Welcome to the Preparemytrip!!

What to do if you lose your passport while traveling internationally

When I studied abroad in college, my mother told me to take a photo of my passport to keep on hand in case I somehow lost my passport.

More than 10 years later, I still don’t understand why I was given that instruction since photocopied passports don’t serve as substitutes or makeshift passports, even in times of crisis.

Even so, the U.S. Department of State does recommend travelers copy all their relevant travel documents, including passports, which we will get to later.

Luckily for both me and my mom, I managed to keep my passport and all my belongings during my time abroad, but that wasn’t the case for some of my classmates.

Situations like losing your passport while traveling internationally arise for many Americans. Sometimes, you just drop or misplace it; other times, you may find yourself the victim of theft.

As you can imagine, losing your passport while overseas creates quite a pickle, and I would argue it is one of the worst-case travel scenarios. Should you find yourself in this most unfortunate situation (which we hope you never do), here’s what you need to know.

Where do I go to replace my passport?


This may seem like a no-brainer, but you cannot enter the U.S. by air, land or sea without a passport. Specifically, you need a passport book if flying or a passport card if entering via land or sea.

If you misplace your passport while abroad, you must replace it before returning to the U.S. This will require contacting the closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for help.

“We encourage travelers to keep the contact details for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate on hand when abroad,” a State Department spokesperson said via email. “The Department can assist you if you lose your passport or it is stolen.”

Daily Newsletter

Reward your inbox with the TPG Daily newsletter

Join over 700,000 readers for breaking news, in-depth guides and exclusive deals from TPG’s experts

Additionally, the agency encourages travelers to report the loss or theft of their U.S. passport to their current destination’s local police.

“However, don’t spend time obtaining a police report if doing so will cause you to miss a flight or delay your travel unreasonably,” the State Department spokesperson said.

Though you may be stuck beyond your originally planned departure, the agency will do everything it can to assist with getting you a replacement passport in time.

“If you are scheduled to leave the foreign country shortly, please provide our consular staff with the details of your travel,” the State Department spokesperson said. “We will make every effort to assist you quickly.”

Know, though, that most embassies and consulates cannot issue passports on weekends or holidays.

“In most cases, except for serious emergencies, a replacement passport will not be issued until the next business day,” the State Department spokesperson said.

What do I need to apply for a replacement passport?


As outlined online, travelers need at least six items to apply for a replacement passport, specifically:

  • A passport photo (one photo is required, and the agency recommends getting it in advance to speed up the process)
  • Identification (i.e., a driver’s license, an expired passport, etc.)
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship (such as a birth certificate or a photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Travel itinerary (like airline or train tickets)
  • Police report (if applicable)
  • Completed DS-11 application (may also be completed at the time of application)
  • Completed DS-64 statement form describing the circumstances under which the passport was lost or stolen (may also be completed at the time of application)

How much does a replacement passport cost?


The same fees associated with obtaining a non-emergency passport apply to replacement passports. You can expect to pay $130 for a passport book and $30 for a limited-use passport card.

Though replacement passports are usually valid for 10 years for adults and five years for minors, there are limited-validity emergency passports that can be produced quicker for travelers so they can return home to the U.S. or continue with their travels.

“Once you return home, you can turn in your emergency passport and receive a full-validity passport,” the State Department spokesperson said.

Is it helpful to have a photocopy of my passport?

My mother’s comment all those years ago evidently stemmed from the State Department’s recommendation to copy your relevant travel documents, including passports.

“Leave one copy with a trusted friend or relative and carry the other separately from your original documents,” the State Department advises. “Also, take a photograph of your travel documents with your phone to have an electronic copy.”

This copy can also serve as evidence of your U.S. citizenship, which is necessary to replace a missing passport.

If you want to help a friend or family member abroad who has lost their passport, you can call the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at 888-407-4747, which can connect the passport holder with the relevant embassy or consulate.

Bottom line


If you lose your passport abroad, all hope is not lost, but it’s in your best interest to locate the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate ASAP, as all travelers must obtain a replacement passport in person.

These passports serve travelers in all the same ways as a normal passport, though they may not have the same length of validity.

For more frequently asked questions on obtaining a replacement passport, visit the State Department website.

Related reading:

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Compare items
  • Total (0)