Losing a passport in a foreign country can be a bit nerve racking to say the least. It has happened to novice and expert travelers alike. But it can be avoided or resolved by taking a few simple precautions and/ or steps.
p.s. if you would like to know what happened to who that inspired this blog read the first comment below
Here are a couple of tips BEFORE travelling:
- Make a few copies of your passport. Keep one copy safely at home, where trustworthy family members (or friends) can access it, just in case. And keep one with you, somewhere safe in your luggage or possessions or with your travelling companion(s) or scanned in your email. Not on your person! In most countries, it is required that you always carry a recognizable form of identification, such as your passport. Sometimes I carry another picture ID (license for example), but that doesn’t always fly with the officials, but it helps me get student or teacher discounts in museums or other attractions. Learned that the hard way when I paid full price to go to Machu Picchu L
- Get a passport card. According to the travel.state.gov site, it “can be used to enter the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda at land border crossings or sea ports-of-entry and is more convenient and less expensive than a passport book. The passport card cannot be used for international travel by air.” (http://travel.state.gov/passport/ppt_card/ppt_card_3926.html)
- Always carry your passport in a safe and not so accessible place for pickpockets, but accessible to you. This sounds very common sensical, right? But time and time again, it happens to tourists, they carry documents and other valuables in their back pockets, in their backpacks (that can easily be slashed from the bottom), in exterior pockets in pursues (that can be easily zipped and unzipped in a matter of seconds, while you are checking out
Here are a couple of tips WHILE travelling…hypothetically in Guayaquil… and you leave your passport… in Customs… because you are suspected of carrying suspicious substances… but really they’re just natural supplements…and you become flustered and confused so as soon as they give you clearance you rush out of there, leaving your passport behind. Hey, it happens.
So, here are my recommendations, if you ever find yourself in such a (hypothetical—wink, wink) situation:
- Got to the airport’s Lost & Found (Objetos perdidos). Why the Lost & Found you may ask? Because most likely Customs or Immigration will not bother to try and track you down without a known address in a foreign country. So, the logical thing to do is look for it in the Lost and Found. Trust me, it’s not as bad as you may think. It’s not necessarily the place where you will find an assortment of buttons, coins, and lint filled gum make their final stop. They have a very “classified(?)” Lost and Found. If indeed your passport is turned into the airport’s lost and found make sure you go during business hours. Yes, the Lost & Found has business hours (Monday-Friday)! And you will be required to provide a copy of a picture ID and asked when you believe you lost it at the airport. “They” (airport officials/ security) will then escort you to an office where they keep lost passports (dated and stored) in a locked file cabinet. Because they take safety and security very seriously, they will ask you to write a “Thank you” note in their “autograph book” stating your name and expressing your gratitude for a job well done on their part for safekeeping your prized possession in a few sentences. Sign, and click your heels for the freedom you have just been granted. I’m not kidding!!!
- However, if you have confirmed that indeed your passport is stolen or lost (and not at the airport), then you must contact the U.S. embassy or consulate immediately-but on a weekday and not a holiday…cuz that’s when emergency worse case scenarios typically occur. You can call 1-877-487-2778 toll free and they should be able to assist you. I suggest you also make a police report. This will allow you to add validity to your case, if building a case is necessary. However, I MUST stress the following, if and when you report your passport lost or stolen, it is automatically invalidated and can no longer be used for travel. Pros about that: You can take a better passport picture and you can get a new one. Anything new is always better, right? Cons about that: You lose all your travelling stamps. And what if then you come to find out that it was under the bed, behind the toilet, or in your tattered suitcase within the hidden holes you were unaware of…just sayin’, make sure it is in fact LOST or STOLEN.
Hope this helps to prevent or ease the process of recovering your passport. Meanwhile, happy travels!!!