A common but dreaded question often asked by travelers is, “what to do if you lose your passport?” This is a situation that I hope you never have to experience, but is something that happens all the time. You’re traveling far away from home, and next thing you know, you misplace your passport. Or even worse, your passport is stolen.
Your first reaction will likely be to panic. You’ll start wondering how you’ll ever get home or resolve the situation. However, just remember that you’re not the first person to experience this problem. Unfortunately, it happens way too often to travelers!
What do to if you lose your passport
1. Contact the nearest embassy or consulate for your country:
You will need to report that your passport has been lost or stolen. Make sure you emphasize your departure date. If you only have a little bit of time left on your trip, then you’ll want to request a temporary emergency passport rather than a full replacement.
2. Get a passport photo:
Before heading over to the embassy, you will want to get a passport photo. Some embassies have the service, but it’s probably safer to assume that you will need to get one in advance. Plus, having one when you arrive should help to expedite the process.
3. Fill out a passport application and a statement for your lost or stolen passport:
You will need to apply for a new passport, and also report the old passport as lost or stolen to prevent someone else from using it. You will also need to show some sort of identification and travel itinerary to validate your citizenship.
4. Pay the fee:
You will need to pay the fee for a new passport or temporary emergency passport. I couldn’t find the exact cost online for US citizens, but travelers in some of the forums have reported paying around $200 for an emergency passport. If you’re unable to pay the fee, the embassy may be able to arrange payment from a friend or family member.
5. Pick-up your new passport:
If you’re getting an emergency passport, then you’ll need to wait 24-hours for the information to be verified and processed. Keep in mind that your emergency passport will only be valid until you arrive home. You will then need to apply for an official passport through the normal process.
If you have more time and want to get your official replacement passport while traveling, then you may have to wait a bit longer for the passport. From what I understand, the embassy can usually arrange for expedited processing, especially if they know you need it within a certain time frame.
Additional tips and considerations
You can easily make the process easier by following a few general preparation tips:
1. Research your country’s embassy and consulate information prior to your trip:
It’s always a good idea to have this information handy. It will save you time in case you’re not connected to the internet while traveling. If you’re a US citizen, I also recommend enrolling in the STEP program. This allows you to register your travel itinerary with the State Department so they know where you are and can proactively reach out if there are any risks or dangers. They can also send you the contact information for your local embassy and consulate.
2. Have multiple copies of your current passport:
This includes both a paper and digital copy. I mentioned this is our “10 Things to Do Before Your Trip” video/post. I carry multiple copies of my passport while traveling, and even carry one in my wallet so I can keep my passport in the hotel safe. This not only reduces the risk of losing my passport but also allows me to have all the information handy in case I need to apply for a new one at the embassy.
3. Carry spare passport photos:
Rather than having to find a place to get a spare photo, why not carry a few with you? Also, having spare photos is really useful if you happen to be traveling across a land border. I know when I traveled across the border from Thailand to Cambodia, I had to provide one as part of my visa. While I could have taken one at the border, it was a long wait. It was handy having spare photos with me.
I hope you never have to deal with this situation, but if you do, we’re hoping this video/post makes the process easier and less stressful. If you have been in this situation, please let us know if you have any other suggestions or tips.
- Lost & Stolen Passports FAQs (US State Dept)
- “How to Replace a Lost Passport Fast” (USA Today)
- “What to do if you lose your passport while traveling abroad” (Business Insider)