Here's What To Do If You Lose Your Passport Abroad

Photographed by Winnie Au.

The unthinkable has happened: You've looked through all the back pockets of your pants and every single hidden compartment in your purse, but your passport is nowhere to be found. You've retraced your steps up till the point your passport was last seen, and still — no dice.

Losing your identity documents is one of the most terrifying scenarios to happen to someone traveling abroad. While you may feel defeated for being so careless, now is not the time to play the blame game. You'll need a valid passport to re-enter the U.S., but the situation can be salvaged if you act fast. We've put together the step-by-step process on how to get your credentials replaced and return to your homeland relatively unscathed.

File A Police Report
If you're certain that the loss of your passport is due to theft, make sure you get on this ASAP to prevent a case of identity theft. Head to a police station nearest to you to file a report. This written confirmation is not absolutely necessary, but can help eliminate any potential trouble with criminal investigations down the line.

Get In Touch With An Embassy Or Consulate
Find your closest U.S. embassy or consulate to inform the authorities of your situation. Make the details of your travel very clear if you have imminent plans to return to the U.S., as that makes your eligible for an emergency passport. This document is normally issued within 24 hours and will get you out quickly, but is only valid for a limited period of time. Once you return to the U.S., you'll be asked to apply for a new full passport (which will last for ten years).

If you still have some days remaining in your current country on your trip, you'll be directed to renew your passport normally. This will normally take a few business days, as a new passport needs to be mailed from the U.S.

Bring Everything You Need
To save time, make sure you visit the embassy armed with all the documents you need. This includes a passport photo (call the embassy ahead of time to find out the best places to get it taken), your driver's license, print outs of your travel tickets, a $140 replacement fee, and a police report if you filed one.

During the appointment, you'll be asked to fill in an application form and a statement describing how it went missing. It's useful to give all the paperwork a read beforehand to ensure that you have all the information ready to go.