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I Lost My Passport: What Should I Do?

Losing your passport can derail your travel plans and become a huge headache. But don’t panic! By reporting it lost promptly and following the right steps, you can get a replacement passport and be back on the road in no time.

As an experienced travel security professional who has helped hundreds of clients handle lost passport situations, I’m sharing this detailed guide on exactly what to do when you lose your passport, how to report it, replace it, save time and money, and avoid identity theft in the process.

Why Reporting a Lost Passport Matters

Before we dive into the replacement process, it’s important to understand what can happen if you don’t report a lost passport. The US passport is an extremely valuable identity document used by criminals worldwide for financial fraud, human trafficking, drug smuggling and even terrorism.

Here are some key stats on lost and stolen passports:

  • Every year, approximately 300,000 US passports are reported lost or stolen.
  • The US passport is one of the most coveted travel documents due to its ability to access 174 countries visa-free.
  • Stolen US passports sell for $200 to $2000+ on the black market based on demand.
  • It can take victims over 200 hours and thousands of dollars to resolve identity theft from a stolen passport.
Year Total Lost/Stolen Passports Reported
2018 344,049
2019 293,285
2020 210,334

As you can see, lost and stolen passports create a huge vulnerability for identity theft if you don’t act quickly. Reporting it immediately flags your passport as invalid in the State Department system, preventing anyone else from using it.

Now let’s walk through how to properly report your lost passport, replace it, and avoid headaches.

How to Report Lost or Stolen Passports

You have three options to report a lost or stolen passport: online, by phone, or in person at a US embassy/consulate if overseas.

Report Online

The fastest way to report a lost or stolen passport from within the US is to use the State Department’s online form. Just go to their Report My Passport Lost or Stolen page and click the link for form DS-64.

You’ll need to provide:

  • Full name
  • Date and place of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Passport number (if known)
  • Date and location passport was issued
  • Any details about how the passport was lost or stolen

Online Lost Passport Reporting Form

Sample of the online DS-64 form for reporting lost passports

Once submitted, print out the confirmation page. You can either mail this form to the address listed or take it with you to submit in person later when applying for a new passport.

Reporting online takes just 5-10 minutes. But remember, routine passport processing times start after the State Department receives your mailed documents. Reporting online does not expedite the process.

Report by Phone

You can also call 1-877-487-2778 to report your lost or stolen passport directly to a State Department representative. If you‘re hearing impaired, the TTY number is 1-888-874-7793

The agent will record your biographical details and passport information. They recommend following up later via mail with a completed DS-64 form to provide written documentation.

Calling allows you to get your passport canceled right away in a more urgent situation. But mailing the DS-64 form is still required no matter how you report it.

Report In-Person at US Embassy/Consulate

If you discover your passport lost or stolen while overseas, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate to report it before you travel back to the US.

Ask to speak to the Consular Section. Let them know your passport details and travel dates, and they can expedite issuance of a replacement. You will likely need to provide passport photos and photocopies of your identification documents.

US embassies and consulates should be your first stop for assistance with lost passports abroad. Don‘t delay reporting it!

How to Replace a Lost Passport

Once a passport is formally reported lost or stolen via one of the above methods, you can start the replacement process. This requires submitting proper forms and documentation just like applying for a brand new passport.

Here’s a checklist of everything you’ll need:

  • [ ] Form DS-11 completed online
  • [ ] Application fee payment ($130 check/money order)
  • [ ] Valid photo ID (driver’s license, military ID, etc.)
  • [ ] Photocopy of ID (front and back)
  • [ ] Proof of US citizenship (birth certificate, naturalization certificate)
  • [ ] Photocopy of citizenship proof
  • [ ] Passport photo taken in last 6 months
  • [ ] Expedite fee if needed ($60)

Let’s look at each component of the replacement process:

Fill Out Form DS-11

Just like first-time passport applicants, you need to complete the DS-11 form with your biographical information to replace a lost or stolen passport. This can be done online or printed and filled out by hand.

Make sure all details like full name, date/place of birth, contact info, Social Security number, and reason for application are complete and accurate. Missing or incorrect data can delay processing significantly.

Attach a recent 2×2 inch passport photo taken within the last six months showing your full front-facing face. No glasses, hats, or uniforms are allowed. A basic white background is best. Many pharmacies and shipping stores offer passport photo services for around $15.

Provide Citizenship Evidence

To verify US citizenship, you must submit an original or certified copy of one of these documents:

  • Birth certificate
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
  • Certificate of Citizenship
  • Certificate of Naturalization

Hospital birth certificates are not accepted – it must be the official certificate issued by the city/county/state vital records office. Make a color photocopy of your citizenship evidence to submit with the original.

Submit Valid Photo ID

Along with evidence of citizenship, you also need to provide a valid form of photo ID, plus a photocopy of the front and back. Acceptable IDs include:

  • State-issued driver’s license
  • Military or military dependent ID
  • Previous US passport
  • Permanent Resident Card
  • Trusted Traveler Program cards
  • Federal/state/local government employee ID

Note that mobile or digital IDs are not accepted. You must bring the physical driver‘s license or ID card.

Where To Apply In-Person

Where you submit your replacement passport application depends on your upcoming travel dates:

More than 7 weeks until travel: Visit any Passport Acceptance Facility like a post office, library, municipal office, or clerk of court. Search for ones nearby and call ahead as some require appointments.

6 weeks or less until travel: Request expedited service at a passport facility that offers it. Not all locations can process expedited applications. Check costs and requirements.

2 weeks or less until travel: Call the National Passport Center to make a urgent travel appointment at a Regional Passport Agency. Walk-ins will not be seen without an confirmed emergency appointment.

Appointments fill up quickly for last-minute travel so call as soon as you realize your situation. Don’t delay!

How Long It Takes to Get a Replacement

The amount of time it takes to receive your replacement passport depends on the service type:

  • Routine service: 7-10 weeks
  • Expedited service: 4-6 weeks
  • Emergency service: 2 weeks or less

These processing estimates start when your completed application is received by the State Department, not when you submit it.

Once the new passport is approved, you can opt to pay $18.32 for 1-2 day delivery service. Tracking status is available online via the State Department’s Check My Passport Status page.

Avoiding Identity Theft From Lost Passports

A lost passport can lead to different forms of identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands before being reported lost or stolen. Here are some tips to help protect yourself:

  • Report it immediately to invalidate the passport number
  • Check credit reports regularly for suspicious activity
  • Enroll in credit monitoring services to get alerts
  • Place a fraud alert on your credit files
  • Freeze credit reports to prevent thieves opening new accounts
  • File your taxes early to prevent tax refund fraud

Avoid carrying your passport unless absolutely necessary while traveling internationally. Leave it locked up at your hotel if possible and keep a photocopy on you instead.

What My Clients Have Taught Me About Lost Passports

In my years of helping travelers with lost passport situations, I’ve picked up some key lessons that can help you handle it smoothly:

  • Don’t panic! Lost passports sound scary but are fixable with the right steps.
  • Report it ASAP whether you plan to replace it immediately or not. Quick cancellation prevents fraud.
  • Keep photocopies of your passport and citizenship documents in both print and digital formats in case of emergency needs.
  • Triple check all identifying details when submitting DS-11 replacement forms to prevent delays.
  • Pay close attention to passport acceptance facility operating hours and appointment requirements. Missing a window can push timelines back.
  • Understand the processing timelines so you know realistic expectations. Expediting helps but has limits.
  • Remain vigilant about identity theft for 6+ months after reporting loss as stolen data can resurface down the line.

Key Takeaways

Losing your passport can clearly derail travel plans and create huge hassles. But you can minimize the headaches by following these best practices:

  • Report lost or stolen passports immediately online, by phone, or in-person at the nearest embassy/consulate. This cancels it to prevent identity theft.
  • Complete replacement Form DS-11 with accurate personal details and required documents like citizenship proof.
  • Know where to submit your application based on upcoming travel dates and timeline urgency.
  • Standard processing is 7-10 weeks but can be expedited for additional fees.
  • Track status online and opt for 1-2 day delivery once approved for fastest receipt.
  • Monitor your credit and identity closely for 6+ months post-loss as precautions against fraud.

Stay calm, act quickly, and follow the right steps. By reporting your lost passport and diligently replacing it, you can get back to your travels smoothly and safely! Let me know if you have any other questions.


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