What to do if you lose your passport while traveling abroad

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Losing a passport or having it stolen in a foreign country is a hassle, but it doesn't mean you're stuck in that country forever.

We consulted the US Department of State's website to see what American travelers should do if they find themselves without a passport while abroad.

The chance of having a passport lost or stolen while traveling is the reason why travelers should always keep a photocopy or digital picture of their passport so they can prove US citizenship.

Here's what to do if you lose your passport while traveling abroad.

1. Find and contact the nearest US embassy or consulate.

You'll need to report your lost or stolen passport to the consular section specifically. The contact information for US consulates and embassies around the world can be found on the department of state's country specific information page of their website.

Make sure to tell the consular officer you're speaking with if you've been the victim of a crime. It's also important to let the officer know when you're planning on leaving the country - especially if it's soon - so they know whether to get you a limited validity emergency passport or full validity passport.

2. If your passport has been stolen, file a police report.

Although filing a police report isn't necessary, it can help to confirm that your passport was stolen. However, it most likely won't speed up the process of you getting a new passport. So if you're scheduled to travel back to the US soon, you might want to skip filing the report.

3. Take a new passport photo.

Before heading to the embassy or consulate, find a place where you can have your passport photo taken. Arriving at the embassy or consulate with a photo will help speed up the process of getting a replacement passport.

4. Fill out an application for a new passport and a statement regarding your lost or stolen passport.

Along with taking a new passport photo, there are two forms that you'll need to fill out either before going to the consulate or embassy or while you're there. One is a standard application for a US passport and one is a statement regarding a lost or stolen passport , which will ensure your passport is invalidated, preventing anyone else from being able to use it.

5. Go to the nearest US embassy or consulate to obtain your new passport.

You'll need a to bring a few documents with you in order to receive your replacement passport:
  • Your new passport photo
  • Some type of identification such as a driver's license
  • Some type of travel itinerary (airplane or train ticket)
  • Evidence of US citizenship (a birth certificate or photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Your application for a passport and statement regarding your lost or stolen passport if you've filled those forms out

6. Be prepared to pay the fee.

Unless you've been a victim of a disaster or serious crime, you'll be expected to pay the normal passport fee - $140 - for your replacement passport. If you can't afford the fee, you'll have the opportunity to name someone who can pay the fee.

7. Wait.

It takes anywhere from four to six weeks to get a passport renewed within the US. This wait time is significantly cut down if you're renewing a passport abroad due to theft or you losing it. If you have almost immediate travel plans back to the US, you'll be issued an emergency passport that will come in 24 hours and will only get you back to the US - you'll have to get a full-validity passport once you're back home. Otherwise, it can take a few days to get a new passport depending on the country you're in since it'll have to be shipped from the US.

Other things to keep in mind when replacing your passport:

While replacement passports are usually valid for ten years for adults and five years for minors, if you receive a limited-validity, emergency passport (if you're scheduled to leave the country almost immediately), then you'll need to turn in your emergency passport once you're back in the US in order to receive a full-validity passport.

Consulates or embassies can't issue passports on weekends or holidays. The only exception to this are life or death emergencies, in which case travelers can contact an after-hours duty officer to issue a passport.

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