When traveling, it is sometimes difficult to remember where each of your items is hiding. The toothbrush may be in the carry-on; your dress shoes are in the regular luggage; your wallet is in the inside front pocket of your jacket; and you are probably clutching your passport in your hand so that it is visible and at the ready when security asks to see it. However, sometimes your passport has a little mishap and gets damaged. Maybe it fell into a puddle when you were getting out of your cab. Maybe you dropped it in the airport, only to have the rushing crowds trample it beyond recognition. Maybe you threw it away accidentally with your cup of coffee, and when you dug it out of the trash can; you could barely recognize your own face in the photograph.
Whatever the reason – from the unforeseen accident to the normal wear and tear from your passport being in your pocket – there are ways to replace a damaged passport and get on with your traveling.
Do not bend, fold, tear, spindle, or mutilate
No one can calculate for accidents, no matter how hard they try, but it does happen. According to the U.S. Department of State, if there is visible tearing or water damage to the cover or pages containing the vital identification information on your U.S. Passport, it is required that you fill out a form and submit the necessary information in order for the passport to be replaced. The form is DS-11, which, if you already have a U.S. Passport, will be recognizable as the application you filled out in the first place.
If your U.S. Passport is still in a readable condition, but maybe the pages are earmarked or the covers are bent or creased, then there is a separate form you can fill out. Form DS-82, commonly known as the U.S. Passport Renewal Form, lets you trade in your current U.S. Passport for one that is in brand new condition.
What if my U.S. Passport is damaged while I’m in another country?
Despite statistics, not all accidents happen within a mile of your home. If you are traveling in another country, and your passport becomes significantly damaged (the photograph, personal information, or RFID chip becomes compromised, etc.), you can simply treat the situation as if your passport were lost or stolen – the difference being that you are still in possession of your U.S. Passport.
Just locate the U.S. Embassy or Consulate wherever you are. Go there and explain to them the situation and how you need a replacement for your damaged passport. You will be asked to fill out forms and submit the proper identification in order to get the process started on getting your replacement passport. After this, you should have your new U.S. Passport in roughly 4 weeks. If you are unable to stay for that length of time while a new passport is mailed to you, you can check the schedules for a rushed replacement passport, which will usually come in 2-3 weeks.
What if I need my U.S. Passport sooner than that?
Most people cannot afford to extend their stay in another country by a couple of weeks. If you are traveling on business, you probably have places to be, and your budget will not allow you to stay away from work for a few more weeks while you wait for your replacement passport. If you’re traveling on vacation, having to wait for a new passport can throw off your entire itinerary. Even worse, what do you do when your passport gets damaged while you are in-between changeover flights?
Luckily, there are a number of third-party services that have partnered with the U.S. Department of state in order to help cut down the time it takes to process applications and forms for replacement passports. This means that if your U.S. Passports becomes damaged for whatever reason, you can get a replacement in well under the usual 3-4 week time period. In some cases, you may be able to have your forms processed and get your U.S. Passport replaced in under 48 hours. This is a great advantage when you need a passport and the normal waiting times just won’t work for your itinerary or budget.
No one can calculate for accidents, and while the frequency is very rare, occasionally passports do get damaged. Taking the steps to resolve the problem can be easy, but the waiting time for the processing of the forms in order to get a new replacement for your damaged passport can often conflict with your own schedule or travel budget. If you find that your U.S. Passport has been significantly damaged, or if you just want a new one to replace the rather worn-looking one that’s been with you for years, you might want to take a look at the third-party travel services that have partnered with the U.S. Department of State. These services specialize in processing the forms so that you get your replacement passport in a fraction of the time it would normally take. Why wait for you replacement when you can get back to traveling? No one likes feeling stranded because of a damaged passport. Look at your options, and you will see that you can get a replacement for your passport in no time at all.