What do you do if you lose your passport during a vacation?

Jul 11, 2012, 8:52 a.m.

One of the most common questions asked by vacationers who are planning on traveling abroad is "What if I lose my passport while on vacation?" Not only is this a great question that proves you're thinking of everything, but it's also a critically important one -- because without that passport, you can't gain entry back home. A passport is your proof of citizenship and you should hold onto it for dear life when you're traveling through another country. But if you do lose it, it's not the end of the world. You'll just have to jump through a number of hoops to get a replacement copy. Here's a checklist of what you should do in the event of a lost passport.

  1. Get ahold of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You'll have to work together with local authorities and U.S. authorities to take the necessary steps to get a replacement passport, but make this your first step.
  2. File a police report with the local authorities, even if your passport wasn't stolen but simply lost. To find the closest police station to your location, it's recommended to ask the staff of the hotel or resort where you're staying. The police report is essential to help speed the process along with the nearest U.S. Embassy.
  3. Physically go to the closest U.S. Embassy building and bring your police report. But don't just show up unannounced -- make an appointment in advance to let them know you're coming. The U.S. Embassy will issue you an emergency replacement passport that you can use to return home. This passport will only be a temporary one. Before you can travel again, you'll have to get a replacement at your own expense.

Depending on how near or how far you are to the U.S. Embassy in the country you're visiting, taking care of getting an emergency replacement could cost you handsomely in travel costs. For this reason, take extra precautions against a lost passport by ensuring you've got backup documentation with you when you travel. This includes making a photocopy of your passport and keeping it in a separate location. These days, with the advent of the internet you can feasibly email yourself a scanned copy that you can access from any place that offers an internet connection. Although you won't be able to use a photocopy of your passport to continue your travels or gain entry back to the United States, having that copy can help expedite getting a replacement.

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