Steps to Take If Your Passport is Lost or Stolen

Written by Christi Hayes and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

A passport is a very valuable document, which is why it should come as no surprise that identity thieves routinely use passports to commit crimes. A passport allows you to cross international borders with relative ease, but when placed in the wrong hands it can lead to serious crimes being committed. For these reasons, a stolen or lost passport can lead to plenty of stress and consternation, especially if you are abroad. Below is a look at what you should do if your passport is lost or stolen whether at home or overseas.

In the United States...

If you are currently in the United States and have no intention of leaving the country within the next two weeks, then you might think that losing your passport is no big deal. The fact is that losing a passport is always a serious issue and you need to report a lost passport immediately. The longer you wait to do so, the higher risk you run of having your identity stolen. The U.S. Department of State has an online application that allows you to report a lost passport. Alternatively, you can also contact the State Department via telephone or through the post. When you want to replace your passport you can simply contact a passport agency or center and apply for a new passport.

If you are planning on leaving the United States within the next two weeks then you need to report the lost passport as described above and also get a replacement passport as soon as possible. Depending on how quickly you need the passport, you may be issued an emergency passport that is only valid for a limited period of time. Once you return to the United States you will need to apply for a full validity passport.

While abroad...

If you lose your passport while abroad then you need to report the lost passport to the State Department, again by going online or calling them directly. You can also submit a Form DS-64 through the post to report a missing passport, but this will likely be impractical and time consuming while abroad. Once your passport has been reported missing, head to your nearest U.S. consulate or embassy to get a replacement passport. Depending on how quickly you need the passport, the embassy or consulate can either issue you a new passport or provide you with an emergency passport.

While losing a passport is a frightening experience, it can be quickly overcome by following the steps described above. Notifying the authorities about your lost passport as soon as possible and applying for a new passport are keys towards reducing your chances of falling victim to identity theft.

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