Losing a passport isn’t a situation anyone wants to be in, regardless of where they are in the world. However, if a passport goes missing while in another country, it will be much more inconvenient than misplacing it at home. Many travelers can relate to that moment of panic on the way to the airport as they question whether or not they remembered their passports.
Luckily, it’s usually resting securely in a pocket or backpack, and the panic quickly fades. But what if it’s nowhere to be found? Worse still, what if you are in a foreign country and trying to get back home? Don’t panic. You’ll still be able to get back home, but it will be a bit more complicated than initially planned.
The Very First Step To Take If Your Passport Goes Missing While Abroad
If your passport goes missing while abroad, and you are certain you’ve checked everywhere, you need to act quickly, especially if you will be traveling home soon. Whether or not it was lost or stolen, there is one step you need to take as quickly as possible.
Report your passport as lost or stolen as soon as possible. Should it fall into the wrong hands, you risk falling victim to identity theft. Make sure to report it as lost or stolen on the State Department’s Portal as soon as you know for certain your passport is missing. Keep in mind once it is reported as lost or stolen, you will not be able to use it for travel! As a result, make sure you are 100% certain it is not going to turn up after you’ve reported it missing.
Victim Of Theft?
After reporting your passport as stolen, it can be good practice to file a police report with local authorities, especially if more than just your passport was stolen. This is helpful for filing a claim with travel insurance companies, as many will cover the cost of replacing your passport and your stolen items.
Additionally, the State Department recommends filing a police report with local police in either case, whether lost or stolen, as doing so can help confirm the loss or theft. However, they also point out that if your travel out of the country is very soon, it’s best not to spend the extra time filing a police report.
Can You Travel Back To The U.S. Without A Passport?
In short, no. In some rare cases, travelers may be able to enter the U.S. by land or sea with an Enhanced Driver’s License. However, in most cases, it will not be possible to travel back to the United States without a valid passport. All U.S. citizens must present a valid passport when traveling to or from the U.S. by air.
Lost Or Stolen Passport: Steps To Take As Quickly As Possible
After reporting your passport as lost or stolen and perhaps filing a police report, there are several steps you need to take as quickly as possible to make sure that you are able to travel back to the United States during your originally scheduled travel dates.
- Gather Documents: You are going to need to contact a U.S. Embassy or consulate, but before you do, you should gather supporting documents to make the process go as quickly as possible. You will need the following:
- A Passport Photo
- ID: Such as a driver’s license
- Evidence of U.S. Citizenship: Birth certificates, photocopies of your missing passport
- Travel Itinerary
- Police Report: If applicable
- Form DS-11: Application for Passport
- Form DS-64: Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport
- Go to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate and ask to speak with the Consular Section: If you’ve been a victim of crime, make sure you let the consular office know for quick assistance. If you are leaving the country soon, make sure you share your travel details so they can try to help you make your travel date. (Note: Most Embassies and Consulates can’t issue passports on Holidays or weekends)
- Get Your New Passport: Processing times can vary, and the type of passport you receive depends on how soon your travel plans are. If your travel plans are urgent, you will likely be issued a limited-validity, emergency passport that will allow you to travel back to the United States, where you will have to get a full replacement passport. If you are able to get a full replacement while abroad, the new passport will be valid for 10 years and will cost $130 (at the time of this writing).
Things To Keep In Mind
Losing your passport in another country will certainly be stressful. However, know that you are not the first person to experience this, and the Embassies and Consulates will provide all the assistance they can. Accidents happen, and although it may seem like the end of the world, you will be home safe and sound before you know it. However, the best situation would be to never be in this situation in the first place. Here are a few tips for making sure this never happens to you and a few to keep in mind just in case:
- Lock It Up: Once you get to your hotel, lock your passport in your hotel safe.
- Photocopies: It’s a good idea to always travel with photocopies of important documents like your passport, birth certificate, and driver’s license. Electronic copies are also helpful.
- Have A Designated Pocket: It’s easy to misplace things in the chaos that accompanies getting through the airport. Make sure to pick a designated spot for your passport, so you always know whether or not you have it with you.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com