What To Consider When Addressing A Stolen US Passport

by erin on September 24, 2010

Travel can be stressful, even for experienced globetrotters. Of all of the things that can go wrong, though, a stolen pasport may seem like the worst. This idea is prevalent in movies and books as characters run into more and more trouble as they hunt down their documents. However, there are some things you can do to get your documents reissued and get your trip back on track.

Of course, your passport is a valuable commodity. People cough up large sums to access the benefits of holding a passport from Europe or North America. American passports are among the most valuable on the black market. As long as this is the case, people will have an incentive to get their hands on these passports.

If you suspect your US passport may have been stolen, make sure to quickly cover other bases before you take concrete action at the embassy. Of course, you can’t go back to everywhere you have been, but you can retrace your steps and double check your hotel room and other hiding places. If your hotel is involved, make sure to contact management and calmly but seriously explain the situation. There is no need to waste time dealing with the maids or other staff directly.

If you are sure that you and your passport have parted ways permanently, get to the embassy or a consulate as quickly as possible. If you are far away from a city with a consulate or embassy, you will need to call ahead and make an appointment. This will save you the time and stress of standing in line and worrying about your case.

Make sure to take all the supporting documents you can muster. A birth certificate, a social security card or even a driver’s license can be of some help. If you don’t have these on you, get someone to fax you a copy. It is better than nothing. This kind of support can really expedite the process of issuing a new passport. This is less of an issue now with RFID and computerized records.

Passports abroad are usually issued at the American Citizen Services section of the embassy. The actual application times will vary, but generally speaking, you should expect to show up in the morning. The sections usually close by around noon, but in the case of a stolen passport, report it at anytime and the staff will be able to take it from there. Do not forget to specifically say that you suspect that your passport has been stolen.

Your airline may also request proof that you reported your passport stolen if you have to make last-minute changes. The extra time and travel spent getting a new passport may require you to change your departure date. You will find your carrier much more cooperative if you have the proper documentation from the embassy.

Another concern for many people is valid visas left in the old passport. Long-term visas to other countries can be dealt with as needed. However, if the country you are in requires a visa, you need to deal with that one first. This process will vary by country. You can ask the embassy staff for information on getting this done. However, they cannot provide that service themselves.

No matter what happens, remember that you are not the only person who has experienced a stolen United States passport. While it is not happy company to be in at the moment, there is a system that can remedy the situation if you stick with it. If you follow proper procedure, you can change this unexpected pass port nightmare into an unexpectedly interesting time.

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