Lost Your Passport? Here's What to Do

Follow these steps at home and abroad for finding and replacing a lost or stolen passport.

Stolen or lost passport
Photo: Tina Berning

Look Again

Though your first instinct may be to call the authorities, have someone else sift through your belongings with fresh eyes, advises Brenda Sprague, deputy assistant secretary for passport services for the U.S. Department of State. "Once it's been reported lost, too bad," she says. The document is canceled, and details go into Interpol's Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database. Anyone, including you, who is caught trying to use a document that's been reported missing could be detained—and at the very least will be denied entry or boarding. So have a pal check your pockets, drawers, safes, suitcases, and other bags. If you're at home, be sure to search the clothes you were wearing the last time you used your passport.

Call it in

If you're overseas and you're certain the passport is gone, contact a U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you can; a staff member will take the report and tell you how to get an emergency passport. (The embassy generally can't issue documents on weekends or holidays.) You'll have to pay a fee and should arrive with identification and a new passport photo. Emergency passports are good for a year; when you get home you can exchange it for a regular book at no charge. If your passport goes missing at home, you can file a report on the State Department's website. You'll have to apply for the replacement in person.

Review Your Plan

Some countries—including France—may not allow you in with an emergency passport, because it lacks the electronic data chip embedded in a regular version. Manage your itinerary accordingly.

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