Easily Report and Replace a Lost Or Stolen Passport

By J. Ben Pate

An individual must bring a passport when traveling outside of the United States. This document serves as proof of identity for every United States citizen and travel beyond the U.S. borders cannot be done without it. A lost or stolen passport while traveling will prevent the passbook holder from being readmitted to the U.S. Therefore, everyone should know how to replace the document in order to act quickly in such an emergency situation.

When the passbook is misplaced, the holder should notify the government without delay. There have been situations where a passport was taken and the thief tried to quickly use it in order to travel. Quick reporting on the part of the passbook holder will prevent this from happening. Reporting can be done via the telephone or by completing and submitting the government DS-64 report. If the person is traveling outside of the U.S. when the incident occurs, the local U.S. consulate or embassy should be informed.

Those who have lost their passbook while traveling will find it a bit more difficult to replace. The individual should make copies of the passbook prior to traveling and stash these in a carry on, checked baggage, or a wallet. A person can also obtain a certain type of insurance that will cover the replacement cost of the passbook.

The individual will need to show up in person in order to replace the passbook when traveling overseas. A directory of U.S. consulates and embassies that will handle this situation can be found on the Internet. Since Web access may not be easy to obtain during foreign travel, the individual should ask the hotel staff for the information. To be the most proactive, passbook holders should do their research, print this information prior to leaving for the trip, and pack it with the other travel documents.

When a passbook is recorded as missing, it will be invalidated immediately and will not be permissible for travel. If the passbook is later located, it must be turned in to the U.S. State Department for handling. The agency will cancel the document and provide it to the passbook holder if requested. The cancelled document will not be valid for international travel, so the holder should make sure it is lost before it is reported as such.

A new passbook must be obtained in person with the Passport Agency or Acceptance Facility. The holder will need to re-apply as if this were the first time the passport was being obtained. The report of lost or stolen passport will also need to be supplied to the government. The applicant will receive a new passport within four to six weeks of submitting the application and supporting documentation.

If the passbook is lost immediately before traveling, this presents a complication. Many travelers will not be able to wait up to six weeks for regular government processing of the documents. They may then opt for expedited processing services that will result in a new passport within two or three weeks. If this still is not quick enough, the individual may retain the services of a private company that will rush processing for an additional fee.

The situation of having a lost or stolen passport is inconvenient, but as long as the holder follows the proper steps, it is not devastating. Passport holders should immediately report the document as missing and then obtain a new passbook. Getting the new document while traveling will be a bit more expensive due to rush processing, but it will allow the individual to continue travel.

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