One of the worst things that can happen to you when you’re travelling overseas is losing your passport. The anxiety and inconvenience you’ll experience is unimaginable. So what to do if you lose your passport while travelling overseas?
It never happened to me but it was unfortunately experienced by my friend when we were traveling in Los Angeles back in 2012. We lost each other in Target, a department store in downtown LA. Given that I don’t have roaming I just decided to just go back to our hotel and wait for him there, since looking for him all over the place was no success.
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Then when I was having a quick nap at our hotel room my phone rang and I heard his gasping voice while telling me that has been mugged! My immediate reaction was to check if he was hurt. He said he’s okay, he ran to a convenience store for safety and made the call from inside. I was calm and told him to not leave that place which is just about a mile from our hotel and I will be there shortly. The hotel staff didn’t offer any help, I guess these kind of crimes are rampant in LA that you just have to deal with it by yourself.
I quickly took a cab and met with him at the convenience store. He looks pale and almost crying while he was telling me what happened. A black homeless guy about 6 feet tall grabbed his backpack while he was wearing it on his back, dragged him few meters on the floor until he finally gave up the bag. Inside the bag was his passport, wallet with his money, credit cards, government IDs and some of my basic stuff like extra battery for my camera, sunglasses pouch, etc. We called his credit card companies in the Philippines to immediately block his credit card. He lost around 50 thousand Pesos in cash.
I’m cutting the story short since the main concern here is how he will travel back to the Philippines without a passport. Based on a true story, here’s what to do if you lose your passport while travelling overseas.
1. Don’t panic. You can make the situation worst if you don’t calm down and assess the situation in a calm manner.
So that night after we went back to our hotel, he called to sister to book him the entire week at the same hotel where we are staying. He thought he would need a week to fix everything but of course that’s not the case. In the end it’s a waste and they’ve been charge full cancelation fees.
2. Report the incident to the police. The police will make a report of your lost passport and you need to take the original copy of the report with you.
It just happened that there’s a police car passing through in front of the street of the convenience store, we seek assistance from them, they made a police report which little did we know is the most essential document that we needed at that time. The officers from LAPD told us that this crime is rampant in LA, he’s just lucky that he was not stabbed or shot and there’s no chance that he could recover his passport.
3. Go to the nearest consulate/embassy of the Philippines. If you are in Schengen territory, you don’t need to worry if you’re flying out to another country under the Schengen area as you won’t cross the border control. At the embassy/consulate, fill up the necessary forms and attach the police report. Copies of your passport maybe required to confirm your identity.
He’s quite lucky that consulate in LA is open the next day so he was able to process his documents. Though we missed our morning bus going to Las Vegas.
4. The consulate/embassy will issue a travel document which you can show to the immigration officer when you are leaving the country. Which means, you cannot visit another country if you need to cross any closed border. You can only use the document when going back to the Philippines.
The process was fast, he got his travel document just after 12 noon and we boarded the bus to Las Vegas at 1PM. We went to the Grand Canyon the next day and forgot about all the trouble we’ve been through.
5. Once you’re back in the Philippines, you need to apply for a new passport and the travel document provided by the consulate/embassy will be one of the requirements. This process will go through under replacement.
Here’s how you can minimize the risk of getting your passport stolen or lost:
1. Remove the cover and put your passport in your front pocket if you need to bring it outside.
2. Leave it in the safety deposit box of your hotel and keep a copy when you’re heading out and bring a valid ID with date of birth.
3. Do not mix it with your other valuables. You don’t want to lose everything at once!
4. Never entrust it to anyone for safe-keeping. If the hotel/hostel collected your passport for check-in processing, make sure that you’ll get it back right away.
Any other suggestions on what to do if you lose your passport while travelling?? Please leave your thoughts at the comment sections below.
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