What To Do When You Have Lost An American Passport

by erin on September 20, 2010

The last thing you want to have to worry about while stringing together all the last minute details of your backpacking trip through Europe is a lost passport. Even worse is when you realize that between the pub crawls and museum tours you lost track of your passport and now you are stuck in a foreign country without your most important travel document. Knowing the necessary steps to recovering your passport before embarking on a European adventure can save you a lot of stress and worry.

Do not stress if you lose your passport documents right before it is time for you to leave on a pre-planned vacation. Simply fill out a form that you can find online and hand it in, in person, to expedite the process and get your new passport back quicker than if you were to send it through the mail.

If you are one of the unlucky ones who have their passport stolen while you are abroad, you must immediately report it to the local authorities. If you have misplaced your passport while abroad, go directly to a nearby U.S. Embassy and speak to someone who can help you. Make sure to bring all relevant documents regarding future travel plans so the Embassy knows how soon you will need the replacement travel document.

The Embassy will not be able to give you a permanent passport. After September 11th, 2001, the United States got much stricter on its policy for Embassies outside of the U.S. issuing permanent passports. But do not worry as you can receive a temporary version if you fill out an application and pay the fees. Once in the United States, you will have to go through the application process again to get your permanent passport.

However, if you get your bank cards and driver’s license stolen along with your passport, there is nothing the Embassy can do to replace those. That will prove to be an issue when you have no way of proving that you are who you say you are when you go to apply for a temporary passport. But don’t fret as you won’t be stuck in a foreign country forever. The embassy has ways of dealing with situations such as these but the process is just a lot slower. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, bring photocopies of everything you think could be important in the future, just to be safe.

If you have already left on your trip and cannot find a copy machine anywhere, write down all of your ID information with important numbers and dates on a clean piece of paper. Knowing your passport number will help to expedite the temporary passport application process.

You will have to pay all the normal passport fees for your new temporary passport and if you don’t have access to any money (because perhaps it was stolen), you will have to provide the name of someone who can lend you the money.

If you end up with a lost passport, you won’t be trapped in a foreign country with no way out. However, the more you prepare ahead of time, the easier the process will be. Don’t panic if you lose your pasport documents but make sure you act quickly to recover it.

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