I Lost My Passport While Abroad – What Do I Do?

Whether it was stolen or misplaced, losing your passport can be an extremely stressful situation. If that happens to you, don’t panic – we can help. 

In this article, we will share the steps you need to take once you’ve realized your passport is missing. We’ll also explore the process of getting a new passport, as well as what documents are required before flying across international borders. You can also use these tips if your passport is lost or stolen while on vacation in the United States.

The moment you realize that your passport is missing, lost, or stolen, the next step to take is:

Report to the appropriate authorities

Why is this important?

Your passport is an essential document that allows you to travel internationally. Without it, you won’t be able to travel back home. But also, it is important that you report your lost passport immediately because if the wrong person finds it, they could steal your identity or use it to perpetrate criminal or illegal acts. 

If you were robbed and your passport was stolen, it is important that you report the theft and get a police report. This way, you will be exonerated from any criminal activity the thief plans to use your passport for.

Reporting a lost or stolen passport immediately will enable you to request a new one immediately.

Important things to note about reporting a lost passport:

  1. Once you report your passport as lost or stolen, it will immediately be invalidated and will no longer be accepted for traveling.
  2. Once your passport is reported as lost or stolen, you cannot request to have it re-validated. 
  3. Consulates and embassies cannot issue passports on weekends and holidays. If your passport is lost or stolen, you will have to wait until the next business day to sort it out. This is of course, with exception of life-or-death emergencies; in which case you can contact an after-hours duty officer to issue a temporary passport.

Now that you have reported your lost passport, what do you need to do next?

Requesting a new passport

If you are abroad, you will need to contact your home country to have them issue a new passport. The easiest way to do this is to contact your consulate or national embassy in the country you’re in. You might need to provide a couple of recent passport photographs while you’re there. They will also ask to see any other valid means of identification such as a driver’s license – to confirm your identity. You might also be asked to present your birth certificate.

Once this is sorted, you will be required to fill in an application form for a new passport. You can print out the forms here and here, then fill them out and take them along with you to the embassy. Less waiting time!

In most cases, the embassy won’t be able to issue a new passport immediately. However, they will give you an emergency travel document (this is also known as an emergency passport) that’ll allow you to travel back home. Temporary passports typically have a three to six months validity. So we recommend that you replace the temporary passport with an original one immediately after you return home.

How much does it cost to replace my passport?

If you are a US citizen, you’ll need to pay a $110 USD application fee to request a new passport. There’s also a $35 USD execution fee. The application and replacement process takes about 6 weeks. However, with a $60 USD expedited service fee, you can get it in 2 to 3 weeks.

A temporary passport costs around the same amount and can be issued within 24 hours at the consulate or embassy.

If all your valuables have been stolen along with your passport, or you are a victim of a serious crime and cannot afford to pay for a temporary passport, the embassy can help you call someone (a friend or family member) who can pay the fees on your behalf.

Now, let’s address another question that might be bugging you…

What happens to my visa if I lose my passport?

If your lost passport had any visas or visa waivers, you will have to replace or re-apply for them. 

How come? 

Well, your new passport or temporary passport will have a different passport number from the one you lost. This automatically invalidates any visas that had been approved with your old passport number. So, once your passport is lost or stolen, you have to reapply for travel authorization as well.

Keep your documents safe when traveling

Once you’ve got a passport replacement, there are steps you can take to reduce the chances of losing your passport while traveling abroad. They include:

  • While traveling, it is best to keep your passport in your carry-on luggage or handbag at all times. 
  • Leave your original documents in your hotel room or lock them in the hotel safety box. Only take them with you when absolutely necessary.
  • If you have to take your passport with you, keep it hidden with other valuables like cash and credit cards. Don’t leave it in an exposed exterior pocket to avoid attracting the attention of pick-pockets.

Other important precautions to take

Make photocopies of all relevant documents before leaving. These include your ID card, passport, travel insurance, health cards, etc. Although this might not reduce the chances of losing your passport, it does make it easier to produce the necessary documents you’ll need to request a replacement. You can also scan these documents and upload the soft copies to the cloud or send them to your email address. This way, even if you lose your phone and laptop, you can always log in on another device and retrieve the files.

Losing your passport when traveling abroad is a huge inconvenience. However, if you follow the steps outlined above, you can have it replaced in time to catch your flight back home!

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