A U.S. Passport allows people to travel internationally for business and pleasure. However, on very rare occasions, you may find that your passport has become lost or stolen. This may seem scary, because leaving your house without your drivers license is one thing, but being in a foreign country without any proof of identification can make a person feel lost. Luckily, there are contingencies in place in case of such an unfortunate event.
What to do if your U.S. Passport becomes lost or stolen
The first thing you should do is remain calm. While traveling, being without your main identification can be unsettling, but it is also a situation that can be rectified rather quickly, no matter where you are.
Look up the number or address of the nearest United States Embassy or Consulate. Once they have been informed that your passport has been lost or stolen, the process will be set in motion to get you a replacement as quickly as possible. Once you have notified the proper agencies, the stolen or lost passport will become invalid, meaning that no one else can attempt to use your identification without immediately being flagged for breaking the law.
The next thing you need to do is to get to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, fill out, and present the Application for a U.S. Passport (form DS-11), as well as the Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passports (DS-64). This takes the process a bit further in that you will not only be getting a brand new replacement passport, but if your old one is recovered, it will either be returned to you or destroyed depending upon how you fill out the forms. Remember, a passport that is reported lost or stolen cannot be re-validated. Once is has been flagged, it is no longer good.
The waiting game
Once you apply for a replacement passport, you will receive it in about 4 weeks. Unfortunately, not many people travel abroad to one location for months at a time. If you are traveling for business purposes, you will probably need to be back on a plane in under a week – not to mention the adjustments you need to make if your passport is stolen on a stopover flight to your main destination.
If you need a replacement passport in less than a month, you can put in a rush request, and the turnaround time is about 2 weeks. This of course, depends on where you are, how backlogged the U.S. Embassy or Consulate is, whether or not your passport requires a foreign visa because of your destination, and a host of other factors.
There is an age old axiom that if the government can do something well, then the private sector will find a way to make it more efficient. In the case of lost or stolen passports, there are private companies that have partnered with the United States Department of State in order to expedite the replacement process. This can cut down the time you are waiting for a new passport from a few weeks to a few days, and in some cases even less.
These third party services will let you fill out your information on-line and then take on the tasks of processing the necessary paperwork for you, and making sure your applications and forms are submitted to the correct agencies and passed through with approval in the shortest possible time. By using these services, you will not feel stranded when you travel, watching your funds get eaten by hotel stays, meals, and other things while you wait for weeks in order to get a new passport.
Losing a passport or having it stolen can be a very traumatic experience, because it is one thing to be a stranger visiting another country, and a rather harrowing experience to be in another country without any identification or proof of who you are. The good news is that if you have access to a computer or phone, you can easily rectify the situation.
With the services available today – from the conventional methods offered by the U.S. Embassies, to the private service companies that can get you a replacement passport in a time frame that is sometimes as short as 24 hours, there is no reason to panic if you are traveling and you suddenly find yourself without a passport for one reason or another. There are options available and services at your disposal that can make sure your lost or stolen passport is replaced in a timely manner, so you can get back on track with your travel plans.