Any traveler who goes abroad has been kept up at night over anxieties of a lost passport. After all, your passport is much more than a identification: it is a travel document that says who you are, where you’re from, and can help you in the most dire of situations. So what happens if your passport gets lost or stolen?
The first step is to remain calm. Lost passports are one of the most common situations the State Department deals with every year. With the right steps and completing the right forms, reuniting with your travel documents can be a very simple process.
It is critically important to retrace where you last remember having your passport. If your passport is completely lost, then you will need to file a police report with local authorities, and retain a copy for your records. Depending on where you are in the world, the local police may offer a translator to help file your report.
With a police report completed, everyone who has lost a passport must fill out two forms for the State Department. Travelers must fill out Form DS-11, the standard passport application, along with Form DS-64, a statement regarding the lost or stolen passport. In the statement, travelers will be asked to recount the situation that lead to their passport being lost or stolen.
Once the forms are completed, what happens next depends on where you are in the world. Travelers who lose their passport in the United States can mail their forms to the State Department from their local post office. Once accepted by the State Department, a passport can be replaced within four to six weeks. If you have immediate travel plans or need a passport sooner, then you will have to make an appointment at a regional passport center.
If you are currently abroad, your next step should be to make an appointment with the nearest American Consulate. You will be asked to bring any current identification you have (like a driver’s license), a copy of your police report, as well as proof of your travel itinerary to your appointment.
Once the Consulate processes your replacement travel documents, they are usually valid for ten years unless otherwise noted by your consular officer. In many situations, the Consulate can provide your documents on the same day as your visit.
Losing a passport is never an ideal way to end a business trip abroad. However, there are actions you can take to make sure you can still get home. Instead of panicking, make sure you follow these steps to be reunited with your passport at the end of the day.