What to Do if Your Passport is Lost or Stolen

Learn how to save your trip abroad if your passport is missing

US Passport and Map
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One thing that you really can't forget when you're traveling internationally is your passport. It's pretty tough to get into or out of countries if you don't have it. Luckily, most business travelers keep close track of their passport and ensure they have it when they set off on a trip.

But what happens when you've lost your passport in a foreign country? What should a business traveler do if he or she is in a foreign country but no longer has his or her passport?

Perhaps the first step is not to worry. Losing a passport (or having one stolen) is certainly a pain and an inconvenience, but it's not impossible to recover from. In fact, most travelers who have their passports lost or stolen are able to continue their trips with relatively (okay, well, some) inconvenience and lost time.

Sounding the Alarm

If your passport is lost or stolen, the first thing you'll want to do is notify the U.S. government that it's missing. You can do this in a number of ways. If you're still in the United States, call the U.S. Department of State at 1-877-487-2778. They'll also ask you to fill out a form (Form DS-64). Of course, once you report your passport lost or stolen it will no longer be usable even if you find it.

Replacing Your Passport Abroad

The first thing to do if your passport is lost or stolen in a foreign country is to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

They should provide the first level of assistance. Ask to speak with the American Citizens Services unit of the Consular Section. If you were planning on leaving the country soon, make sure to mention your intended departure date to the representative. They should be able to assist you, and even provide information on where to get new passport photos.

Another helpful tip is to travel with a paper copy of the information page on your passport. That way, if the passport is lost or stolen, you'll be able to provide all the needed information to the U.S. embassy.

To obtain a new passport, you will need to fill out a new passport application. The representative at the embassy or consulate must be reasonably certain that you are who you say you are, and that you have proper U.S. citizenship. Otherwise, they won't issue the replacement. Usually, this is done by examining any documents you have available, responses to questions, discussions with traveling companions, and/or contacts in the United States. If you're traveling with a minor under the age of 14, you may want to find out if they have different requirements for obtaining a lost or stolen passport.

Passport Replacement Details

Replacement passports are usually issued for the full ten years that standard ones are issued for. However, if the embassy or consular official has doubts about your statements or identity, they may issue a three-month limited passport.

Normal fees are collected for replacement passports. If you don't have money, they may issue a limited passport for no fee.

Help from Home

If you have friends or relatives back in the United States, they can also notify the government to help get the process started.

They should contact the Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225, at the U.S. Department of State. They can help verify the traveler's previous passport and clear the person's name through system. Then, they can relay this information to the U.S. embassy or consulate. At that point, you can apply for a new passport at the embassy or consulate.