Losing your passport is one of the most stressful and scary things that can happen when you’re having an epic overseas adventure. Since we like to be ultra-prepared while visiting the world’s trendiest neighborhoods, and we’ve read a bunch of conflicting information about what we should do if we ever find ourselves in this awful situation, we consulted with a handful of travel pros to get some much-needed clarification. Scroll on for their four dos and don’ts for handling this worst-case scenario like a champ.
Do: Prep Before You Go
Here are a few steps everyone should take *before* embarking on an overseas adventure. They’ll make it much easier to obtain a new temporary passport should you lose your old one.
1. Create and keep a digital version of your passport. “Before you leave for your trip, scan a page of your passport for safe, digital keeping,” advises Collette Stohler from Roamaroo.com. Rather than storing your digital version on your phone or desktop, keep it in the cloud so you’ll always be able to access it.
2. Give a copy to a family member or friend. Whether it’s paper or digital, giving a trusted family member or friend a copy of your passport can come in handy if you’re unable to access your own digital copy. “It’s much easier to get a replacement if you have good copies,” says Kristopher Kirk of Fodor’s Travel.
3. Bring an alternate form of photo ID. This is super important, because obtaining a duplicate/temporary passport will require a second form of identification that shows you’re really who you say you are. Make sure you travel with it and store it separately from your passport.
Do: Find the Nearest Embassy
Once you realize you don’t have your passport, the best thing you can do is locate your nearest embassy. Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do when using the US Department of State’s website. Pull up the Emergencies Abroad page on your phone or computer and search for the country you’re visiting.
If you still need help, try contacting your local officials at home. Representatives can help move things a little more quickly by contacting the government for you. Remember: You’re not the first person to lose your passport, and consulates are totally used to helping people in your exact situation.
As soon as you’ve ironed out where the embassy is, prep for your visit. You’ll definitely need to show some form of a photo ID, as well as give your social security number (though having your actual social security card isn’t necessary). You should expect to take a new photo and confirm who you are under oath to get a duplicate/temporary passport that’ll take you back home. You should also be prepared to pay a hefty fee for the expedited services and your new temporary passport.
Don’t: File a Police Report Immediately
Though it might seem like the best thing to do at the time, filing a police report when you lose your passport isn’t always necessary or helpful — in some cases, it can actually work against you. Andre Arriaza, co-founder of Barcelona Eat Local, tells us, “Only if safe, report your lost or stolen passport to the local police. Be aware that in certain countries local corruption might play against you, so better get to know the pros and cons of the place you are visiting in advance.” Yikes!
FYI: A police report won’t actually speed things up. If your passport was stolen, you’ll be asked to fill out a statement when you visit the embassy anyway.
Do: Keep Tabs of Your Stuff Once You’re Home
Once you make it home safely, be sure to keep an eye on all your accounts. The team at LifeLock tells us, “Losing a passport should be treated like losing other vital identity paperwork, as one can be used as valid forms of ID for the usual range of identity theft/identity fraud crimes, including opening new lines of credit, accessing existing lines, and even generating new forms of ID.” Be sure you stay on top of your bank and credit card statements, along with any other personal accounts that might be tied to your name and social security number.
One last thing: You should definitely complete a statement regarding your lost or stolen US passport, sign it, and mail it to the address on the form.
Have you lost your passport while traveling? Tweet us and tell us how you dealt with it @BritandCo!
(Photos via Getty)