Having a passport stolen is one of a traveler’s biggest concerns.Travelers tend to keep all of their important documents together, so when a passport gets stolen it’s not unusual for other papers such as a driver’s license, tickets, travel itinerary and traveler’s checks to be stolen at the same time. But it can also create big problems to have your passport stolen here at home. Whether it happens at home or abroad, a stolen passport can lead to a stolen identity.
When traveling abroad, do your best to protect yourself and your belongings by following a few practical safety tips:
- Don’t wear expensive jewelry or dress to show affluence
- Don’t wear fanny packs or load yourself down with too many travel bags at once, especially when riding public transportation or walking through crowded areas such as an open-air market
- Don’t keep valuables in outside pockets, especially back pockets
- Do keep valuable documents in an inside pocket or a money belt or pouch that’s worn inside your clothing
- Do make copies of all your important travel documents and store them separately from the originals, such as in your hotel’s safe
- Don’t wander in unfamiliar places, especially at night
- Do be aware of your surroundings at all times
- Do familiarize yourself with the location of the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country you’re visiting
- Do make certain you have adequate international health insurance and car insurance in case an emergency should arise
Replacing Your Passport
Whether you’re at home or traveling abroad, the first step to take after your passport is stolen is to visit the local police department. File a police report and obtain a copy of it.
- While AbroadAfter receiving a copy of the police report call the U.S. embassy or consulate. It may be necessary to make an appointment, but a consular official can make exceptions in emergencies. Bring proof of citizenship and identification if possible. Having safeguarded copies of your personal documents expedites the process. In most cases a temporary passport can be issued to allow for travel.
- At HomeIn addition to contacting local police, fill out a DS-64 form from the U.S. Department of State or call the National Passport Information Center to report your passport as stolen. Complete a DS-11 application form to apply for a new passport. You will also need to submit proof of citizenship, proof of identity, a photocopy of one form of identification and a new passport photo. Submit your passport packet in person to an authorized Acceptance Agent such as a county clerk or designated post-office employee. You will be required to pay an execution fee to the Acceptance Agent upon delivery. If you need a passport quickly paying extra fees can result in a replacement within 48 hours.
Being the victim of a crime–even a non-violent one like pick-pocketing or theft–can be extremely upsetting, but it doesn’t have to be a disaster. For added security, consider placing a fraud alert on your credit reports so you can keep a close watch for any unauthorized charges or accounts in your name. Travelers misplace or have passports stolen everyday so you can be confident that American authorities overseas and at home know how to help you.