Once while visiting Morocco with a friend, the hotel manager asked us if we would like to leave our valuables in the hotel safe. Since that seemed like a pretty good idea, we readily agreed and there they remained until we were at the bus station getting ready to embark on a 4 hour journey to another town. As we were getting on the bus, we remembered that our passports were sitting safely in the hotel we had just checked out of. Oops. Epic travel fail. Luckily, schedules aren’t particularly important in Morocco and we managed to convince the bus driver to stall the bus for 15 minutes while I sprinted to the hotel, retrieved our passports and RFID passport protector , and sprinted back. If you’re not so lucky as to recover your passport, here’s what to do:
Before you leave on your trip you should always make copies of your passport, credit cards, and proof of health insurance. Leave a copy with a trusted friend or family member, scan a copy and keep it on a harddrive that can be easily accessed in the event that you need to have it emailed to you or access it remotely, keep a printed copy with you while traveling. In the event that you lose any of these documents or cards, you’ll make your life a whole lot easier if you have all of the numbers and information readily accessible. Cancelling credit cards and verifying your identity becomes a much more manageable task when you have your passport and credit card number at hand.
Contact the closest U.S. Consulate or Embassy Immediately
To expedite this process, keep a list of contact numbers of the embassies and consulates of the countries you’ll be traveling in. Once you get in contact with them, you’ll be able to cancel your passport immediately and begin the paperwork to receive a new one. Note that once you report your passport as lost or stolen, you can’t undo that action and will no longer be able to travel with it. So if you report it as missing and then find it a day later, you’ll still need to go through the process of receiving a new one because your old passport will be invalid.
You’ll need to provide passport photos. You can either take some in advance and just keep them with you while traveling (I know it sounds strange, but there are countries where you need them in order to apply for a visa and they always end up coming in handy). If you’re panicked and looking for a place to get a passport photo, try the train station. Most train stations have photo booths that will provide you with regulation-sized passport photos.
What Else Will You Need?
You’ll need to fill out a new passport application, which you can find online. You will also be asked to provide the standard information (name, date of birth, place of birth, etc.). Having a copy of your passport will expedite things greatly. You’ll also need to provide an affidavit fully describing the circumstances under which your passport was lost or stolen. You can use this form or just execute a sworn statement before the consular officer. Unless you’re the victim of a disaster or your financial circumstances prevent you from paying, you’ll be charged the normal fee to issue a passport.