not required but definitely helps.
- Color Passport Photo, in many countries you can get these at kiosks located everywhere or at a pharmacy.
Now you need to locate the nearest US Embassy or Consulate Office. As an American citizen, you don’t need to make an appointment and can just show up. My passport was stolen in France and I was able to skip the long line of people applying for visas. You’ll report your passport was stolen to the people at the embassy. Once you do this, your lost or stolen passport is no longer valid for travel and cannot be revalidated.
As with anything in life, there is an associated financial cost with dealing with a lost or stolen passport. At the US Embassy, you will need to pay a fee to replace your passport and be issued an emergency passport. It’ll cost you over $130 to replace your passport. Mine cost $145 plus another $60 for expedited service. I also paid $15 for overnight shipping which brought the total cost to $220. Pretty steep!
Wait for the Replacement
Typically you can expect a wait time of 4-6 weeks unless you pay for expedited processing and overnight shipping. If you are abroad and have plans to travel in the 24 hours to few days, then you will be issues and Emergency Passport. It’s only really good to get you back the United States because most countries don’t accept it. Therefore it is limited. As soon as you get home, you’ll need to mail it in and get a fully valid passport. I did this and still did not receive my passport in a timely manner. After paying for expedited service and shipping, my passport arrived nearly 4 weeks later. You’ll want to plan for this contingency…especially if you have upcoming travel plans. Be aware that embassies and consulates can not issue passports on the weekend of public holidays.
Helpful Passport Tips
1) Don’t keep your passport on you. It’s better to leave it in your hotel safe or somewhere else you trust. That’s the mistake I made and look where I ended up.
2) Keep a photo copy of your passport page in a location away from your passport. I keep mine in the cloud so I can access it from anywhere should the need arise. You might try keeping a hard copy in your luggage or somewhere safe. It helps prove your citizenship and makes the process of replacing a lost passport easier.
3) If your passport is lost or stolen, you report it to the US Embassy or Department of State, and it’s canceled, then it is no longer valid for travel. Should you find it later, don’t try using it. It won’t work.
4) Once you have your new passport, be sure to update your Global Entry membership by logging in the trusted traveler program website with your new passport information. You’ll also need to update all your airline memberships with the new information. If you don’t, you’ll likely be questioned by Department of Homeland Security people at some airports.
5) Travel insurance can help cover the cost of getting a replacement passport including flight change fees. If you have travel insurance, check your policy. Also, some credit cards include similar benefits.
Pin Me, Please!