Smart Traveler's keep passports safe
Recently one of my clients had their passports stolen while on vacation. This was the first time I had ever encountered this problem. Fortunately, my client had already taken action before I was notified of the problem. They did all the right things and were able to make their flight later that afternoon.
What to Do If Your Passport is Lost or Stolen While Traveling
1. Don't Panic - While this isn't the best news in the world, it is also not the worst and you can get this taken care of. It will be a bit of a hassle but you will be able to get back to the USA.
2. File a Police Report Immediately. A police report will validate your information should someone try to use your passport illegally. Make sure before you leave the police station that you have a copy of the report for your records. It is also is especially important if you plan on claiming the cost of replacement on your travel insurance.
3. Locate Nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Once you’ve located the US Embassy in the country you’re visiting (for a complete list, click here), you will need to schedule an emergency appointment. Generally, appointments are available Monday-Friday mornings (excluding Federal Holidays) and there are no walk-ins allowed.
Staff at the Embassy or Consulate can give you:
- A replacement passport that will let you finish your trip or;
- An emergency travel document that will get you home
4. Apply for a New Passport. This must only be done in person and you will need to bring the following documentation with you to your appointment:
- Passport Application form DS-11 (filled out in black ink)
- DS-64 form (filled out in black ink)
- Proof of U.S. citizenship (copy of passport) and a form of primary identification (drivers license or military ID). If you cannot present primary evidence of U.S. citizenship, you must submit secondary evidence of U.S. citizenship. ***If you have an extra copy of your passport with you, it could help streamline/expedite the process of proving your identity to a representative.
- Police report
- Passport photo—if you do not already have an extra photo handy, there are often stores and businesses located near the U.S. Consulate or Embassy where you can get passport photos. Either way, make sure your passport photo meets the State Department’s specific passport photo requirements.
- A copy of your travel itinerary which includes your plans for leaving the country
- Payment—while the specific fees for services are the same as if you were in the U.S, embassies and consulates overseas can only accept your payment in cash in U.S. or local currency on site (or in some cases via credit card). And unlike acceptance facilities located in the U.S., they don’t accept personal checks.
You should receive your new temporary US passport within 24 hours. This passport is only good for one year and will need to immediately be renewed and replaced with a traditional 10-year passport once you have returned back to the United States.
If you are notified by a relative or friend traveling abroad that his/her U.S. passport has been lost/stolen, you may wish to contact the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C, at 1-888-407-4747. That office will be able to help you put your friend or loved one in touch with the closest U.S. embassy or consulate. Your relative/friend must apply in person for a new passport at the U.S. embassy or consulate.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IN ADVANCE TO PREVENT LOSS?
Always keep your passport in a safe (at home OR on vacation) when not in use. Never leave your passport unattended anywhere for any length of time. If the passport is not in the safe, you should be carrying it on your person it in a secure manner. Be sure to keep your passport clean and do not allow it to get damp or wet as that may render it unusable. I personally had to visit the Embassy in the Bahamas one time because my passport got wet. They issued me an emergency document which allowed me to get home but I had to replace my passport immediately.
Keep copies of your documents
Keep electronic and paper copies of your passport, and other necessary documents, safe but accessible to you while away (e.g. with a family member at home). A useful idea is to email yourself a scan or picture of your passport and important documents, so that you can access them wherever you are. You can also take a photo of the page where your picture and info is with a smart phone and keep it in your phone. This is helpful if you need to retrieve it and you don't have internet service.
KEEP YOUR PASSPORT SAFE AT ALL TIMES!