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I'm just asking this question for my info. I will be traveling from India to Amsterdam on a short trip.

What should you do if you lose your passport or the passport gets stolen (especially in a Schengen country)?

As I read on the Internet that if someone loses his passport, the following things have to be done:

  • Contact the airline immediately and change the flight date to at least 2 months ahead because it will take at least 2 months to get a new passport.
  • Contact the nearest police station and file the report of lost passport
  • Go to the embassy of your country to apply for a new passport. This will take 2 months after applying

Until you get the new passport you will have to stay in town for approximately 2 months. So you should have extra money for that.

Is the above information correct? Please reply if you have a more detailed and more accurate answer.

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If you happen to lose a passport containing a visa that you need for your return flight (e.g. because you live in the US), your life just took a turn for the suck, since you'll have to wait for the new visa to arrive. Otherwise, your embassy/consulate will bring you home in good time. –  Jonas Apr 15 '12 at 14:29
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It depends almost entirely on the embassy of your country. Many embassies can sort out an emergency passport for their citizens (valid for return home only) within one day. –  dbkk Apr 15 '12 at 18:12
    
It depends almost entirely on which country you are in, whether it has an embassy or consulate of your country and, if not, whether some other embassy in the country handles emergencies for your country and, if not, how close or accessible the nearest embassy or consulate that actually can help people from your country is. Sometimes travel insurance can help. –  hippietrail Oct 16 '13 at 14:28
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It depends on the embassy. I would contact my embassy the first thing before everything. My friend lost his passport, and he didn't have to change anything because the embassy helped to issue an emergency passport. Besides, I really don't think that someone get to stay in Europe for 2 months just by losing passport. @Jonas is right and it's a different case. But I believe that someone can always go back to original country, that's what citizenship is for. –  dresden Nov 29 '13 at 15:17
    
One more thing: Even with many not-so-expensive airfares , you receive credit with the airline if cancelling the flight prior to check-in time. The credit can then be used for a later flight. This is good if you don't known when you will get your new passport, but then want to take the earliest possible flight (with the same airline). Fees apply (typically, around USD 200), though. –  DCTLib 20 hours ago

8 Answers 8

My family and I had our passports stolen two days before we were supposed to return home from Portugal to the UK - so we spent a day in the British Consulate (yes, all day) to get emergency passports (good for one use only - to get us back to the UK on our scheduled flight) and then we had to sort out new ones - which took a full day at the Passport Office in Glasgow.

It was a pain in the neck, sure, but you shouldn't be stuck for two months in the wrong country. Each country may do things differently, but one of the services your embassy/consulate should provide is assistance like this.

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I had a similar experience in Spain, but my time at the embassy was about 1hour. I had to answer a bunch of questions, but they had my passport photo on file. I didn't even have a backup ID. YMMV –  David Apr 16 '12 at 4:57
    
my parents had it happen in Spain as well. The drive to the consulate took longer than the paperwork there, a new permanent passport was couriered over to our residence there a few days later (it wasn't an emergency in that there was no time pressure for them to return home, they were living there semi-permanently). –  jwenting Jan 26 '13 at 7:13

Precautions:

  • Keep some spare cash, credit card, and ID separate from what you are carrying, if possible.
  • Carry a photocopy of your passport and other important documents with you, separate from the originals.
  • Leave copies of these important documents with a dependable friend or relative. (Mouviciel's idea of using dropbox is great.)
  • Register with your country's embassy/consulate so that they have your info.

What to do if it happens:

  1. Report the problem to your airline if you think you will miss your flight.
  2. Report to the police and get a police report.
  3. Visit your country's embassy or consulate and get help.

Anecdote

Something similar happened to me: I was mugged (jumped) and my passport, money, and other forms of ID were stolen. My backpack was stashed elsewhere, but unfortunately I hadn't left any of these valuable things in my backpack, since I didn't know whether that location was safe.

Losing not only my passport but also my money and ID revealed the problem that it is nearly impossible to get anything done with neither an ID nor any money! To get around this problem, my relative wired money (via Western Union) to someone I had met just a few days earlier in my travel (a trusted stranger).

The day after the mugging, I filed a report at a police station, and then went to the U.S. embassy with my sad story. I had a relative fax them a copy of the identification page of my passport. Based on this, the police report, and my rather convincing black eye, they issued me a temporary passport within a few hours for the usual fee of about $60 and passport photos taken immediately prior. This temporary passport had a validity of 1 year, and contained the restriction that, while it could be used for travel, it could not be used as proof of identity or citizenship.

I was traveling overland, so I didn't have any booked flights to deal with.

Amusingly, I later had this passport validated as proof of identity and extended to a full 10 years validity. You can imagine that I had to tell the whole story every time I crossed a border and the inspectors saw my ridiculous post-mugging photo.

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If you lose your passport while traveling, contact your nearest consulate immediately. They will usually be able to provide you with a temporary document that's at least good enough for you to travel back home. Getting a temporary passport might take relatively long compared to a short trip, but a few days at the worst, not the usual delay in getting a normal passport.

The delay may make you miss your flight home. Check your travel insurance (or even your regular insurance) to see if it will pay for the incurred cost.

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When preparing your flight, get all your documents scanned (passports, visas, e-tickets) and keep copies with you and people travelling with you. Leave the pdf files on the internet in a place where you will be able to reprint them abroad (a gmail account, or a dropbox directory for instance).

That way, getting new/emergency documents will be easier at your consulate.

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+1 for dropbox suggestion! –  nibot Apr 15 '12 at 16:23

This is going to vary depending on your country, the country where you lose your passport, and what you lose besides your passport. If your country has a consulate or embassy in the country you're in, you can go there in person and bring things to simplify the issuing of a replacement passport. For example, family members who still have their own passports and are vouching for you, other ID, and so on. This is one reason people suggest leaving your passport in the hotel room - separating your ID makes it less likely you will lose all of it at once.

If your country doesn't have consular services there, things get harder. Maybe it all has to be done by courier. I still think months is an overestimate though. Perhaps a week? And you will spend a LOT of money on rush fees and long distance phone calls.

The worst story I heard, 20+ years ago now, was from a South African. At that time there was little or no consular presence for South Africa outside the country - this was at the time of sanctions. The story was that her friend was in Australia and his South African passport expired. The Australians weren't going to deport him, but he couldn't get a new passport anywhere in Australia, couldn't leave to get one anywhere else, and he had to stay there for seven YEARS until he qualified for an Australian one. The woman who told me the story (in Canada) was explaining why she had to schedule an expensive trip home to renew her own passport because she didn't want to be stranded in Canada. I am still not sure if I believed it.

If you lose your passport (or it's taken from you), your first call should NOT be to the airline. Start with the police and then your embassy. Ask your embassy what to do about your tickets. Only if you discover the loss IN THE AIRPORT would I start with the airline.

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I am EXTREMELY skeptical that this story is completely true and that the person involved truly exhausted all other options.... I would really be curious to hear from someone who is an expert in this topic –  JoelFan Apr 16 '12 at 1:30
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one thing that comes to mind is the concept of an "interests section" in a 3rd country's diplomatic mission... Switzerland is a common 3rd country for this –  JoelFan Apr 16 '12 at 1:38

The information you have been given is not entirely accurate. The very first thing I would do (after canceling my credit cards, though) is contact a consulate from my own country. Don't start by canceling your return trip, with a bit of luck you might be able to get some travel documents quickly!

Depending on the situation, the consulate might either issue a new passport, an emergency passport or a laissez-passer (valid for a single journey back home). I know that my country issues passports in about a week and, occasionally, emergency passports (valid for only six months) on the spot in a couple of hours (I needed to pull their legs a little bit for that, they don't want people to abuse this possibility). Other countries might only offer a laissez-passer or require much longer to issue a passport so it's not possible to give a general rule here.

If the consulate is in the same city, things can go relatively well but if the relevant consulate is far away or even in another country, everything can become much more difficult. In any case, it's still the main thing to do.

The consulate could also let you know if it's necessary to complain to the police (generally it is but there are some countries in which contacting the police isn't generally recommended; in the Netherlands you should certainly do it) or reschedule your flight.

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Contact your country's closest embassy. Bring as much documentation about yourself as you can. They will issue a temporary travel document you can use in lieu of a passport.

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This doesn't necessarily cut it if your closest embassy is one or many countries away from the country you are in. Not every country has embassies or consulates in every other country. –  hippietrail Oct 16 '13 at 14:26
    
@hippietrail In fact, definitional issues aside, there is probably not a single country with a consulate in every other country in the world. But in most cases, there will be one consulate that's responsible for the place you are in and you should try to contact it, even if it's in another country. –  Relaxed Nov 29 '13 at 15:20
    
Which percentage of "most"? 99% or 51%? –  hippietrail Nov 30 '13 at 0:55

Precautions:

  • Have a copy of your passport (on the internet).
  • Carry separate spare cash or bank card.
  • Note down the contact details of the embassy/consulate.
  • Note down the account details to check in online for a boarding pass.

Residing in a Schengen country and lost your passport or had it stolen?

  1. contact the local police and have them file a crime report (even at night!)
  2. block bank/credit card(s) and phone if applicable
  3. contact the embassy/consulate and make an appointment to obtain (temporary) travel documents.

if that will take too long you might try:

  1. Have a copy of your passport (or ID card) and the crime report and head for the airport.
  2. Have the airliner contact the airport authorities at your destination and make the inquiry if you will be allowed back into the country on that copy.

This actually worked for me when I had to travel back from the UK to the Netherlands. Searching for the proper phone number of the correct airport authority was the hardest.

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When you say 'have a copy of your passport on the internet', it might be worth making clear it is not on the public internet, i.e. it should be on protected storage (at least on something like dropbox, google drive, ...) –  Vince Nov 29 '13 at 15:27

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