Picture this: you’re enjoying yourself on the incredible vacation you’ve been planning for several months. You made sure to take all the necessary precautions of printing backup copies of your flight itineraries, your hotel confirmation and your ground transportation details.
However, halfway through your amazing trip, you realize you can’t find your U.S passport and panic starts to set in. Dealing with a lost or stolen passport while traveling abroad can be a helpless feeling. There are probably a million questions that cross your mind, such as what do I do first? Can I call the U.S. government from abroad? How am I going to get back to the United States again?
Before you fret, there is good news; there are several steps you can take to rectify the situation and deal with your lost or stolen passport like an expert. Explore our top tips for navigating this scary situation so you’re able to get back to enjoying your vacation. These tips will also ensure that you’ll be well prepared the next time you travel out of the country! Let’s get started.
Step #1: Find the Nearest U.S Embassy
Once you realize that you have a lost or stolen passport, before you do anything else, find the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you’re visiting. They are the organization that is going to help issue you your new passport. To locate them, head somewhere that has an internet connection somewhere such as a coffee shop or a hotel and consult the following online resources:
- U.S. Embassy Website
- Contact information for the U.S. embassies and consulates is also available on the U.S. Department of State’s website.
- You may also wish to contact the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C, at 1-888-407-4747.
Once you’re at the embassy, you’ll want to ask to speak to the Consular Section to report your lost or stolen passport. They will guide you through the process and let you know the exact steps that you need to take. If you’re scheduled to leave the country that you’re visiting soon, be sure to let them know so they’re able to set things in motion as soon as possible.
When you lose your passport in a foreign country, you will be given a one-year limited passport in order to return to the United States. You will have one year from the issue date of the limited passport to mail it back for a regular 10-year passport. In order to initiate that process, you would need to send in proof of citizenship, a new photo, the letter mailed to you accompanying the limited passport, a new photo, form DS-5504 and a copy of your ID. If you delay beyond the 1-year validity of the limited passport, you will need to take the extra step of visiting a passport office to have your identity verified rather than just mailing it in.
Pro Tip: Research Where the Nearest US Embassy is Before a Trip
Before you take off for your next trip overseas, consider researching where the nearest U.S. embassy is relative to your vacation destination. This will ensure you’re super prepared and know exactly where to go in the event that you’re dealing with a lost or stolen passport again.
Step #2: File a Police Report for Your Lost or Stolen Passport
If you are confident that your passport was stolen rather than misplaced, be sure to file a report at the local police station. That way, local authorities can begin looking for whoever took it, and ideally, help prevent them from stealing additional passports in the future.
Also, in certain countries, you cannot get a new passport issued until you have officially reported your original one missing, so this is an important step to take. If you’re unsure of where to find the nearest police station, ask staff members at the U.S. embassy and they can point you in the right direction.
Pro Tip: Make Copies of Your Passport Information
Although no one can foresee a lost or stolen passport, it’s always better to be over prepared in the event you’re ever forced to deal with this situation while on a trip overseas. As you’re packing for your next trip out of the country, make photocopies of your passport information as well as your drivers license. Be sure to pack those backup copies in a different bag than your original copies, in the event you lose your purse or luggage. That way, when you’re dealing with a lost or stolen passport, you will still have the backup copies to prove to the U.S. embassy that you are who you say you are when filing for a new passport. In addition, be sure to take pictures on your phone of all these documents (passport and drivers’ license) and email them to yourself, that way you will always have a stored copy somewhere that you can access.
Step #3: Gather and Print the Required New Passport Paperwork
When experiencing a lost or stolen passport, there is a lot of paperwork that comes along with rectifying the situation. If you’re able to, get a head start on the process by printing a DS-11 and a DS-64 form from the U.S. embassy’s website before you head to the embassy. Fill out the form as best as you can and also try to locate any other forms of identification you have on you.
While at the embassy, some of the additional paperwork and things you’ll need to obtain include:
- Getting a new passport photo. The embassy will let you know where you can go to get a new picture taken.
- Providing a written statement about where and when you may have misplaced your lost or stolen passport.
- Filling out a standard application for a new U.S. passport.
If you have access to any of the following forms of identification, they will come in handy:
- A driver’s license
- Proof of travel such e.g. travel itinerary or copy of plane tickets
- Evidence of US citizenship such as, a copy of your birth certificate
- Your copy of the recent police report you filed for your lost or stolen passport.
Pro Tip: Set Aside an Emergency ‘Lost or Stolen Passport’ Fund
Unfortunately, dealing with a lost or stolen passport can be a bit expensive. You will be required to pay a fee for your new passport when you apply. You will also incur costs when you get a new passport photo taken. There may be additional costs of traveling to the local police station and finding the nearest U.S. embassy. Consider packing an additional “just in case” fund when you travel abroad in the event you run into issues with your lost or stolen passport and need to pay some of these out-of-pocket, unexpected fees.
Step #4: Try to Remain Patient
This step may be the most challenging of them all! Although the U.S. embassy in the country that you’re visiting will do their best to help you as quickly as they can, it may take a bit of time to get your new passport. Also, it’s important to note that the embassy cannot issue a passport during the weekend or over a holiday. There may be very rare exceptions, such as a life or death emergency, but otherwise, you will need to wait until Monday morning.
How quickly you will be issued a new passport will depend on your travel plans. In certain cases, you may be able to obtain an emergency passport that will come in approximately 24 hours or so, which would get you back to the U.S. but would not be valid for travel anywhere else. In most situations, it will take at a minimum, several days to get your new passport delivered to the country you’re located in.
Pro Tip: Contact the Passport Office about Your Lost or Stolen Passport
If you’re within the United States and need a replacement passport, The Passport Office can help. Our experienced professionals specialize in walking people through dealing with a lost or stolen passport situation. In a few easy steps, we will have the correct paperwork filed and your documents prepared for processing.