6 Steps to Take if You Lose Your Passport

  • By David Lukic
  • Published: Mar 15, 2022
  • Last Updated: Mar 30, 2022

lost passport

Navigating your way through a lost or stolen passport can be pretty frustrating. If you’ve ever misplaced a valuable item like a set of house keys or a cellphone, you’ll know that feeling of panic that sets in when you realize it may be gone forever.

The problem of losing your passport or having your passport stolen is more of an inconvenience and an unnecessary cost than a reason to lose all hope.

stolen passport

Remember that this is a problem for many American travelers. According to the U.S. State Department, 300 thousand American passports are lost or stolen in the U.S. each year.

Staying calm and thinking clearly after losing your passport is imperative for taking appropriate action to rectify the situation.

What to Do When Your Passport Goes Missing

What To Do If You Lose Your Passport

Step 1: Report the Theft or Loss of Passport

As soon as you are 100% sure of your passport's disappearance, report the loss or theft to the nearest police station to protect yourself from identity theft. Law enforcement will issue you a case number for your lost or stolen passport.

You will also be required to sign an affidavit if your passport has been stolen. This affidavit will be a record of the specific situation surrounding your missing passport. Make sure you hold onto this document as it will be necessary for applying for a new or temporary passport.

Passports are not considered to be valid once they have been recorded as lost or stolen. This means even if you find it later, you won't be able to use it for travel, and you will still have to go through the steps of obtaining a new passport.

Step 2: Contact the Nearest U.S Embassy

Find and contact the nearest U.S embassy or consulate and inform them of the situation. You will need to show up in person when applying for a new passport with the appropriate documentation.

Some of the documents you’ll need when applying for a new passport include:

  • A passport photograph. Obtaining these before applying for a new passport will help speed up the process. The pictures need to be 35x45mm in size.
  • Identification such as a driver's license or official state ID.
  • Evidence of U.S citizenship includes a birth certificate or photocopy of a missing passport.
  • Travel itinerary such as airplane tickets, train tickets, and accommodation.
  • DS-11 application for a passport.
  • DS-64 statement regarding a lost or stolen passport. These papers include affidavits that you received at the police station along with the case number.

You will either be given a new passport at that point or issued a document called an ‘emergency passport’ so that you can return to your home country.

When you arrive home, replacing your original passport should be a top priority.

Step 3: Be Ready to Pay

Be prepared to pay up. Having a traveler's budget is imperative. Having savings allows us to enjoy greater security in life and adds up when we encounter an emergency.

Losing your passport comes at a cost. However, being the victim of a crime and having your passport stolen from you means that the passport fee can be waived, and a limited-validity passport can be issued.

Regardless of how long your lost passport has until it expires, you will still have to pay the standard fees for a new passport.

In an emergency where there’s an urgent need to travel, you could pay an additional fee to the national issuing authority to have your documents processed and expedited as soon as possible.

Step 4: Inform Your Family and Friends

Inform family, friends, and your place of work of what is happening. They could potentially help find the proper documentation for organizing a new passport.

If you have no other form of identification with you while abroad, your family and friends might need to provide witness testimony that you are who you say you are.

Your place of work could vouch that you are an employee there and use your contract as proof of employment.

Step 5: Contact Your Travel Insurance Company

Contact your travel insurance company and see how they can help with accommodation or travel plans going forward. A brand-new passport may take up to 3 weeks, so planning is a must. 

Travel insurance generally pays out for unused travel expenses and additional transportation costs. Reimbursement of the fees required to obtain a new passport is usually included in travel insurance. This amount can differ according to your unique situation. 

Step 6: Be Patient

Be patient. Prepare for delays because of the ongoing pandemic. Waiting for your new passport can take anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks.

Be aware that someone who loses their passport more than once must apply, pay for, and be interviewed for a new passport once every year instead of every ten years.

Tips to Keeping Your Passport Safe

  • Be vigilant at all times. Some criminals specifically target tourists' passports for fraudulent purposes.
  • Invest in a sling purse or moon bag to keep all your valuables secure at all times.
  • If you’ve booked a hotel, be sure to make use of the hotel safe. You’ll also be able to store bigger valuable items such as a camera, jewelry, and cash.
  • Before going on that trip, make a few copies of your passport and store them in different pockets of your luggage. Leave one with a family member or close friend back at home. These copies can help in several different situations.
  • Make sure to always keep virtual copies of your important documents that you can quickly access on any electronic device.
  • Don’t carry your passport when performing normal tourist activities. It could fall out of your bag or be pickpocketed. Instead, take a duplicate of it.

If you lose or have your passport stolen, don't panic. Check the State Department website for the closest embassy to you and take it from there.

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