One of the biggest fears travelers have is of losing their U.S. passport while abroad. This can indeed be a frightening experience, but you can prepare for it in advance, and there are things you can do if it happens.
It’s always a very good idea to make copies of your passport before the trip, and take one of those copies with you in a safe and separate place. Having a copy on you will make replacement much easier. Leave another copy at home with a trusted family member or friend.
Whether you have a copy of your lost passport or not, there are five things you must do in order to get it replaced quickly.
1. Contact your local embassy or consulate
The U.S. embassy is an expert at dealing with lost passports and can help you work through the process of obtaining a replacement. Be sure to tell the consular officer all the details of your itinerary, so he or she can get your replacement passport to you in time for your departure.
Keep in mind that most embassies and consulates do not issue passports on weekends or holidays, so if you are apt to miss a flight due to delay in getting a passport, be sure to notify the airline immediately.
2. Contact your trusted friend or family member at home
If you left a copy of your passport with someone back home, contact that person and have the copy faxed or emailed to you. Even if you did not leave a copy with anyone, a family member at home can often contact the embassy on your behalf and help jump-start the replacement process by validating details of your itinerary. (See contact information below.)
3. Get new passport photos
You will need a new photo for your replacement passport. Often, your embassy or consulate can direct you to the best local place to get photos taken quickly. Having photos done at the time you go in for the replacement passport will make the process go more smoothly.
4. Fill out a new passport application and gather documents
You will need to fill out a new passport application and bring whatever identity documents you have with you to the new passport meeting. If you do not have any other identifying information, bring your travel companions with you to the meeting.
The consular officers will interview you and check whatever documents you have. They may even call your family at home to verify your identity. If all goes well, they will issue a replacement passport.
If you are traveling alone with a child under 18 whose passport was also lost, you will need a notarized statement from the other parent before you can obtain a new passport for your child. Your consular official can help you with this process.
5. Bring money to pay your fees
You will have to pay a replacement fee for your new passport. Be sure to bring cash for that. Most U.S. passport facilities will not accept credit cards, so make sure you have the correct amount for your passport and any fees before coming to the appointment.
For family members in the US assisting travelers abroad:
Overseas Citizens Services, (202) 647-5225
Contact information for all overseas consular offices and embassies: