Do you know how to keep your passport safe? Your passport is a valuable document, and if it is lost, stolen, or damaged, you will have to go through a special procedure to replace it. (G3passports.com can help, of course!) Over the years, we’ve heard a lot of stories from travelers about how their passports were lost, stolen, or mutilated. We’ve compiled some of the most common reasons that passports go missing or are damaged, and have advice for you about how you can keep your passport safe!
Most Common Reason for a Stolen Passport: Pickpockets
Even in the safest cities, pickpockets can be a problem. Petty thieves love to target distracted tourists, looking for an opportunity to grab a wallet, phone, camera, or passport. A pickpocket could strike anywhere, but you’re most at risk when you’re at a crowded tourist attraction or using public transportation. Luckily, with a little forethought, you can keep your passport safe from thieves!
- Don’t keep your passport in your back pocket, or in the outer pocket of your backpack. Pickpockets have that name for a reason — they are amazingly good at slipping your belongings out of your pocket without you feeling a thing!
- Don’t sling your bag over the back of a chair. It’s too easy for a thief to grab the bag, or just brush by and yank your wallet out of your bag.
- Beware of distractions. Pickpockets often work in pairs or teams. One will distract you by bumping in to you, spilling something on you, or handing you a flower or card. Meanwhile, their partner in crime will be robbing you of anything they can grab!
- Do use a traveler’s security wallet to store your passport, credit cards, and cash under your clothes. We know, they’re not the coolest accessory, but spending part of your trip at the police station and US Embassy isn’t cool either! There are many different kinds of traveler’s security wallets, including ones to be worn around the waist, the neck, or even around your leg. Another good option is to keep your passport in the inner pocket of a coat that you’ll keep buttoned or zippered… but don’t leave that hanging over the back of a chair!
If your passport is stolen while you are in the United States, G3passports.com can help you replace your stolen passport quickly. However, if your passport is stolen while you are overseas, you will need to visit a US Embassy or US Consulate to have a new passport issued before you fly home.
Most Common Reason for a Mutilated Passport: Water Damage
If you’ve taken our advice about keeping your passport in the inner pocket of your jacket, make sure you take it out before you do your laundry! Believe it or not, one of the most common reasons for a mutilated passport replacement is because the passport has gone through the washing machine and the dryer. The US State Department has been steadily improving the design of passports to make them more impervious to damage, but water damage is still a serious concern. We have seen water-damaged passports that were considered mutilated because mildew grew under the plastic coating of the information page, or because the binding of the cover became loose. If you have any visas in your passport, those are even more susceptible to water damage. The ink on your visa can easily run, or the water can loosen the glue, causing your visa sticker to fall out.
In addition to keeping your passport out of the washing machine, we recommend using a plastic or vinyl passport cover to help keep your passport dry in case it’s ever caught out in the rain.
G3passports.com can help you determine if your damaged passport is in bad enough shape to need the mutilated passport replacement procedure. If your passport is only lightly damaged, you may be able to do an early passport renewal instead.
Most Common Reason for a Lost Passport: Misplaced at Home
We can’t tell you how often we’ve spoken to travelers who have lost their passports inside their own homes! “It’s around here somewhere,” they’ll say, but with an international trip rapidly approaching, they may wind up having to do a lost passport replacement if the passport can’t be found. We always encourage travelers to do a thorough search before starting the replacement process, because once you have reported your passport lost, it will be cancelled. Even if you find your passport the next day, you won’t be able to use it for travel.
The simple solution is to designate a place that you always store your passport between trips. As soon as you get home, put your passport away in the same safe place as before. This will help keep it out of the washing machine, too!