If you are traveling abroad and your passport is stolen, there is no need to panic. However, you must act quickly to report it and get a replacement, not only to avoid disruption in your travel plans, but to prevent identity theft. If your passport is stolen, take the following steps immediately:
Report the theft to the closest United States Embassy or Consulate. There are very few countries that don’t have diplomatic relations with the United States. No matter where you plan to travel or how long you plan to stay, it’s wise to go to the website of the U.S. Department of State, and print out their list of the nearest US Embassies in the countries you plan to visit. Store the list separately from your passport. If time and distance are a factor, you can call to report it at 1-877-487-2778.
Get a replacement passport. Whether or not you call and report it stolen, you will have to get a replacement passport in order to travel back to the United States. Ask to speak to a consular officer; report the details of the theft and your travel itinerary. The officer will tell you where you can get a new passport photograph taken, which you will need before you are issued a replacement passport.
Assemble needed documents. In addition to a passport photograph, you will need the following documentation when you arrive at the embassy for your replacement passport:
- Photo identification, such as a driver’s license
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a birth certificate
- Proof of your travel plans, such as airline tickets
File a statement describing all the details of the theft. The embassy will provide the form.
After Reporting the Theft
If you were injured or assaulted during the theft, be sure to report it to the embassy as well. They will advise you to also file a police report, and they can assist you with the details. If you do file a police report, the embassy will need a copy of the report.
It is wise to be prepared in the event your passport is stolen or lost. Before you leave on your trip, take photo copies of your passport and other forms of identification. While traveling, keep the photocopies stored separately from your passport. If possible, keep the photocopies in a hotel safe. Some travelers store the original passport in a safe and carry the photocopy with them.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your passport is stolen, everything else might be stolen as well. Along with photo copies of essential identification documents, think about storing emergency cash, at least one credit card, and any needed copies of prescription medications with your ID documents. That way, if you are robbed of more than your passport, you will at the very least have one useable credit card, some cash, and copies of any essential medical prescriptions you may need to have refilled before your return to the U.S.
If you have a loved one traveling abroad and they call you about a stolen passport, you can help them by contacting the U.S. Department of State. Their Office of Overseas Citizens Services will provide assistance to you and your relative and direct them to the nearest embassy or consulate.