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
- Fill out a police report for your lost passport.
- Visit the State Department website, print this form and this one. Fill them out.
- Take the forms to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as they open in the morning.
- Wait in line.
- Wait in line some more.
- Show the official your police report, forms, proof of travel itinerary, and passport-sized photo.
- Do some serious people watching while you wait some more.
- Pay the fee (about $110 USD).
- Go out to eat lunch.
- Come back in the afternoon.
- Wait in line yet again.
- Get your temporary passport.
- 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.
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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