You’re planning your next adventure, or perhaps you are out somewhere in the world discovering new sights, smells, and sounds. Then you come to a panicked realization: I have lost my passport! Yes, this is bad news. But do not panic! This happens all the time and there are clear guidelines for how to replace your lost or stolen passport.

Contact The Authorities Immediately

First and foremost, you must contact the passport issuing authorities that issued your passport. In the United States, that is the State Department. In other countries, it will be your respective Foreign Ministry. I have thankfully never misplaced my passport, but in response to a comment left by another reader of this blog, I thought that the topic was one well worth researching.

I will explain below some common FAQs I found on various countries’ foreign ministry sites which explain in authoritative detail what to do if your passport has been lost or stolen, however, as I am no legal authority, I direct you to read those sites directly. You can find a number of links at the bottom of this post.

In general, these instructions will depend on one of two statuses: are you currently in the country that issued the passport, or are you abroad? If you are at home, you will contact the passport issuing authority directly. If you are abroad, you will contact your closest embassy or consulate.

Gather Some Documents

After contacting your passport issuing authority, the next step in replacing your lost or stolen passport is to prove your identity. You are going to need some documents for this, so I hope you have kept good records. Perhaps you have shared copies of all your vital documents with a close friend or family member, as I have advised in my post, 8 Things To Tell Your Family Before You Travel.

Here are the documents you will most likely need:

  • A new passport photo
  • Identification (driver’s license, expired passport etc.)
  • Evidence of citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Travel Itinerary (airline/train tickets) (only if abroad or if needing to expedite)
  • Police Report (if stolen)
  • A new passport application
  • An official statement (usually an official form) stating your passport was lost or stolen

How Long Does It Take To Replace My Passport?

This depends greatly on a number of factors. Under most circumstances, you can get your lost or stolen passport replaced within a matter of days, if truly necessary. You must typically pay a premium price for this service, go in-person to your passport issuing authority, and you might have to prove your urgency by demonstrating that you have travel arrangements coming in just a few days or some sort of emergency for which you must travel.

If you are in the fortunate position to have a little time before you cross a border again, then you can take the normal passport application route and get your passport in the typical time frame; usually a few weeks.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace My Passport?

The cost of replacing a lost or stolen passport varies drastically by circumstance and by nationality. If you need your passport replaced quickly, it will cost more. If you have been the victim of a crime, are truly unable to pay, or are having a life-or-death emergency, it is possible to have all fees waived. Again, consult your nearest embassy or the passport issuing authority at home to determine if you might qualify for a price reduction.

What Is The Status Of My New Passport?

Sometimes a new passport might be issued as a temporary passport which is only valid for a short period of time while you wrap up your current or pending travel. This seems to be fairly rare, however, so you should expect that your brand new passport will be valid for the full length of any new passport unless told otherwise. In the United States, passports are valid for 10 years. Asking what type of travel document will be issued to you as a replacement for your lost or stolen passport is something you should clarify early in the replacement process.

Here are the links to the appropriate authorities in a few countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, European Union. For other countries, just click here for a Google search.

Have you lost a passport or had it stolen? What did you learn from the experience? Please share your thoughts in the comments below, or reach me directly at @JudsonLMoore.

photo credit: Wikimedia