Losing your passport, or worse, having it stolen, is one of the worst things that can happen while traveling. A passport is essential for getting from one country to another and losing it can leave you feeling helpless. While the hassle of replacing your passport varies depending on your home country, you are not helpless and you will not be stuck in the current country forever, no matter how you feel!
This list of suggestions for what to do if you lose your passport or have it stolen is aimed at helping you feel a little more at ease if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation. We have included the specific procedure for as many countries as possible, as well as a number of general steps to follow, regardless of where you are from. If you’d like to add a specific procedure from your home country, please please send us a message on our contact page.
Prepare for a lost passport by carrying a copy of the cover page with you, somewhere separate from your actual passport. You should also carry around a copy of each unexpired visa. It is also a good idea to scan the passport and visas and have them digitally stored somewhere you can access them remotely while on the road.
In addition to copies, bring along a separate government-issued identification card (driver’s license or similar document) and don’t carry it around with you when not in transit. Leave this identification behind in the hotel, for example. When moving around, keep this id in a separate place from your passport. Having alternative identification helps tremendously when requesting a new passport.
Before you leave your home country, it is a good idea to note the address and contact info for your country’s embassy in each country you plan on traveling. When you lose your passport, the first thing you should do is contact your embassy and confirm what the steps you need to follow are. While countries do have standard procedures for helping citizens obtain a new passport, each embassy in each country may vary slightly, so make sure to get the details of what the specific embassy requires, even if you have gone online (or used our guide) and found the general steps.
Based on what your embassy tells you, the next step you should usually take is to file a police report. Find the nearest police statement and ask them what the process is for reporting a stolen passport. In most countries, you will need to fill out a form or dictate the incident to the police officer. Once you have finalized the process, make sure you get a copy of the complete report, to show to the embassy and to have for your records.
Some countries also have an online reporting system you can use to inform them that your passport has been lost or stolen. You should ask your embassy if there is an online report you should complete before heading to the embassy in person.
If you are from the United Kingdom, you can make a report here.
If you are from the United States, you can make a report here.
Your embassy will direct you to the necessary documents you will need to complete in order to request a new passport or at the very least, to request an emergency travel document. Most countries will only provide you with an emergency passport or travel document, which you can use for a specific amount of time, based on your current travel plans and only to visit specific countries. You will likely need to present a travel itinerary as part of your application.
You will also likely need to provide the embassy with a passport photo. Find a local photo shop to snap a quick photo. Usually, there are several options right around an embassy, so if you can’t seem to find one anywhere else, explore that area.
If your country has an embassy in the country you are located in, you will need to submit printed photos. If you happen to be visiting somewhere where your country, unfortunately, does not have an embassy, you will probably need to ask for an electronic version of the photo, to email or submit where necessary.
In addition to a photo, you will also need to complete certain documents to submit to your embassy to request a new passport.
If you are from the United Kingdom, you should complete the following application:
If you are from the United States, you should complete two forms, a DS-11, and DS-64, available here:
If you are from Australia, follow the steps on the following page, where you will also report your passport lost or stolen:
Most embassies will not allow walk-ins, so make sure that you schedule an appointment before heading straight there. Many countries have online registration processes for making an appointment. Run a search for your country’s embassy in the country you are in and you should be able to find simple steps for registering an appointment under the citizen’s services section. Note that most embassies are located in the capital city, so you may need to travel a bit within the country to get there.
Getting a new passport, or temporary replacement document is not free of charge. You will have to pay certain fees, depending on your home country. As these fees also vary based on how quickly you need your document, where you are located when you need it and other various factors, depending on the country, we suggest asking the embassy when you initially call them. It is always a good idea, though, to carry or have readily available the equivalent of at least $200 as emergency cash in case you need to replace your passport.
Once you have made an appointment, gather as many personal documents as you can. If you took our advice and copied the cover page of your passport, make another copy, as you will likely need to leave one with the embassy and you should still have one for yourself. The same goes for your secondary form of identification, which in the best case scenario you will be able to bring with you to the appointment, along with a copy for the embassy and for yourself.
Fill out whatever forms you will need to submit in advance and also make a copy of these for your records. If your embassy requests additional documents to be submitted with your application, make sure you have a copy of all of these before you go. Usually, you will need to submit a copy of your travel itinerary, so have that ready, including all flight and hotel bookings. Make sure to follow all instructions carefully, so you won’t find yourself scrambling in the embassy or, worse, having to return later to submit your documents.
Again, take note that you may only receive a temporary travel document. What this means is that once you get home you need to make sure you take the necessary steps necessary to get a new passport. This may not always be necessary, but confirm whether you will need to get another passport once you get home while at the embassy.
A final note for those who may find themselves in a country where there is no embassy from their home country. If you are in this position, you should contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or equivalent entity (State Department if you are from the United States) back home to ask them how to proceed. They will usually be able to send you an authenticated document, either via courier or online, which you can use to at least travel home with.