Stolen Passport Replacement Guide
As I pack for a fun international trip, there’s always a twitching worry at the back of my mind…”what if I loose my passport?” Its a worry that we’ve all had at one time or another and I know I should be prepared in advance, but I need someone to go over the basics and make it simple for me. Fortunately now that we’re in the digital age, there are advancements that make it easier than ever to replace a missing passport.
So here, my friends, is our guide for:
What To Do If Your Passport is Lost or Stolen. Easy Steps To Recovery.
#1. Good Habits Payoff – Always store your passport in the same place(s).
Whether you are at home or traveling, you should have specific places where you ALWAYS keep your passport. At home designate one specific drawer, file, or cubby that you ALWAYS keep your passport in. When you pack, you’ll known right where to locate it – no stress.
While traveling have a routine for dealing with your passport. I always keep it with me in a stretch waist-wallet that lays flat under my clothes. If I have to leave it behind, I have one hiding place in my luggage that I always put it. Find a place for yourself and stick with it every time. If you lock it up in a hotel room safe, place an essential item of clothing with it so you CAN’T forget and leave it behind. Never just toss it on the bed or bureau, who knows where it could end up – you could be in for a frantic search.
#2 Take Digital Photos Of Your Important Documents
Before the days of a smartphone in every pocket, it was advisable to make a photocopy of your passport and hide it in your luggage. Now a much more convenient method is to take a digital photo of your passport, license, and front and back of charge/debit cards. Then store the photos away in a locked file on your smartphone (free apps available – like Private Photo Vault). MAKE SURE YOUR PHOTOS DO NOT GO TO THE iCLOUD UNPROTECTED! If your wallet or passport is stolen, you can easily access your information right from your smartphone, and if your phone is stolen, no one will be able to access the file. An alternative method would be to store your photos and/or data file in an online encrypted storage program like DropBox which could be accessed from any computer wherever you are.
#3 First Things First, Has Your Passport Been Stolen Or Is It Missing?
If it is missing, then calm yourself down and take some time for a good thorough search. If possible have someone else search as well with “fresh eyes”. Once a passport is reported as lost or stolen it will be cancelled and can NEVER be reactivated again. So, if you find it a day later….sorry you will still need to get a new one.
If your passport has definitely been stolen, report it immediately to the police and file a report. If you are traveling internationally, contact the nearest Embassy or US Consulate office. Find the location at http://www.USEmbassy.gov. Access the State Department’s website for all the info you will need: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/emergencies/lost-or-stolen-passports-abroad.html. You will have to visit the nearest Embassy or Consulate office and file the necessary paperwork and pay the fee. They will assist you with passport replacement and will take your travel requirements into consideration in determining how quickly one can be obtained. If you do not have the funds for a replacement passport, they will help you contact someone in the USA to wire funds to you. You will also need a passport photo. Your hotel or local tourism office should be able to assist you in finding a place to have one taken. According to the U.S. State Department, here is the info you will need to provide for a replacement passport:
- A Passport Photo (one photo is required; get it in advance to speed the process of replacing your passport)
- Identification (driver’s license, expired passport etc.)
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
- Travel Itinerary (airline/train tickets)
- Police Report, if available
- DS-11 Application for Passport (may be completed at time of application)
- DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport (may be completed at time of application)
If you are home prior to travel, call State Department Passport Services at 877-487-2778 to report your missing passport. They are open 8am-10pm, eastern time, Monday through Friday. They will cancel your passport and you must apply for a replacement. Visit the State Department website to access full information and to electronically submit necessary forms: https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/lost-stolen.html. Processing usually takes several weeks, but may be expedited to 8 days or less depending on your circumstances. If your original passport is found at a later date, you STILL NEED TO LET THE STATE DEPT KNOW so they can remove it from the lost or stolen file.
#4 See Item #1 – Always Store Your Passport In The Same Safe Place
Hopefully you will never have the need to go through this process. A bit of advance planning and some disciplined organization about where you store your passport while at home or on the road will assure that your passport is always at the ready.