Friendly Planet Blog

What to do if your US passport is lost or stolen

I love getting packages in the mail. Who doesn’t? And when the only thing separating you from an international voyage is your passport, it’s pretty exciting when that package arrives.

I told you how to apply for a U.S. passport, which is your ticket to travel the world. But there might come a day when that ticket is lost or stolen. Here’s what you should do if you’re ever faced with that unfortunate circumstance.

The first step to recovering a lost or stolen passport should be taken as soon as your passport arrives in the mail. And that is to sign it.

Next make photocopies of the signature and photo pages. File away one copy, and put the other one in your wallet. You’ll also want to do the same for the extra passport photos I suggested purchasing in my previous post.

If your passport is lost or stolen, don’t panic. It’s very easy to replace a passport. And if you make photocopies, you’re already one step ahead.

As soon as you realize it’s gone, you need to report it to the U.S. Department of State. You do this by calling them toll free at 1-877-487-2778. Then you have to fill out Form DS-64, which can be obtained online or from any Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency. This form will be placed in the Consular Lost or Stolen Passport System to prevent the misuse of your missing passport. Once you complete it, mail it to:

U.S. Department of State
Passport Services
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

If you want to replace your U.S. passport right away, you’ll also have to fill out Form DS-11. But you can’t mail it in. You have to go to an Acceptance Facility or Passport Agency and submit both forms in person. From this point on, you follow the same steps as if you were applying for a U.S. passport. If you need to refresh your memory on how to do that, flip back to my previous post.

If you’re outside of the U.S. and your passport disappears, the same steps apply, except you’ll need to contact the U.S. Consulate in that country instead of the U.S. Department of State. They will tell you exactly what to do. Contact information for a U.S. Consulate is widely available and the front desk of your hotel probably has it on hand.

Here’s where it pays to travel with a photocopy of your passport and an extra photo. This information will help any foreign consulate track your records quickly and get you a new passport issued without too much hassle. You could even get a new passport issued the same day. Turn around time is much faster outside the U.S. since, in most cases, the traveler will have to depart the country sooner rather than later.

It’s important to mention that a U.S. citizen can’t possess two valid U.S. passports. So if you recover your passport after you have reported it lost or stolen, it can’t be re-validated. You have to submit it to the address listed above for it to be destroyed. Or if you like to keep your old passports, you can opt for it to be canceled and returned to you.

All of this information is available on the U.S. Department of State’s website. Its FAQs section is very extensive as well, but if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to write to me.

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