What To Do If You Lose Your U.S. Passport In Another Country

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Losing a passport is not a situation anyone wants to be in, no matter where they are in the world. However, losing a passport while in another country can be more inconvenient than misplacing it at home. Many travelers may panic at that moment on the way to the airport when they are questioned whether or not they have remembered their passports.

Fortunately, it usually rests safely in a pocket or backpack, and panic quickly fades. But what if it’s nowhere to be found? Even worse, what if you’re abroad and trying to get back home? Don’t panic. You will still be able to return home, but it will be a bit more complicated than initially planned.

An American flag flutters in the wind in front of the US Embassy in London, United Kingdom

The first step to take if you lose your passport while abroad

If you lose your passport while abroad and you’re sure you’ve checked everywhere, You need to act fast, Especially if you are traveling home soon. Whether it’s lost or stolen, there’s one step you should take as soon as possible.

Report your passport lost or stolen as soon as possible. If it falls into the wrong hands, You are at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. Make sure to report your passport lost or stolen on the State Department’s portal as soon as you know it’s missing. Remember that once it is reported lost or stolen, You won’t be able to use it for travel! As a result, you can be 100% sure it won’t show up after you report it missing.

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A wallet and passport sitting on the floor as a passenger walks away from them

A victim of theft?

After reporting your passport stolen, it is best practice to file a police report with the local authorities, especially if more than just your passport was stolen. It is helpful to make a claim with travel insurance companies, as many will cover the cost of replacing your passport and your stolen belongings.

Additionally, whether lost or stolen, the State Department recommends filing a police report with the local police in both cases, as it helps confirm the loss or theft. However, if your trip out of the country is imminent, it is best not to spend extra time filing a police report, he suggests.

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A woman tourist is pickpocketed and her passport taken out of her backpack as she walks away.

Can you return to the US without a passport?

In short, no. In some rare cases, travelers may be able to enter the US by land or sea with an enhanced driver’s license. However, in most cases, it is not possible to return to the United States without a valid passport. All US citizens must present a valid passport when traveling to or by air from the US.

Frustrated passengers check-in attendant checks missing documents at airport kiosk

Lost or Stolen Passport: Steps to take as soon as possible

After reporting your passport lost or stolen, and possibly filing a police report, there are several steps you should take as soon as possible to ensure that you will be able to return to the United States on your originally scheduled travel dates.

  1. Collect documents: You will need to contact the US embassy or consulate, but before you do, you should gather supporting documents to make the process as quick as possible. You will need the following:
  • A passport photo
  • ID: For example, a driver’s license
  • Evidence of US Citizenship: Birth certificates, photocopies of your missing passport
  • Itinerary details
  • Police report: If applicable
  • Form DS-11: Application for passport
  • Form DS-64: Statement regarding lost or stolen passport
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United States Embassy London, United Kingdom
  1. Go to the nearest US embassy or consulate and ask to speak with the consular section: If you are the victim of a crime, make sure you notify the consular office for immediate assistance. If you are leaving the country soon, make sure you share your travel details so they can try to help you make your travel date. (Note: Most embassies and consulates cannot issue passports on holidays or weekends)
  2. Get your new passport: Processing times may vary and the type of passport you receive will depend on how soon your travel plans are. If your travel plans are urgent, you will be issued a limited-validity, emergency passport that will allow you to return to the United States, where you will need to obtain a full replacement passport. If you can get a full replacement while abroad, a new passport is valid for 10 years and costs $130 (at the time of this writing).
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Traveler with US passport case, international travel concept

Things to keep in mind

Losing your passport in another country is definitely stressful. However, know that you are not the first person to experience this and that embassies and consulates will provide all the help they can. Accidents happen, and even though it may seem like the end of the world, before you know it you’ll be home safely. However, the best situation is to never be in this situation in the first place. Here are some tips to make sure this never happens to you and keep in mind in certain situations:

  • Lock: Once you arrive at your hotel, lock your passport in your hotel safe.
  • Photocopies: It is always a good idea to travel with photocopies of important documents like your passport, birth certificate and driving license. Electronic copies are also helpful.
  • Have a designated pocket: It’s easy to misplace things in the chaos of going through the airport. Make sure to choose a designated place for your passport, so you always know whether you have it with you or not.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

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