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Lost Your US Passport Abroad? What To Do Now

Lost Your US Passport Abroad? What To Do Now Travels with Bibi

After wrapping up a trip of a lifetime, it’s time to go home. Your bags are packed and you’ve triple checked the itinerary, downloaded the boarding pass to your phone, and made sure nothing was left behind in that awesome Airbnb you stayed at last night.

But something super important is missing. Your passport. Now what do you do?

When planning for trips abroad, the last thing on the minds of most travelers is an overseas emergency. Losing your passport can be a serious trip buzz killer, but it’s not the end of the world. Follow the tips laid out below to get your passport replaced so you can be on your way home with a new passport in hand.

You’ve Lost Your Passport

Losing your passport is a huge inconvenience and thankfully, it’s not terribly difficult to get a new one. However, the passport the U.S. Embassy issues while you are overseas is an emergency temporary passport with limited validity of either three or six months. It’s basically valid just long enough to get you home and isn’t meant for long-term travel.

To better prepare for the potential of losing your passport, ease the stress by bringing along a second form of ID (a driver’s license is perfect) and a photocopy of your passport every time you travel. No matter your level of preparation though, the following tips will help you get a new passport so you can get back to the United States.

File a Police Report

If you’re certain that your lost passport is due to theft, head to the nearest police station to file a report to prevent a case of identity theft. This written confirmation is not absolutely necessary, but can help eliminate any potential trouble with criminal investigations down the line.

Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate

Find your closest U.S. embassy or consulate to inform the authorities of your situation. Make the details of your itinerary very clear if you have imminent plans to return to the U.S., as that makes you eligible for an emergency passport.

Emergency passports are normally issued within 24 hours and will get you out of the country quickly but are only valid for a limited period of time. Once you return to the U.S., you will need to apply for a new full passport, which will last for ten years.

If you still have some time remaining in your current country, you’ll be directed to renew your passport normally. This will normally take a few business days, as a new passport needs to be mailed from the U.S.

If you are traveling on a UK passport, check out this article on what to do if you lose your passport.

Bring Everything You Need

To save time, make sure you visit the embassy armed with all the documents you need. This includes a passport photo, so call the embassy ahead of time to find out the best places to get it. You’ll also need your driver’s license, copies of your travel tickets, a $110 replacement fee, and a police report if you filed one.

During the appointment at the embassy, you’ll be asked to fill out an application form and a statement describing how the passport went missing. You can print the forms ahead of time if you have access to a printer, but you should be able to fill them out at the embassy if you don’t.

Losing your passport is a serious hassle. Here is how the process will most likely go, so pack your patience when you head out to the embassy:

The Process In a Nutshell

  1. Fill out a police report for your lost passport.
  2. Visit the State Department website, print this form and this one. Fill them out.
  3. Take the forms to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as they open in the morning.
  4. Wait in line.
  5. Wait in line some more.
  6. Show the official your police report, forms, proof of travel itinerary, and passport-sized photo.
  7. Do some serious people watching while you wait some more.
  8. Pay the fee (about $110 USD).
  9. Go out to eat lunch.
  10. Come back in the afternoon.
  11. Wait in line yet again.
  12. Get your temporary passport.
  13. Jump for joy because you’re no longer stuck in a foreign country.

Replacing the Emergency Passport

When you return home, replace your emergency passport at no cost with a fully valid passport as long as you submit it while the emergency passport is still valid. You may have to submit proof of citizenship and proof of identity if you did not have the required proof when you applied for the emergency passport. Check the endorsement on the last page of the emergency passport. If it mentions 22 CFR 51.41, you’ll need to submit proof of citizenship to replace it. If it mentions 22 CFR 51.28, you need proof of identity.

Final Thoughts

I won’t fib and say that losing your passport abroad isn’t a hassle because it seriously is. But these steps will help ensure that you’re able to get a new passport and return home as quickly as possible after all of the potential red tape delays are satisfied.

Have you ever lost your passport? Let us know about your experience in a comment below.

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39 Comments

    1. I’m going to Ireland in a couple weeks so you know I made three copies of my passport….you never know!

  1. My workmate just lost his passport and hearing of his struggles it sounds exhausting. Couldn’t help but laugh when I saw this in my news feed.

  2. one of my biggest fears! we were just in guatemala and my friends and i checked and triple checked every time we could that we had our passport!

  3. I am always paranoid about losing my passport. I take a picture of it every time before I leave and email it to myself in case I ever get lost I have an electronic version!

  4. Great info! I always keep a photocopy on me but I didn’t know you could get a temporary pass to get home. Good to know, because I lose things!!!

  5. My teenage son is traveling abroad this summer and the people he’s traveling with told him to make two copies of his passport, one to leave at home and the other to bring with him and keep separate from his real passport. Seems like great advice!

  6. This is great to know! I lost my phone, credit card and ID almost immediately upon arrival in Paris a few years ago. I nearly had a heart attack! Luckily I still had my passport – though I was incredibly scared to lose that too!

  7. I love this post! I would definitely bring my passport with me whenever I can but who knows what will happen! Thanks for sharing ♥️ ♥️ By any chance you are interested on doing collaborations, you can check out the collaborations portal of Phlanx.com and connect with amazing brands!

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  8. This is so incredibly helpful. We were recently pickpocketed in Croatia and we were so lucky we still had our passports. My nightmare is that I hold a passport of a 3rd world country so they don’t always have a consulate in every city. So I get really paranoid!

  9. Thank you for the tips. I want to start saving for a trip that we will take in a few years. First thing on list is get passports for everyone. We will try not to lose them, but things happen and this will help me be prepared.

  10. Such a scary prospect of losing a passport overseas.. but it does happen! This is a great guide on what to do if this ever happens to you!

  11. Excellent info! I’m headed to the UK for a couple of weeks this summer, and have just adjusted my packing list to include copies of our passports. Thanks!

  12. This is one of my biggest fears while travelling, but I always try to be diligent and keep copies. Great post on the steps that someone should follow if they find themselves in that unfortunate situation.

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