Losing your passport in a foreign country is probably one of the worst nightmares for a traveler. Your passport is your identity in alien land, without which you are left helpless and traumatized.
So what does one do when you discover the fact that your passport is no longer in your possession? Let us find out…
Step 1: Inform the Police
You must immediately contact the police to report your passport missing (or stolen). If language is a barrier, be patient and request to speak to someone who knows English. Once you are able to communicate with the department, give them an official statement mentioning details like where the passport was stolen or the last time you saw it and when you were planning to exit the country.
Take a copy of this statement as this becomes a legal document affirming that your passport is not in your possession. This statement will help you stay on in the country while you get a replacement of the original passport. It will also help you check into a hotel if you need to extend your stay. But before that, the police would direct you to your country’s Embassy or Consulate, depending on what is nearby.
Step 2: Contact the concerned Embassy or Consulate
Your country of residence has diplomatic representation in the form of an embassy in a foreign country’s capital and as consulates in the smaller cities. If you can’t seem to find your way, it is always a wise idea to seek help as time is of essence. Ask a cab driver or the hotel clerk for clear directions.
You must carry with you –
- Two recent photographs
- Money/Fee for the replacement passport
- An identification card (For instance, Driver’s License)and a copy of your passport (This will help expedite the process so even if they are unavailable, request someone back home to mail them to you or send fax to your hotel.)
Make sure you visit the embassy during regular office hours; else you may have to visit again. In case you can’t get through, note down the necessary phone numbers before you leave.
Step 3: File for Replacement
At the embassy, you will be required to fill a replacement form that may also be available on your country’s official government website. You will need to mention –
- Personal information (like your date of birth, social security number and your parents’ names along with their birth dates)
- Passport information (like where and when it was issued. Your hotel may help you with this if you have provided a copy of passport while booking your room.)
Once you complete all the formalities and turn in the documents, your temporary passport will be ready within 24 hours. Before it’s issued, the embassy will ask a few questions to verify the information you provided and will make you sign it. This temporary passport can now be used for at least three months. You will also receive a document stating that you don’t have to pay anything else when you apply for the permanent replacement.
- Re-book Your Flight in Time
Inform the airline that you would be missing your flight. Explain the situation and request them to replace your ticket. Sometimes the airline can help you by charging less for the next flight. It is best to do the talking in person as they may be able to look up your information and cancel your existing ticket to put you on a different flight home.
- Hold On to Your Temporary Passport
You only get one chance! Now it may be relatively easy to get a replacement of your passport but make sure you don’t lose that too as that may alert the national security, creating suspicion that you may be helping non-residents enter the country. Application for the second replacement will be complicated.
- Always Keep Aside Emergency Funds
Other than victims of major disasters and serious crime, all tourists applying for the replacement of their passports will have to pay a specific fee. You must ensure that you have some funds put aside for emergencies like these.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Replacement passports are not issued on holidays and weekends. This may disrupt your travel plans as you will have to wait for a few days. Make sure you remain positive and explore the place like you would have under normal circumstances. Do not punish yourself by sulking in your hotel room.
- Keep Important Documents on Mail
Accessing mail has become easier via smartphones. So the next time you travel abroad, make sure all your important documents, including a soft copy of your passport, are instantly available to you. Send yourself an email with the passport copy attached. Also mail yourself the copies of additional IDs, air tickets, hotel reservations and photographs.
P.s.: Such an incident happened to a very close friend who was visiting Prague, so if you think it can never happen to you… think again.