A lost passport overseas is a scenario every traveler dreads! But it can happen all too easily. I’m sure you can imagine yourself on your long-awaited trip to Italy, opening up your purse to discover that your passport is not where you left it. Frantically, you empty your bag, but your passport is nowhere to be found. You check your pockets, and your partner’s pockets. Nothing. You head back to your hotel and search there, to no avail. Your passport is GONE. Maybe it fell out when you pulled out your wallet to buy gelato, or maybe it got pinched by a pickpocket. Who knows!
It doesn’t matter how your passport gets lost while you are traveling. You’re going to have to replace as soon as possible. You won’t be able to board your flight home without a passport!
Here’s what to do to replace a lost passport overseas.
Step 1: Locate the Nearest US Embassy or Consulate
You will need to go to a US Embassy or US Consulate to have your passport replaced. US Embassies are located in the capital cities of most countries. In many countries, there are also US Consulates in other major cities outside the capital. You can look up US Embassy and Consulate locations at www.usembassy.gov.
Step 2: Call the US Embassy or Consulate
Once you’ve looked up the most conveniently located US Embassy or Consulate, call them and ask to speak to the US Citizen Services department. Explain that your passport has been lost or stolen, and find out the answers to the following questions:
- When can you come in to apply for a lost passport replacement? Do you need to make an appointment?
- Do you need to file a police report?
- What forms of payment do they accept for the passport fees?
- How long will it take for your new passport to be issued? Will it be issued while you wait, or do you need to come back to pick it up on another day?
If your passport gets lost on the weekend, you may need to wait until Monday to contact the Embassy or Consulate. Their offices will be closed over the weekend. However, if you have a serious emergency (like a violent crime, or a life-or-death emergency requiring you to fly back to the US), there are after-hours duty officers you can call for assistance.
Step 3: Gather the Required Documents
Before you go to the US Embassy or US Consulate, gather up all the documents you will need to replace your lost passport overseas.
You will need:
- US Passport Forms DS-11 (Application for a New Passport) and DS-64 (Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport). If you have access to a computer and printer, you can fill these forms out online and print them. Don’t sign them until you get to the Embassy or Consulate! No access to a computer? No problem. You can fill these forms out by hand when you get to the Embassy.
- One passport-style photo. Your photo should be 2″ x 2″, showing you looking straight forward against a white background. Do not wear glasses or hats in the photo. In most tourist areas, you should be able to easily find a photo shop that can take your photo. Having trouble locating a photo facility? The US Embassy/Consulate will have recommendations for nearby options.
- Proof of identity, such as your driver’s license. Don’t have your license with you? Try to provide as many alternate identity documents as possible.
- Proof of US citizenship, such as your birth certificate or a copy of your lost passport. (This is why we always recommend making copies of your passport! It’s a good idea to travel with an extra copy, and leave another at home with a trusted friend or relative who could send it to you if needed.)
- Travel itinerary showing your departure from the country.
- Passport fees.
- Police report, if you have one.
If you don’t have every one of these items, the consular staff will still work with you to help you get a passport in time for your departure. You may be issued a limited validity passport if you don’t have proper ID or citizenship documents, or if your replacement passport is issued on an emergency basis.
Step 4: Travel Home with Your New Passport
If the replacement you were issued for your lost passport overseas was issued for 10 years validity (or 5 years, for kids under age 16), you can treat your new passport just like any other passport.
However, if you were issued a limited validity passport, you’ll need to re-apply to get a full validity passport. You must do this within one year of the date your replacement passport was issued. The passport re-application is done using the same procedure as a passport name change. The good news is, if you apply within one year, you don’t have to pay the government passport book fee again!