It’s the nightmare of every international traveler that’s ever gone abroad. One moment you have your Passport in hand, with identification and visas onboard. You get bumped into, turn around, or take your eyes off your passport for just one moment…and all of a sudden, your Passport is gone. Maybe it got lost on the train. Or maybe it got pickpocketed while you were in the pedestrian zone. In any event, your Passport is gone – and all of a sudden, the world got more dangerous.
No matter what happens, do not panic if your Passport is lost or stolen. Lost and stolen Passports are one of the most common situations that the State Department faces on a daily basis. And in most parts of the world, the State Department can help you out if your Passport turns up missing. Here is what you can do if you lose your Passport.
What to do if your Passport is lost or stolen in the United States
Replacing a Passport within the Untied States is a much simpler problem, and may be able to be rectified with a simple trip to your local Post Office. All lost or stolen Passport notices must be sent directly to the State Department for processing using two forms: the standard Passport application (Form DS-11), and a statement regarding the lost or stolen passport (Form DS-64).
In order to replace your stolen passport, both forms musts be filled out in their entirety. Form DS-64 will ask you very specific questions about the means by which your Passport was lost or stolen. Be prepared to write answers about how you believe your documents were lost or stolen, where exactly the loss occurred, when you discovered that your documents were lost, and if this has happened to you previously.
Once signed and completed, this form must accompany your Passport application. Otherwise, your passport application may be denied.
If have plenty of time between your travels, then you can submit your completed package at any Passport Application Acceptance Facility. All United States Post Offices are designated as Passport Application Acceptance Facilities, and can help you process your lost or stolen Passport statement and application. If you are traveling within two weeks and need your Passport replaced sooner, you’ll need to make an appointment at a regional Passport Center or Passport Agency. By appearing in person, you’ll be able to have your Passport re-issued in eight days, but additional expediting fees will apply.
What to do if your Passport is lost or stolen abroad
If your Passport is lost or stolen while you’re in the middle of your international travels, it is very important to have your Passport replaced as quickly as possible. A Passport not only identifies you as an American citizen, but is required for exiting most countries and re-entering into the United States.
Replacing your Passport begins by contacting the United States Embassy in the country you’re located in, and speaking with the Consular Section to start the process. The Consular Section can schedule you for an appointment. During your appointment, you’ll be asked to bring with you a number of items, including current identification (such as a driver’s license) and your travel itinerary. If you are able to provide a photocopy of your lost Passport and a Police Report about your situation, that will help process your application even faster.
Replaced Passports are usually good for ten years after they are issued, unless in special circumstances identified by your consular officer. While the Consular Section can help you with your physical Passport, you may be on your own to replace any pertinent Visas in your Passport. The consular officer can help you identify what you need to replace the Visas you need to either stay in country or exit the country at the end of your stay.
Reduce the risk with a duplicate Passport
Another way to reduce your risk of delay due to traveling is holding a duplicate Passport. Unbeknownst to many travelers, you can actually hold two valid Passports at the same time! The savvy traveler just knows to ask.
In order to hold a second Passport, travelers need to prove their first Passport is still valid. This can be done by presenting the original passport at the Passport Application Acceptance Facility, or including a photocopy in an application packet. To request a second Passport book, fill out the renewal application DS-82 as if you were renewing your current application. In the application packet, be sure to include a signed letter as to why you are requesting a second passport. Finally, send in the application with the $110 processing fees.
By preparing a plan in case of a lost or stolen Passport, you can make sure that your travel continues to move as smooth as possible. Through calm, rational thought and diligent planning, you’ll be able to travel like a pro wherever you go.