Posted in Tips for Trips

Lost Passport Crisis–Steps to Recovery


A lost passport is a tragedy for a stranded traveler. Be proactive–reduce your delays and frustration, understand the process, and stay in control of the situation.

Organize your personal information in advance—Put required documents together used to acquire your passport along with a color copy your passport identification page. Store these items securely where someone trusted can get access to them if needed to fax, mail or email.

The best-prepared traveler will compile, scan, and email this information to themselves in advance, along with contact details for the foreign embassy where they are traveling. Include contact information for the person who has access to your original documents–this person may also be able to confirm your identity through an interview.  Having this key information readily accessible is your best protection.

Some of the basic information an agency will need to verify your identity is your name, birthday, birthplace, passport number, and the original date and place of passport issue.

Be ready to be patient. While your documents are being sent for and properly verified, there will be paperwork and repetitive questioning. Repeated questions are not asked to frustrate you, they are meant to confuse criminals. Don’t assume authority figures aren’t listening or aren’t taking notes when they ask you to repeat yourself. This age-old standard makes sure your answers are consistent and serves as another method of the verification process. The documents are just backup and would never be used alone to confirm your identity. Interviews from people traveling with you, or with your established contact back home, can be useful. The results of interviews with others are compared with your answers and documents.

Elevator public

Understand the process. Appreciate how difficult it would be for someone else to assume your identity. Stay composed–focus on communicating clearly during the detailed process as it will help you move through the necessary steps faster.This will serve you best while demonstrating your innocence and shows your appreciation for the help you are receiving. An emotional outbreak will distract everyone from focusing on processing your primary request–your lost passport.

Most likely you will be asked to fill out an affidavit stating how the passport went missing, along with filing a police report. Do you believe it was lost, stolen, merely inaccessible (checked in with your luggage), or is fraud suspected?

Ways to prove your identity. Americans can contact the Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) at (202) 647-5225 for a copy of the passport application from the Federal Records Center in the U.S. Department of State. Australians can find the steps at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Canadians can go to Passport Canada.  In China, the FMPRC (Foreign Ministry of the People’s Republic of China) has advice under Section III, E. Europeans can obtain an ETD (Emergency Travel Document). Indians can use Immihelp to determine what documents are needed. For an Italian passport which has been lost or stolen, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be helpful.

You will likely need to fill out a new application form. Some countries will provide you with a renewal passport. Some countries only provide a temporary one to travel back home with–these have time restrictions and will need a proper replacement once you get home. The price will vary depending on which type you receive.


Someone else has lost their passport? Contact the appropriate agency for the traveler’s home country and find out how you can help through document sending, by answering interview questions, or providing funds/fees needed to process documents. This is especially helpful if the traveler does not have perfect resources such as unlimited phone time, transportation to a local embassy, accessible finances, experience, and time. Again, if a young or novice traveler is preparing for their trip, compile their information in a sent email which is easily accessed through phone or computer. It saves so much frustration and immediately starts the recovery process.

Bon voyage!