Emergency Assistance

Passport Trouble: How to Avoid Being Stranded in Another Country

map and passport

What to Do if You Lose Your Passport Abroad

You’re enjoying the sun on your face and the sand between your toes as you walk along the beaches of Acapulco, Mexico. You head back to your hotel room to get ready for the evening only to find out your passport is nowhere to be found. While you may have planned your trip down to the smallest detail, you may not have planned for this…

Having your passport lost or stolen can turn any dream vacation into a nightmare. Not only does it create barriers to returning home, it puts you at risk for identity theft. Use these tips to avoid being stranded in a different country so you can get back to enjoying the rest of your trip.

Contact the local police

If you discover your passport has been lost or stolen, tell the hotel concierge to contact the police. The hotel’s job is to make your stay as comfortable as possible, so they will do their best to help you resolve the issue. They may even have someone act as an interpreter if you run into language issues with the local police.

If you are staying with friends or relatives, report your missing passport to the local police immediately. If you cannot communicate with them due to language barriers, they may provide an interpreter to help you.

Once your passport has been reported missing, it becomes invalid and cannot be used for travel. Before you leave the police station, be sure to have a copy of the police report for your records.

Find a U.S. embassy or consulate

Once you leave the police station, locate the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate in the country to schedule or request an emergency appointment. Ask to speak to the Consular Section to report your passport lost or stolen.

It is crucial that you tell a consular officer all of the details of your trip, especially if you are scheduled to leave the country shortly so they can provide the proper assistance. Keep in mind that U.S. embassies and consulates cannot issue passports on weekends or holidays, so you may want to plan accordingly.

passport and application

Apply for a replacement passport

Prior to arriving at the embassy or consulate for your emergency appointment, you will need to obtain an appropriate passport photo if you do not have extra copies. The consulate may provide onsite photo services or point you in the direction of a store where you can get passport photos. You will also need to obtain other documentation such as:

You will also need enough money to pay for passport replacement fees. U.S. embassies and consulates accept the local foreign currency equivalent to U.S. dollar amounts. To find out if other payment methods are acceptable, you will need to contact the embassy or consulate. Emergency financial assistance is available for U.S. citizens abroad who cannot afford these fees. Depending on your situation, the fee may be waived temporarily until you return to the states.

Replacement passports are valid for 10 years for adults or five years for minors, but can take days to process. However, if you have urgent travel plans, a limited-validity, emergency passport can be issued more quickly, allowing you to return to the U.S. or continue your trip. Once you return home, you will need to turn in your emergency passport and get a full-validity passport.

To help you handle the frustration, hassles and worries of losing a passport, consider enrolling in the Legionnaire Endorsed Emergency Assistance Plus (EA+). This program provides lost document assistance for travelers like yourself in case important documents need to be replaced during your trip.

What if I find my lost passport?

If you recover your passport after it was reported lost or stolen, submit it to the address listed on the back of the DS-64 form. When you submit it, you can request it to be cancelled and return back to you. If not requested, it will be destroyed.

If you’re planning a trip abroad, you’ll want all of the travel assistance you can get. Prepare yourself for the unexpected and research your emergency travel options.

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