Traveling Can be Dangerous: What to Do About a Stolen Passport
Traveling abroad is exciting; you get to experience a new culture, see great wonders of the world, and make memories that will last a lifetime. But there’s also a great deal of planning that goes into it: plane tickets, passport applications, travel itineraries, hotel reservations, and more.
So what happens when a piece of your care plan goes wrong?
Running into trouble while you’re abroad is always stressful, and if your passport gets stolen, you may find yourself panicking. However, while a stolen passport is a serious matter, it’s not unfixable. Read on to learn what to do if your passport gets stolen while you’re traveling.
Report to the Local Police
The first step when you discover your passport is gone is to report to the local police. You’ll want to tell them that your passport is missing and that you think it’s stolen. They’ll be able to start an investigation, but more importantly, they’ll be able to file a report.
The police report will do a couple of things. First of all, it will create a record that will help track down the thief if they try to use your passport inappropriately. Second, and more important to you, that police report will help you get a new passport as quickly as possible.
Get a Photo
When you’re in a foreign country with no passport and a deadline to get out of the country on time, we know the first thing on your list is probably having a photo shoot done. Well, in fact, it should be. Before you even head for your embassy, you’ll want to go get a new passport picture taken.
As a note, some embassies will take a photo for you, but not all of them do. Having a passport photo already in hand will help speed up the process. Remember, there are guidelines to what constitutes an acceptable passport photo.
Okay, so you’ve been to the police station and you’ve had your photo made. Now it’s time to head for the embassy, right? Well, not quite; there are a few more things you’ll want to round up before you go to the embassy.
In addition to your photo, you’ll need some sort of identification, such as a driver’s license or expired passport. (If you’re planning an overseas trip, keep this in mind; you may want to bring another form of photo ID and store it in a different place than your passport.) You’ll also need evidence of U.S. citizenship (a photocopy of your passport will do), a travel itinerary, and the police report.
Go to Your Embassy
Now at last, you’re ready to go to your country’s embassy wherever you are. They are the ones who will be able to help you get a new temporary passport, and they can also help monitor whether someone else uses your stolen passport. You’ll need the police report and the passport photo you took for this process.
At the embassy, they’ll file a report saying your passport is missing and have you fill out another form applying for a new passport. You’ll want to let them know when you’re leaving the country so they can get you a replacement in time. If it’s a weekend, keep in mind that most embassies don’t work on the weekend, so you’ll need to wait until Monday.
Phone a Friend
If you’re not sure how to find your embassy or you feel you need some outside help, it might be a good idea to phone someone back home. The U.S. Department of State has an Office of Overseas Citizens dedicated to helping people abroad who run into situations like this.
They can sometimes help clarify or expedite the process.
Ask your friend to call the Office of Overseas Citizens and let them know where you are and that your passport has been stolen. The office will be able to put you in touch with the nearest consulate or embassy. You will still need to go to the embassy in person to apply for a new passport.
Know the Cost
Another factor you’ll want to plan for is passport fees. You’ll need to pay all the same fees to get your new passport as you did to get your old one. In fact, there can be some additional fees associated with the rushed process.
If you’re an adult, your new passport will cost you $110 before extra fees. The cost to get an expedited passport (which you’ll almost certainly need unless you’re on a study abroad) is an additional $60. Before you leave the country, you need to make sure you have a valid credit card with at least that much money available on it.
Keep Your Documentation Safe
While it’s too late in this case, the old saying “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” still applies here. Your old passport may be gone, but you can keep it from happening in the future. Make sure you take steps to protect your documents, passport and otherwise, in the future.
Pickpocketing is a common problem, so make sure you don’t store your passport in a backpack, bag, or jacket. Instead, get a pouch you can wear inside your shirt or at your waist (not a fanny pack) to keep your documentation in. Have multiple forms of ID, as well as a photocopy of your passport, and store them all in different places, just in case.
Get the Best Help with Your Stolen Passport
Dealing with a stolen passport while you’re abroad is a special kind of stressful. But if you’re careful in your preparation and smart about handling the situation, things will turn out alright. You’ll be back on to the next leg of your trip in no time, and this will be a funny story you can tell at home someday.
If you’re trying to cope with getting a new passport, reach out to us at U.S. Passport Help Guide. We help with expedited passports with 24-hour processing, personalized service, online chat support, and easy checklists. Learn more about what to do about a lost passport and how to replace it.