What To Do If You Lose Your U.S. Passport In Another Country

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Losing a passport is not a situation anyone wants to be in, no matter where in the world they are. However, if a passport goes missing while in another country, it will be much more difficult than replacing it at home. Many travelers can relate to that moment of panic on the way to the airport when they question whether or not they remembered their passports.

Fortunately, it usually fits securely in a pocket or backpack, and the panic fades quickly. But what if it is not to be found? Even worse, what if you are in a foreign country and want to return home? Keep an eye on yourself. You will still be able to return home, but it will be a bit more complicated than originally planned.

An American flag fluttering in the wind in front of the US embassy in London, United Kingdom

The First Step To Take If Your Passport Is Lost Abroad

If your passport goes missing while you’re abroad, and you’re sure you’ve checked everywhere, you must act quickly, especially if you are traveling home soon. Whether it’s lost or stolen or not, there’s one step you need to take as quickly as possible.

Report your passport as lost or stolen as soon as possible. If it falls into the wrong hands, you are at risk of falling victim to identity theft. Make sure to report it as lost or stolen on the State Department Portal as soon as you know for sure that your passport is missing. Keep in mind that when it is reported lost or stolen, you won’t be able to use it for travel! As a result, make sure you are 100% sure that it is not going to show up after you report it missing.

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Wallet and passport sitting on the ground as travelers walk away

Victim of Theft?

After you have reported your passport stolen, it may be a good practice to file a police report with the local authorities, especially if more than one passport has been stolen. This is helpful in filing a claim with travel insurance companies, as many will cover the cost of replacing your passport and your stolen items.

In addition, the State Department recommends filing a police report with local police in either case, whether lost or stolen, as it may help confirm the loss or theft. However, they also point out that if you are traveling out of the country very soon, it is best not to spend the extra time filing a police report.

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A man picking a female tourist's pocket as she walked out and grabbed her passport from her backpack

Can You Travel Back To The US Without A Passport?

In short, no. In some rare cases, travelers may be able to enter the US by land or sea with an Enhanced Driver’s License. However, in most cases, it will not be possible to travel back to the United States without a valid passport. All US citizens must show a valid passport when traveling to or from the US by air.

Frustrated Passenger At Airport Kiosk As Attendant Checks Missing Documents

Lost or Stolen Passport: Steps to Take ASAP

After you have reported your passport lost or stolen and possibly filed a police report, there are several steps you must take as quickly as possible to ensure that you are able to travel back to the United States during your originally scheduled travel dates.

  1. Collect Documents: You will need to contact a US Embassy or consulate, but before doing so, you should collect supporting documents to make the process go as quickly as possible. You will need the following:
  • Passport Photo
  • ID: Like a driver’s license
  • Evidence of US Citizenship: Birth certificates, photocopies of your missing passport
  • Itinerary
  • Police Report: If applicable
  • Form DS-11: Application for a Passport
  • Form DS-64: Statement of Lost or Stolen Passport
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Embassy of the United States in London, United Kingdom
  1. Go to the nearest US Embassy or Consulate and ask to speak to the Consular Section: If you are a victim of crime, make sure you notify the consular office for quick assistance. If you are leaving the country soon, make sure you share your travel details so they can try to help you make your travel date. (Note: Most Embassies and Consulates cannot issue passports on Holidays or weekends)
  2. Get your New Passport: Processing times can vary, and the type of passport you receive depends on how soon your travel plans are. If your travel plans are urgent, you will likely be issued an emergency passport of limited validity that will allow you to travel back to the United States, where you will need to obtain a full replacement passport. If you are able to get a new one while abroad, the new passport will be valid for 10 years and will cost $130 (at the time of this writing).
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Travelers Holding a US Passport Case, International Travel Concept

Things to Keep in Mind

Losing your passport in another country is sure to stress you out. Be aware, however, that you are not the first person to have experienced this, and the Embassies and Consulates will provide them with all assistance. Accidents happen, and even though it seems like the end of the world, you’ll be safe and sound at home before you know it. However, it is best not to be in this situation in the first place. Here are some tips to make sure this never happens to you and some to keep in mind just in case:

  • Green is: When you arrive at your hotel, lock your passport in your hotel safe.
  • Photocopies: It is always a good idea to travel with photocopies of important documents such as your passport, birth certificate and driving licence. Electronic copies are also helpful.
  • Have a Designated Pocket: It’s easy to lose things in the chaos of going through the airport. Make sure you choose a designated place for your passport, so you always know if it’s with you or not.

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