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Safe Travels: Lost Passport, Now What?

Lost PassportReading Time: 3 minutes

There’s nothing else that will send you into a panic like losing your passport, especially while traveling abroad. After all, without it you are stranded in a foreign country and may be unsure about how you will manage to get home again.

Why is Your Passport so Important?

Your passport is essentially as (if not more) important as your airplane ticket. If you have one, it allows you to gain access to cross international borders temporarily while also acting as your form of national identification for immigration services, showing your legal status as a citizen from your home country. As well as giving you permission to enter foreign countries, it is required to return to your home country too. It is your lifeline while traveling, and without it you may feel lost and full of dread at the thought of replacing it. Don’t fear; the process for replacing a lost passport is fairly straightforward if you go through the right channels. Follow the simple steps below to ensure a quick, timely and hassle-free replacement that will have you back in the air in no time.

What Steps Can I Take to Prevent Losing My Passport?

Use the following techniques to prevent and mitigate the risk of passport theft:

  • Be a Cautious Traveler – Keep it Hidden!

    This may seem pretty obvious, but it is still the best defense against theft. Protect it like you would your cash or credit card. Avoid keeping it in the compartments of your backpack or your back pocket, as this will be an easy target for pickpockets. Consider purchasing a safe travel pouch that you can wear under your shirt, enabling you to keep your valuables secure and hidden on your person at all times.

  • Only Take it Out When Necessary.

    Be sure to only show your passport to government officials at the airport and put it away quickly afterwards.

  • Do Not Store it in Your Check in Luggage.

    Always Keep Your Passport on You While in Transit to Prevent it From Being Taken Out of Your Bag.

  • Keep a Copy.

    Try and keep a physical and digital copy of your passport at all times should anything go wrong during your travels.

  • Store it Securely at Your Destination.

    Unless you require it as a form of identity on a certain day, be sure to make use of the hotel safe – lock it away until you need it for traveling again.

What Can I Do if I Lose My Passport?

If you can’t locate your passport, take the following steps to ensure a speedy and seamless replacement:

  • Go to the Police.

    There will generally be someone at the station who can speak English. Reporting a lost or stolen identity document is a crucial first step – the police will take your statement and issue you an official legal document stating that you are missing your travel document. You will need this statement in order to apply for a new one.

  • Contact Your Country’s Nearest Embassy or Consulate.

    Ask your hotel, the police, or search online for directions to the nearest embassy or consulate. A list of embassies, consulates and their contact details can be found on the US Government website. They generally keep regular office hours, so be sure to find out when these are before attempting to enter. Bring as much information as possible regarding your identity as this will expedite the process. A list to have handy would be: Two recent passport photos, parents’ names and dates of birth, your own birth date, and social security number. You will also need a copy of your passport information, so don’t forget to obtain one before traveling!

  • Fill Out the Replacement Form.

    Using the information mentioned earlier, you will need to fill out a short replacement form and pay a replacement processing fee. This will be available at the embassy/consulate or online on the U.S. State Departments website.

  • Receive Your Temporary Passport.

    Typically, it will only take a few hours before you will be issued a temporary travel document that will enable you to get home. These are usually valid for a 90-day period.

  • Get a New Passport.

    Don’t worry, you usually won’t have to pay again for this. As soon as your home, make sure to get a new passport as soon as possible so that when the travel bug next takes hold, you can leave in an instant!

What Risks are Associated with a Lost Passport?

Having your passport stolen can have some truly undesirable consequences. It may turn the holiday of your dreams into your worst nightmare. Should you lose a passport once, be certain to take care of the next one. Your passport is of paramount importance. If fit falls into the wrong hands, you could be subject to identity fraud. On top of this, needing a passport replaced more than once can send a red flag to homeland security. They may become suspicious that you are losing it on purpose to allow foreigners or terrorists into your home country, and the process becomes much more complicated. Be aware abroad and keep that document safe!