A temporary passport is an emergency way to re-enter the United States without having the person’s original passport in hand. This is only used when a US citizen reports their passport as lost or stolen while traveling abroad. They must obtain a replacement in person by visiting the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. It cannot be obtained online or through the mail. The US Embassy or Consulate cannot guarantee a temporary passport since there are a number of factors that they must go through.
Most of the time, a temporary passport (also known as a limited passport) have extremely short validity because they are issued under only emergency circumstances such as lingering doubts due to statements made, an insufficient time to verify and clear your name with the US Dept of State, a mistakenly sent luggage to another location, or multiple passports were lost in a short period of time.
Temporary passports are usually only issued for the trip at hand, so basically it allows you only to return home, not to go anywhere else.
If you happen to misplace, lose or destroy your passport during after-hours and you are scheduled to return to the United States, an after-hours duty officer might be able to help you return still by issuing what is known as a transportation letter to the airline. They will also let the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) know at the US-end that you are entering without a passport and they must go through further verification before you are allowed to step out onto American soil.
Temporary passports can sometimes be issued to leave the country although this is unusual and is handled on a case-by-case basis. For the most part, it is only ever allowed for business or family emergencies and they are valid for also a very short period of time and may have even more restrictions than a regular returning temporary passport.
To request a temporary passport to leave the country, first you must fill out the DS-11 form. This is the actual application for the US Passport, but can also be used for the temporary passport. It can be completed in person or online. Ensure that you provide your social security number. If you do not include it, there will be a possibility that your request will be delayed and even denied altogether. Once the DS-11 form has been filled out, you will have to provide evidence that you are a citizen of the United States before the card will be sent out. This will include previously used passports, a birth certificate, a birth certificate from another country, naturalization certificate or a certificate of citizenship.
Once you have filled out the DS-11 form, contact the National Passport Information Center by calling 1877-487-2778 and speak with one of the representatives about the temporary passport. They will put in a request for you, let you know the instructions on submitting the temporary application and possibly give you an interview.
Expect to pay the expedited cost to get the temporary passport — $60. The temporary passport will be sent overnight mail or in-person if applicable. If you are not on US soil, you must go to the nearest US Embassy and they will give you the instructions on how to get a temporary passport.