What to Do if Your Passport is Stolen in South America

Passport stamps
Daniel Greer

The loss of a vital document like your passport can be a catastrophe for many people if it happens abroad, but sadly it is something that does happen to a small proportion of travelers every year.

If you are not sure about what to do, having a passport stolen can leave you at a loose end trying to figure out how you are going to get home, and what you can do when local officials or hotel staff actually need to see your passport.

There are of course ways to reduce the chances of having your passport stolen, and precautions that can make it easier to deal with the situation once it happens, but it is very important to stay calm and to remain pragmatic when dealing with the situation.

Retrieve Copies of Your Documents

One of the best steps that you can take before traveling is to scan copies of your passport and other travel documents to be stored online so that you can download them if the worst happens and they are stolen.

However, this isn't the only place where you can retrieve copies of your documents, so it is worth thinking back to see if your hotel or one of the activity providers that you have used may have copies of your passport they can give you.

While it isn't essential to have a copy of your passport in order to get another, it certainly makes the process a whole lot easier, and the staff at the embassy and local police will be able to be much more helpful.

Report the Theft of Your Passport to the Local Police

This is a very important step as you will certainly be asked more details about how the passport was taken and whether or not this will be reported when you try to get another passport so that you can try to get home.

If you do not speak Spanish, or Portuguese if you are traveling in Brazil, find a friend that can help you translate if you can, otherwise you may have to do the best you can conversing with the local police.


Contact Your Nearest Embassy

Your national embassy will be a great source of help if you have had your passport stolen, and depending on how your country operates they will be able to put you in touch with the right area that can help to reissue a passport.

They may be able to help in terms of translation so that you can communicate with local police, while in some cases they may also be able to help if you are scheduled to be traveling over the next couple of days. If you are traveling long term then you may be able to order a passport and have it delivered to you as you travel. 


Emergency Travel Documents

Emergency travel documents are exactly what the name suggests, a document that can be provided by an embassy that you can use to get home if your passport has been stolen.

They key thing to remember is that the embassy will usually look for evidence, such as a police report, confirming details of the theft and that the passport has indeed been stolen, before they are able to issue you with these documents. Check before booking an appointment at the embassy what you will need to take with you.


Precautions that Can Help if Your Passport is Stolen

The first step that can really be helpful is to make sure you can access copies of your passport, along with any flight and transport documents or visas.

These can either be stored on a cloud drive, or some people will email them to themselves, and keep them in an easily accessible email account as a backup. It is also worth making sure that you carry your passport as safely as possible in an inside pocket with a zip or button fastening to try and prevent any thefts.

Was this page helpful?