What to Do If You Lose Your Passport Abroad

If you lose your passport abroad, what should you do?

It is a nightmare to lose your passport, but it is not difficult to get a new one.

Roman Zelichenko, the co-founder and CEO of LaborLess, couldn’t find his passport as he walked out the door for a flight from Israel to Austria. Zelichenko’s initial reaction was denial. I kept thinking I would find it in just a minute,” he says. “Almost not even reacting when it wasn’t there, I kept going back to the last place I thought I saw it.”

Eventually, reality set in. Besides missing his flight, he will likely miss his conference, and he will lose thousands of dollars. A sudden sense of helplessness overtook me. No choice but to go to the nearest U.S. embassy for a new passport.”

Traveling abroad and losing your passport is a true nightmare. If you lose your passport while abroad, don’t panic. Despite the hassle and cost, it’s not the end of the world. Travelers often encounter this problem.

A lost passport may seem logical to seek assistance from authorities as soon as possible. Nevertheless, once a passport has been reported missing, there is no going back. As the passport will be invalidated over the phone, it is crucial to verify with absolute certainty that the document is lost before starting the process.

Zelichenko’s family helped him search for a passport. In addition, everyone in the house was frantically helping him look, he says. It wasn’t until I realized everyone had stopped looking that reality dawned on me.”

If you lose your passport while traveling or living abroad, follow these steps.

You can contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate by calling

Losing a passport when traveling abroad can be a traumatic experience. A mishap of this nature, however, calls for immediate action and notification of the appropriate authorities. To report the incident, you should contact a U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as possible. You can find contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates on the Department of State’s country-specific information page.

“The first thing I looked up was what to do if I lost my passport abroad,” Zelichenko says. “I found that I could either apply for a new, regular passport at a U.S. embassy in the country I was in, or apply for an emergency passport if I had to travel immediately.”

To view emergency passport appointment time slots for the next day, Zelichenko was instructed to log into a specific site during a set period. Check online or call the embassy to speak with a consular officer for more information.

When speaking with a consular officer, it is important to disclose if your passport has been stolen. You should also inform the officer of your departure date, especially if it is imminent, so that he or she can determine whether you need an emergency passport with a limited validity or a passport with a full validity. Having this information is crucial for ensuring that you are properly documented and that you can travel safely and easily.

Consulates and embassies cannot issue passports during weekends or holidays, except in emergency situations involving a threat to life or limb.

You should file a police report if your passport is stolen

To receive appropriate assistance, it is imperative to inform a consular officer as soon as possible after being a victim of a crime.

While a police report is not mandatory, it can be helpful in validating the circumstances of a lost or stolen passport. If you have any such loss or theft incidents, it is highly recommended that you report them to your local police. If obtaining a police report would result in missed flights or unreasonable travel delays, you can skip this step. Your safety and expedited travel are of utmost importance.

Passport applications must include a statement that details the circumstances surrounding a lost or stolen passport. A DS-64 form is appropriate for this purpose, which is provided by the Department of State.

Passport Replacement: What You’ll Need

Once you discover your passport has been lost, the procedure for obtaining a replacement passport varies based on your current location and travel plans.

“The process was surprisingly straightforward,” Zelichenko says. Last week, the U.S. Department of State launched a new passport appointment booking system, so I was able to use an online form to book an appointment at the DOS website. Upon confirmation of the appointment, I received an email containing instructions on what to do and bring. I printed out the required government forms and filled them out.”

There are certain documents that must be brought along with you if you want to receive a replacement. Here are the things you’ll need:

• A photo of your passport
• A driver’s license is an acceptable form of identification
• Obtain proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate or a photocopy of your passport if you have lost it
• Itinerary if you’re traveling soon
• If available, a police report

Two forms must be completed prior to or during your visit to the consulate. First, you will need to fill out a standard passport application. Second, you will be required to fill out a form that will invalidate your lost or stolen passport, preventing unauthorized use.

You will need the following two forms:
• DS-11 Application for Passport
• DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport

It is crucial to keep in mind that your passport will become invalid after you have completed and submitted the requisite forms. Even if you later locate your lost passport, it cannot be used, so you must apply for a new one.

Passport Replacement Fees

Your replacement passport will require you to pay the regular fee. It is possible, however, that you will not be asked to pay a fee in certain extraordinary circumstances. Those circumstances include if the passport applicant has committed a severe crime or been affected by a disaster (terrorism, natural disaster, etc.).

The passport fee may be waived for applicants who are unable to obtain funds to pay before traveling, and a limited-validity passport will be issued instead. Once the individual returns to the United States, a replacement passport with full validity can be obtained for the standard fee.

Global Entry was linked to your former passport, so you don’t have to reapply for the program or pay the associated fees. Upon receiving your new passport, simply update Global Entry with the new passport number. The Mobile Passport Control app, which is widely used and less expensive, must also be updated with the new passport information.

While you wait, review your travel plans
Traveling internationally without a passport is unfortunately impossible. It usually takes four to six weeks to renew a passport within the United States. The wait time may be significantly shorter if you apply for an emergency passport if you need to renew your passport overseas for an urgent flight.

“Normally, the U.S. Embassy in Israel takes about two months to issue regular passports to U.S. citizens in Israel, but for those who need them ASAP, there is an emergency passport service.”
A passport will usually be ready within 24 hours if you have imminent travel plans back to the U.S. A new full-validity passport can take several days, depending on where you are in the world.

The entire process was quick for Zelichenko. On my way out, I thanked the U.S. embassy workers for keeping the embassy safe and running smoothly.”

Two days after his appointment with the embassy, Zelichenko received his emergency passport in a fun shade of purple. “I’m glad I went through this just to have a purple U.S. passport,” he said.

Although adult replacement passports usually have a 10 year validity period and minors’ passports are valid for five years, if you obtain a limited-validity emergency passport because you have immediate travel plans, you are strongly encouraged to exchange it for a full-validity passport upon your return.

In certain countries, like France, emergency passports may not be accepted because they lack an electronic data chip, which is typically found in a standard passport. As a result, you should plan your travel accordingly and verify the entry requirements of each country you intend to visit.

“The feeling I had when I stepped out of the embassy with my passport was freedom,” Zelichenko says. There is freedom of choice to leave. There was a strange, sometimes scary feeling of being stripped of that in a sense.”

While Zelichenko’s lost passport saga ended happily, what can you do to prepare for this worst-case scenario?

The Worst-Case Scenario: How to Prepare

When you travel, bring a few photocopies of your passport and a digital backup saved on your phone. Store them in different places, such as your bag, your hotel, and on your person. Having several photo IDs can speed up the process, but if you don’t have one, don’t worry. Any official can search for you in their system.

Signing up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) can also be very helpful if you travel frequently or live abroad, especially if you need a passport last-minute. The Department of State offers emergency assistance through this program. By registering with STEP, you provide details about your trip (travel dates, destinations, and points of contact), so embassies and consulates where you’ll be traveling can better assist you.

Employees who are being transferred abroad may benefit from this information if you work in corporate human resources. You never know when such information might come in handy. You should contact your employer if you are working overseas and have lost your passport, as they may have connections with service providers who can assist you on the ground.

Losing a passport can be a hassle, but fortunately, it’s not the end of the world!

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