Passport 102

Passport 102:

I lost my passport abroad. How do I get home?

When I was 21, I traveled to Greece to study photography in Paros, a small island in the Aegean Sea between Naxos and Antiparos. Shortly after arriving at Athens International Airport, however, panic seized me near baggage claim.

I had been searching for my passport in the depths of my carry-on and kept emerging empty handed.

In one last effort to find that vital blue book, I dumped the contents of my bag and confirmed what I’d been dreading: Somehow, I had just arrived in a foreign country without my passport.

Or so I thought for five terrifying minutes.

Thankfully, I retraced my steps and found the document at a nearby information desk—right where I’d set it.

While I was fortunate to have recovered my passport, some travelers are not so lucky, whether because they truly lose their book or because it gets stolen or accidentally destroyed. (Passports can slip out of your shirt pocket into the ocean, winding up soggy beyond any hope for salvation.)

When your passport truly does disappear abroad, you need to replace it before you can return home. Yes, the process of doing so will keep you from fully enjoying one of your coveted honeymoon days, but obtaining a new passport doesn’t have to be as difficult as many expect—especially if you’ve taken time to provide your travel consultant with a copy of your book’s identification page prior to traveling. More on that later.

Replacing your passport abroad

As soon as you realize your passport is missing, one of the fastest ways to start the replacement process is by contacting your honeymoon consultant. He or she will be able to direct you to the nearest United States embassy or consulate for assistance, as well as the closest location to have a new passport photo snapped. (To expedite the process, you will want to get this photo taken before heading to the embassy or consulate.)

At the embassy, you will be asked to complete a passport application, just as you would if you were renewing yours in the United States. You also will need to file a statement regarding a lost or stolen passport, which is a short form recording when you lost the document. These forms can be filled out at the embassy or consulate, or you can print them from the Department of State’s website before your arrival at the government center.

Regardless, you will need to provide the embassy or consulate with the following materials:

  • A passport photo
  • Identification (driver's license or expired passport)
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate or photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Travel itinerary (airline or train tickets)
  • Police report (if applicable and available)

Because honeymooners (and people generally) rarely travel with their birth certificate, it is wise to provide your travel consultant with a copy of your passport identification page prior to leaving for your honeymoon, and to keep a second copy securely in your luggage or wallet. Taking this precautionary step makes replacing a lost passport significantly easier, since a photocopy of the missing document satisfies the embassy or consulate’s requirement for proof of U.S. citizenship. (You also need to know your lost passport number to complete the statement regarding a lost passport form.)

Once you’ve completed the requisite paperwork and provided sufficient evidence of your U.S. citizenship, the embassy or consulate will request you pay the standard fees associated with obtaining a new passport ($110 plus processing costs). They will then issue your new book, which you will have in hand that day and is valid for the normal 10-year timeframe.

While disappointing, losing your passport abroad is not an impossible situation—especially if you have a copy of your lost passport with you or easily accessible electronically via your travel consultant.

Note: New passports can rarely be issued on weekends in most countries. If you lose yours on a Friday evening, Saturday, or Sunday, you will likely have to wait until the next business day to obtain a new one, even if that is later than your scheduled departure date.

 Capers flowering on the island of Paros.

Capers flowering on the island of Paros.

 Olive trees on the island of Paros.

Olive trees on the island of Paros.

 A sailboat docked on Paros.

A sailboat docked on Paros.