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What To Do When You Lose Your US Passport While Overseas

©istockphoto/Kritchanut

©istockphoto/Kritchanut

Travelers spend a lot of time and money securing their passports, then even more money coming up with ways to keep them safe while traveling. We buy passport protectors, safes and we look for ways to hide them from potential thieves. Unfortunately, no method is full proof and occasionally your passport could still go missing.

Don’t panic. Here’s what to do if you lose your passport overseas.

Make Sure It’s Actually Lost
Before you freak out and start running for the nearest embassy, make sure you perform a thorough search for your lost passport. You could’ve easily misplaced it in your hotel room or in your pack. Empty the pack, check under the bed and even go down to the front desk to see if someone turned it in.

If you took it with you while exploring—which you shouldn’t do—can you backtrack to the last couple of places you went to see if it’s there?

Once you’ve exhausted all of your resources and searched high low, then you can panic!

Just kidding, replacing your passport is not as difficult as you probably think.

File A Police Report
First and foremost, if you’re sure it was stolen you’ll want to file a police report with the local authorities. Your passport contains sensitive information and informing the police will ensure both you and they have a record of it being stolen in case someone tries to use it. Get a copy in hand before you go.

Also, it’s important to have the police report in case you want to file a claim with your travel insurance provider to cover the cost of replacement.

Contact the Nearest Embassy or Consulate
Call the nearest embassy or consulate to set up an appointment to have your passport replaced. Unfortunately, you can’t simply walk in to most embassies and have them take care of the problem and you must call ahead. Explain your situation and provide them with your travel dates so they can get the problem taken care of within an appropriate time frame.

If your money has been stolen along with your passport, they might be able to help you with financial and living arrangements until you can gain access to more funds. This isn’t guaranteed, so keep your fingers crossed.

Apply for the Passport
The application process for a replacement passport is similar to the process of obtaining the original. You’ll need to take a few things with you when you go to your appointment. The U.S. Department of state lists the following items recommended for your appointment.

Depending on your travel plans, you will either be issued a temporary passport within the next 24 hors that’ll allow you to travel home or you will have to wait it out until a replacement passport arrives, which can take around a week.

Paying the Fees
A replacement passport costs the same as your original and is valid for up to ten years for adults and five for minors. However, there are circumstances that will allow the embassy to waive your fee. For instance, if you’re the victim of a serious crime like theft and cannot reasonably obtain money within a certain amount of time you may not have to pay.

In this case, you’ll only be issued an emergency passport. You’ll be required to replace it once you return home, at which time you’ll pay the normal fee.

So, you see, losing your passport is no reason to panic. Though stressful, it’s certainly a situation you’ll be able to handle if you keep your calm. Whatever you do, don’t try to leave the country you’re in without getting a new passport first.

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