What to Do if Your Passport is Stolen or Lost: A Handy Guide

What to Do if Your Passport is Stolen or Lost
Everyone has their own set of nightmares that they never, ever want to face in real life. Losing a passport is sure to be on this list in case of several people, if not everyone. Well, here's what you need to do if it unfortunately, does happen with you.
Losing a passport can cause the calmest of people to hyperventilate, especially if it happens while you're abroad. I'd love to say don't worry, but I won't, because, losing a passport is not too different from losing your identity; more so, when you aren't in your home country. Having said that, a calm demeanor comes in handy, so the sooner you recover from that panic attack, the better your chances get at recovering it.
Every country has varying rules regarding replacing a misplaced or stolen passport, but irrespective of your nationality, the first thing you must do is to report your loss to the concerned authorities. Get in touch with your country's embassy or consulate immediately if you've lost your passport abroad. Along with that, you should file a police statement, informing them about your loss. It is important that you let the local police know, as they are the ones who will offer you immediate assistance, and will also help you contact your embassy if you need to.

If it's happened in your country, you've got slightly lesser worries, but you must report it to your local passport agency immediately. Any delay in reporting the loss could result in your passport being misused, commonly known as identity theft. Once the loss is reported, you can begin the replacement procedures.
passport stolen by thief
Loss of Passport: Guidelines for U.S. Citizens
» The loss of a passport should be reported to the U.S. Department of State. You can visit the Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility nearest to you.

» Alternatively, you can reach them on their toll-free number: 1-877-487-2778. You'll be able to reach their operators on weekdays (excluding Federal holidays) from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Eastern time.

» You need to fill up Form DS-64, also called the Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport and submit it to the Passport Agency in your town in person, or mail it to the address mentioned on the form.

» The online version of Form DS-64 can be printed. You can also obtain this form from the Passport Agency in your town. Do make sure you read the instructions before you fill it up.

» If you wish to obtain a replacement, you must fill up Form DS-11 and submit it along with Form DS-64 to the Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. You would need to pay a fee to avail this facility.

» In case you simply want to report a lost passport, you must only submit Form DS-64.
Common Queries
Q- What happens once I report the loss of my passport to the U.S. Department of State?
A- As soon as you report your passport as lost or stolen, it is rendered invalid with immediate effect. It can no longer be used for travel or as a proof of identity or for any other purpose, even if you manage to recover it later.
Q- I reported a lost passport, but I found it. What do I do with it?
A- Well, you certainly won't be able to use it as it already is an invalid document. You must submit it to the address mentioned on Form DS-64. This passport will then be destroyed. You can request them to send it back to you, if you wish. They will do so after canceling the passport.
Q- What do I do if I urgently need my passport to be replaced?
A- You can pay an additional fee and expedite the passport procurement procedure. You will need to make an appointment with the Regional Passport Agency, but only under the following circumstances:
- If you need your U.S. passport to travel abroad within 2 weeks;
- If you need your U.S. passport to apply for a visa within 4 weeks.
Loss of Passport Overseas: Survival Tips
» Firstly, r-e-l-a-x. Although it is a frightful situation to be in, it is certainly not the end of the world. As I mentioned before, you must contact the local police who will register your statement. They will also help you get in touch with your embassy, if you aren't able to do so yourself.
» You need not be a seasoned traveler to know that you absolutely must keep a copy of the photo page of your passport in each of your other bags, with your travel mate if you have one, and also keep one with a friend or family member back home. Be extra cautious and have a scanned copy saved on your email as well.
» Losing your passport can be a nightmare straight out of hell, but if you're unfortunate enough to lose all your money along with it, too, it can result in a mini heart attack. Again, it makes sense to have some spare cash stashed in other bags, along with the copy of the passport that I just mentioned.
» And then there will be times when you'll find yourself robbed of your passport and your money and your phone, but there is still a way out. If for some reason you do get stranded, find a place where you can access free Internet so you can Skype someone back home who can help. Some public libraries offer free Internet and quite a few coffee shops or fast food joints around the world have Wi-Fi, so try to catch hold of someone with a laptop in there.
» As a traveler, never underestimate the importance of saving copies of all your travel documents, including ticket information. While you're on the move, regularly stay in touch with someone back home. This way, if you land in trouble, you'll have someone watching out for you.
In a perfect world, there would be no boundaries, no immigration checks and happily, no passports. But until we actually reach that stage, we need to guard all our identification documents as well as we can. After all, nothing can kill an idyllic getaway like the loss of your passport.
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