How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Passport on a Trip
Your bags are packed. You have double- and triple-checked that you have your toothbrush, your camera and your phone charger. Then you panic when you realize your passport is missing. Your flight home is tomorrow, and you can’t board the plane without it. You start thinking about the costs to reschedule the flight. And how do you even deal with a lost or stolen passport in Buenos Aires, anyway?
A missing passport is many travelers’ worst fear, but there are steps you can take to minimize hassle, costs and risk when you lose your passport while on a trip. Here we show you what to do if your passport goes missing and how to prepare for it ahead of time.
How to Report a Lost or Stolen Passport
When you realize your passport is missing, you should report the loss to the U.S. government immediately. This will decrease the risk that someone will use your passport to steal your identity or for other nefarious purposes.
To report your lost or stolen passport, you can fill out an online lost passport form with the U.S. government or call 1-877-487-2778. This will invalidate your passport, making it more difficult for anyone else to use it. You can also visit the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are traveling to report your passport missing.
If you have reason to believe your passport was stolen, while it is not required in order to obtain a new passport, you should also file a police report recording the theft with the local authorities. Get a copy of the police report and save it in your records.
Watch video: How to Avoid Pickpockets on Vacation
How to Get a New Passport
Now you will need to apply for a replacement passport. To get a new passport, start with submitting lost passport form DS-64. Next, you will need to submit form DS-11 to apply for a replacement passport. You may submit both forms at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country you are visiting.
To apply for a replacement of your lost or stolen passport, you will need to bring the following items:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a driver’s license or your birth certificate
- An alternate photo ID, such as your driver’s license
- A recent color photograph for your new passport photo
- Payment to cover the fees for a replacement passport
- Travel itinerary if you need an expedited passport
When you pack for your trip, add these items to your packing list so you already have them in the event your passport goes missing. Keep them separate from your passport so if it is stolen, you still have each of these items, making getting your new passport easier. You can also keep soft copies of your birth certificate or passport in a cloud service like Google Drive. This way you can access it from anywhere with internet access.
When you are abroad, you will likely have your passport replacement expedited, since in the U.S. passport replacement takes at least four weeks. If you are traveling in the next day or two, you can apply for a limited validity passport. This will enable you to fly back to the U.S., and then you will get a full validity passport that is good for 10 years once you are home. Alternatively, you can apply for a full replacement, which may take longer. Note that you cannot get a new passport on weekends or holidays because the U.S. Embassies are closed.
When you replace your passport, you will need to pay the normal lost passport fees. The U.S. State Department offers a lost passport fee calculator so you can come to the Embassy prepared with the correct funds.
Did you know: A good travel insurance plan can offer you support when your passport is lost or stolen by reimbursing replacement fees, providing overage for interruption to your vacation and helping you to avoid identity theft.
Also read: REAL ID and Flying - What You Need to Know
What to Know When Your Passport Goes Missing
When you travel, you can take steps to protect yourself from passport theft. Keep your passport in the hotel safe, and only carry a copy with you. When you are traveling between hotels, keep your passport in a secure bag in an internal pocket with a zipper. Some luggage companies make travel bags that have cable wire in them to prevent thieves from cutting into the bag and have RFID blocking material to prevent electronic pickpocketing.
When you lose your passport, you are now at greater risk for identity theft. Notify your banks and credit cards to watch for unusual activity. You may also want to freeze your credit, which makes it harder for someone to open an account in your name since it prevents banks from pulling your credit report without your approval.
In addition, you should be prepared for some interruption in your travel plans if you are traveling soon. A passport replacement can take a few days even when you apply for an expedited limited validity replacement.
Taking the necessary steps to prepare for a lost or stolen passport can decrease your risks, speed up the replacement process and make your trip more enjoyable.
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How Travel Insurance Can Help
Travel insurance plans from Generali Global Assistance include services that can help you when you lose your passport. First, we offer 24-Hour Emergency Assistance Services that include help to locate or replace lost or stolen items and connecting you with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the area you are visiting.
In addition, our travel insurance plans offer Travel Delay and Trip Interruption coverages. This means you can receive coverage for expenses associated with rescheduling your travel while waiting for your passport replacement and even be reimbursed for fees related to getting a new passport.
Generali Travel Insurance also offers Identity Theft Resolution services so you can have peace of mind in the event your passport goes missing. These identity theft services include:
- Assistance reporting the fraudulent activity to local authorities and forwarding a report to creditors
- Assistance in notifying banks or other agencies if identification such as an ATM card, passport or driver’s license is stolen
- Credit monitoring for one year, once it is proven that the traveler is the victim of identity theft
If you prepare for the hassle of a lost or stolen passport before it happens, you’ll be ready to deal with it if it does, and you’ll have a better chance it won’t disrupt your trip too much.