For the average American, there are three pieces of identification that are more valuable than any other: your driver’s license, your social security card, and your passport. Of these three, there is one that naturally becomes far more valuable and far easier to displace when you’re on vacation: the passport.
No matter where you’re traveling, it’s hard to vacation these days without at least a few valuables in tow. People not only travel with wallets and traveler’s checks, but they also bring laptops, cellphones, cameras, and other gadgets along. Having any of these lost or stolen while traveling can be a tremendous hassle and a privacy concern, not to mention a financial loss. Unless your stolen valuable is extremely rare or expensive, however, few things compare with the difficulties created by a displaced passport – at least for those who are traveling overseas and need that passport in order to get back home.
If you find yourself in such a position while on an international trip, and you are sure that your passport has been permanently lost or stolen, it is crucial to take immediate steps to replace it. When dealing with a misplaced passport, the State Department requires you to do the following:
- Go to an official passport agency or facility, and submit a new application in person.
- At the facility, present a DS-11 (application for a new passport), a DS-64 (a statement attesting to a lost or stolen passport), and two passport photos (clear, 2 by 2 inches, and recently taken).
- Make sure that you have a valid form of identification, such as a driver’s license, with you at the facility.
- After submitting the above information, you can pay for regular or expedited passport delivery, the former of which takes 1-2 months and the latter 2-3 weeks. The replacement passport will cost you somewhere in the $100-$200 range.
These steps are easy and straightforward enough to do when dealing with a passport that has been lost while at home. But how should one go about doing this while traveling overseas? The answer, simply put, is to rely on the U.S. embassy in the country of your travels. The embassy should be able to help you work quickly through these steps by providing you with the required forms and getting you a new passport – or, at least, a temporary one – in a matter of days, not weeks. If you don’t have any identification to show the embassy (i.e., if your driver’s license was stolen as well) you can use digital records from your laptop to help prove who you are. If you don’t have any identifying information whatsoever, or if everything was stolen, it will likely take the embassy longer to get your papers in order.
Some people wonder whether they have to physically travel to the local U.S. embassy in order to replace their passport. In most cases the answer is yes, even if you are traveling in a large country and are hundreds of miles from the capital city. While switching up your plans and heading to the capital certainly poses a hassle, it is far better than finding yourself stranded abroad, with no way of getting back home.