Your passport is a very important document. It is a key document that provides evidence of your identify and citizenship and it is also your gateway to international travel. Without it you may not be able to legally travel between countries. This is why you must also keep it safe to combat possible fraud and stop criminals from assuming your identity.
Unfortunately, no matter how careful you are with your personal belongings, things go missing or are stolen all the time. Shit happens.
The best travel advice that anyone can receive is:
- Get travel insurance for the duration of your trip. (Tips here on how to choose the best travel insurance for you). Ensure is it comprehensive and covers anything you might do while you are travelling (hot air ballooning, car hire, snow sports).
- Be prepared with copies of everything. Ensure you have a photocopy of your passports and any valid visas in your luggage and email an electronic copy to yourself and a trusted family member or travel partner. Having an electronic copy of your travel itinerary and identity documents stored safely and securely can save you much time and hassle.
If your passport is lost or stolen, it can be a very stressful time. My bag, with all my identity and both hubby and my passports, was stolen in Paris in what was one of my worst travel fails of all time. One thing (of the many things) I learned from this disaster was: DON’T PANIC.
I hope this never happens to you. But if it does…
Here are eight simple steps to help you sort out the mess and get back to travelling
1. Don’t panic.
Worse things have happened and this is something that can be easily sorted. Have you misplaced it? Retrace your steps. Has it been stolen? Are you sure?
2. Do not travel without your passport.
It is illegal and if you get caught you might be imprisoned. If you are unable to prove your citizenship with your passport, your government may not be able to assist you if you get into trouble.
3. Report it.
You are required by law to report the loss or theft of your passport to your government authority as soon as possible. Passports reported as lost or stolen are immediately and permanently cancelled.
If you are Australian, you can report your lost or stolen passport to passports.gov.au, by calling the Australian Passport Information Service (APIS), or at your nearest Australian diplomatic mission or consulate. They can also help you with advice and information.
4. Was anything else lost or stolen?
If your bag or wallet has been lost or stolen you will need to recall all of the bank cards, credit cards and other membership cards or forms of identity that might need to be cancelled. Report and cancel these one by one to ensure no one is accessing your funds or stealing your identity. Your bank or travel cash card provider should be able to provide you emergency access to cash very quickly and send a new card to you while you are travelling.
5. File a police report with the local police authorities.
If your passport, any other identity documents, bank cards or cash have been stolen you will need a police report to prove the theft and claim the expenses of replacing them from your travel insurance provider.
6. Start your travel insurance claim process.
IF you have travel insurance (and why wouldn’t you?) report the loss or theft to your travel insurance provider as soon as possible. They might be able to provide you with helpful advice and contacts or emergency funds. If the circumstances of the loss or theft were outside your control and not due to your carelessness, your policy should cover the costs of a new passport and any out of pocket expenses if you are forced to change your travel plans. Obviously, this depends on your policy and its terms and conditions.
7. Apply for a new passport.
At your diplomatic mission or consulate you can complete an application form and meet all the normal requirements to apply for a new passport. You will have to complete a section with details of the loss or theft of your previous passport. There will be an application fee and possibly an additional lost or stolen passport fee.
Alternatively, if you are already travelling and do not have time to wait 10 working days for a new passport, you can apply through your diplomatic mission or consulate for an “Emergency Passport”. The Australian Emergency Passport is only valid for 7 months, but it will be able to get you home or your next destination safely.
8. Apply for new visas.
Were any of your travel visas lost or stolen with your passport? These will need to be replaced. Check with the local authorities on how you can do this and follow their instructions. Hopefully, any fees incurred will be covered by your travel insurance provider.
Note: our UK working visas were in our passports when they were stolen. From the UK it took 15 weeks to replace them. Others have told me that this process is much less stressful and much quicker from outside the UK. Be aware that every country will have a different set of rules and processes.
It might help to remember, travel fails happen all the time (here is a list of my biggest travel fails) and many other travellers have been through this exact experience. Ask for help and use the resources at your disposal.
It is all part of the journey and won’t it make for a good travel story?
Looking for more travel inspiration?
Check out my recommendation on what to do in:
Amsterdam, Bali, Berlin, Brisbane, Bristol, Budapest, Cambridge, Canberra, Cappadocia, Chamonix, Copenhagen, Dubrovnik, Istanbul, Kotor, Kyoto, London, Lyon, Madrid, New York City, Noosa, Paris, Riga, Scotland, Tokyo and Washington D.C.