Financial Travel Tip #105: What to do When Your Passport is Lost or Stolen

by Nora on January 18, 2014

 

My recent passport fiasco was an education in what happens when you are abroad without a passport – and need a new one lickedy-split for upcoming travel.

Here is a step-by-step process of what to do when your passport is lost or stolen:

 

Call your consulate/embassy

Let them know as soon as possible what has happened. They will guide you through the process and send you any necessary forms.

Your country’s embassy/consulate website should also be of assistance, providing not only contact numbers, but also some guidance as to what to do when your passport is lost or stolen, often providing forms for downloading and printing.

 

Get a Police Report

This is a debatable requirement depending on the circumstances, however when I spoke to my consulate representative, she insisted that even if my passport was lost, a police report would expedite the process as legal documentation of what happened.

 

Passport Photos

If you don’t already have a few on hand, then off to the photo store you go to get some passport photos – which you’ll need with your application for a new passport.

 

Relevant Applications and Forms

You’ll need a new application form, and probably some additional forms like declarations of lost/stolen passports. Read and fulfil the requirements carefully to avoid delays; a reader recently cited having his application refused seven times when his passport was lost/stolen abroad – each time because of a minor error in the application.

 

Identification

With your application, you’ll likely need to submit a piece of photo ID like a driver’s license, as well as a citizenship document. You’ll need to provide originals; if you must relinquish them during the passport application process, make sure you’ve got copies on hand in the meantime.

 

If You’re Traveling

If you have travel plans, you can expedite the passport application process by providing proof of travel, such as a plane ticket. If they can’t expedite the full application in time, You’ll receive a temporary passport (which allows you to continue your trip until you exchange it for your replacement passport – the length of validity and specifics vary).

If that still won’t cut it, or if you simply need to return to your home country, you might be able to get an Emergency Travel Document, issued by the country you are visiting, to allow you to return home without a passport. Some airlines accept these documents and others don’t; be sure to check with the airline before you go down this road. I did this when I was in Grenada (and enroute to Panama); despite the 4,000km detour, it was quicker than applying for a new passport since there’s no Canadian embassy/consulate in Grenada and I would have had to mail documents to Barbados (with a few extra requirements that made it far from a smooth process).

 

Did I miss anything? Are other countries different? Have you had your passport lost or stolen? What was required to replace it?

 

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline January 20, 2014 at 3:48 am

This is all vital information … I would freak the f*** out if I ever lost mine. Thanks!

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2 theprofessionalhobo January 20, 2014 at 9:19 am

Ha ha – no problem, Caroline! Preparation is key! 🙂

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3 Deia @ Nomad Wallet January 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm

Great tips, Nora! It’s really easy to get all panicky if anything like this happens, so it’s useful to know these things beforehand.

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4 theprofessionalhobo January 21, 2014 at 10:59 am

Deia – TALK about panic! Eek! I was a wreck. Not my finest moments, to be sure!

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5 Hogga January 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

i would probably start by crying.

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6 theprofessionalhobo January 22, 2014 at 9:03 am

Yep….did that…. 😉

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7 Anne-Marie @ This Mama Cooks! January 21, 2014 at 3:07 pm

It also helps to have copies of all your important travel docs (passport, ID, tickets, itineraries, etc.) stored “in the cloud” using a service like DropBox, Microsoft’s SkyDrive, or Apple’s iCloud. That way you can login from any computer and print out copies of all your documents to give to the relevant authorities.

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8 theprofessionalhobo January 22, 2014 at 9:06 am

Anne-Marie – I’m becoming increasingly more lax about cloud-based storage, but I do still kind of shiver at the thought of all my legal documents and ID being in the cloud; it doesn’t feel secure to me.
Instead, I have encrypted copies on my iPhone, external hard drive, and my “trusty USB stick”. That’s in addition to paper copies that I carry around with me in case I don’t have a chance to print anything out….which is common.

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9 Adrienne January 22, 2014 at 8:04 am

Great tips! I have been travelling for several years and I still jumped to read it. A few things to add:

1. For Americans, passport photos must be a different size than most (not sure about Canadian) and have loads of other rules governing them. See here: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/passports/photos/photos.html

After needing some and having a hell of a time trying to find them in China, I stockpiled a few and added them to my other stash of regular ID photos — just in case.

2. Even if it’s not lost, you might need to renew your passport when you least expect it — a few times I was applying for a longer visa and needed a passport that was valid for the duration of the visa. And, even if that’s not a requirement, I have found that it’s often much easier to just get a new passport rather than get a visa, have the passport expire, and then sort that mess out.

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10 theprofessionalhobo January 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

Great suggestions, Adrienne!
Passport photo requirements indeed vary by country; I carry extra ID photos that could pass as visa/whatever photos in many countries, but when it comes to the actual passport application, I’ve been once bitten and now twice shy when they wouldn’t accept my homemade version once – I just go to a passport photo shop. (It also improves my chances of looking half-decent for the passport…..not an easy task at the best of times with passport pics)!

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