If you’ve ever had that scary moment of not locating your passport, today’s article steps through what to do if it’s really gone.
Lost and Frantic — Dealing with Lost Passports
Dealing with Lost Passports
As a travel professional, I have a network of colleagues where we exchange ideas, share informed recommendations, and ask for advice. A recent topic came up about dealing with lost passports while traveling and I thought that was a good topic to discuss, as it’s the type of thing where being aware ahead of time is valuable rather than dealing with it in a worried or frantic state.
Discovering your passport is missing is definitely a moment of dismay, and will affect your travel schedule as you work to resolve the situation. But it is an issue that can be dealt with as long as you understand the process.
Be Calm. When you first discover your passport is missing, be calm and methodical in retracing your steps and searching your belongings. Often while traveling we’re in a hurry and put the passport in a different place than normal, so be patient before instantly assuming it’s lost or stolen.
Contact nearest US Embassy or Consulate. After a thorough search to confirm the passport is missing, you’ll need to contact the nearest US consulate or embassy to inform them that your passport is stolen or misplaced. Click here for information on embassy locations in various countries. However, once you do this your passport is flagged, so if you later find your passport, it’s no longer valid. So, that patience from step one is really important.
File a police report. If your passport was stolen, you’ll need to file a police report. You’ll need the police report for your travel insurance.
Complete forms online. You’ll need to complete a new application for Passport – DS-11, the same form you filled out previously for your passport. You’ll also need to complete DS-64, the Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport.
Plan to get to the Embassy/Consulate. To replace a missing or stolen passport, you’ll need to go to the nearest embassy or consulate. That’s easy when you are in the main city of a country but could be very inconvenient if you are visiting towns and villages in the countryside.
On one of my group trips in Ireland, a client discovered that her passport was missing while we were in Killarney, and the embassy is in Dublin. So we had to plan for her to ride the train from Killarney to Dublin, stay at a hotel near the embassy, be at the embassy bright and early the following morning, with a late train trip at the end of the day to get back to Killarney.
Regardless of the inconveniences or trip plan revisions you have to make, the only way to get a replacement passport is to go to the consulate or embassy. Depending on the particular location, you can make an appointment online or via phone [Find the closest consulate/embassy here], or otherwise be at the consulate or embassy when they open and be willing to wait.
Prepare for your appointment. You will need to have identification with you, so it’s a good idea to carry your driver’s license even you aren’t planning to drive, and a copy of your passport. You’ll also need a passport photo – if you renewed your passport shortly before traveling, take an extra 2″x2″ photo with you and store in separate place in your luggage; otherwise, plan to stop at a passport photo shop before going to the embassy or consulate. You should also take a copy of your travel itinerary with your flight and accommodation details.
You’ll pay the standard $165 charge plus expedited services fees of $60. The passport you receive is an emergency passport only good for a year, but when you get home you can exchange it for a regular passport that’s valid for 10 years.
Consulates and embassies issue passports on weekdays only – no weekends or holidays.
From the Department of State, here’s the summary of your list of items to take to your appointment:
- A Passport Photo (one photo is required; get it in advance to speed the process of replacing your passport)
- Identification (driver’s license, expired passport etc.)
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
- Travel Itinerary (airline/train tickets)
- Police Report, if available
- DS-11 Application for Passport (may be completed at time of application)
- DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport (may be completed at time of application)
So, to help prevent having to go through this process, make sure you keep your passport in the same place every time you travel and keep it secured when it’s not needed to avoid theft. Hopefully this is one of my travel tips you’ll never use.