My passport was stolen and because of the holidays in December (Christmas and New Years) there were no open appointments to get emergency flying papers from the US embassy. Is there any way the flight will let me board? Once on American soil, in the airport, I can show my birth certificate, drivers license and veterans ID card. Will this work for getting me home?
Just go to the nearest US embassy or consulate on a working day (i.e. Monday to Friday, not the 25th of December, not January 1st) with the police declaration/report and evidence of your flight date. They should be able to issue a temporary emergency passport the same day or the next business day.
Appointments are usually not required for emergency passports.
Details (such as working days/holidays, or local procedures) may vary depending on the country you are in.
I've had this happen to me back in 2016. It was my first time traveling overseas as a photographer and I was stranded in London (my credit card got sucked up by the ATM at one of the train stations, my only one, so I was left without money.)
Basically, with the little bit of money I had left in my pockets, I made my way to the US Embassy. I walked up to the gates and one of the guards will ask something like "What's your business?"
- Explain to them you've been stranded. They will likely ask for ID, a passport and driver's license to confirm you're a US citizen. They'll run a background check before letting you in.
- Once in, they'll have you pass your luggage or anything you have on you through a conveyor belt/scanner to assure you don't have anything dangerous on you. Then they'll guide you to the main lobby and into another room where there's a waiting line (with lots of seating available). You'll approach a ticket booth looking window and they'll ask what you need help with. Explain you've been stranded and you need to get home.
- They will have you sign some paperwork and they'll begin looking for flights for you to get you back home. They will give you a loan called a Repatriation Loan (which is a Federal Loan that accrues interest over time, but you can pay it back as soon as you get home. If you don't pay it back or make the effort, they will take it out of your income tax at the end of the year).
- Other than that, that's really it. The process at the embassy is a bit slow depending on how busy it gets. I was in there for at least 7 hours easily, but couldn't be more thankful for having them as a last resort to help me get back home. They planned out all the flights for me and they even gave me some extra cash for the night to stay at a hostel and some food, since my flight was for the morning.
Whenever you're going to a foreign country, make sure there's a US Embassy there before flying there. This is something I'll always keep in mind for when I travel as a photographer, because they're your last resort if you don't have anyone who can wire you money.
Also, download money transfer apps that wire money to you quickly (such as Venmo, Xoom, etc.) This is a must. This is a backup way for friends to wire you money in a matter of seconds through a mobile app in case something bad happens. Also make sure to add your credit card into a mobile payment format such as with Google Pay and Apple Pay (as some places like the subways allow your phone to act as a form of payment as well as small markets and stores). This helped me buy food when I didn't have my credit card on me.
Hope this information helps! You're definitely not alone in your experience. Overall, this was actually a good experience for me, because knowing what to do when you're in this worst case scenario prepares you really well for the next time you travel.
Note: In my case, I had my passport still. They stamped it and was able to use it to get back to the US. It will be stamped with something that reads:
"THIS PASSPORT IS ONLY VALID FOR RETURN/TRANSIT TO UNITED STATES BEFORE (00/00/2019 or whatever date this happened) UNDER 22 CFR 51.60 (C)(2)"
This conveys to the airline that it will only be permitted in allowing you to get back home. You can then apply for a new passport when you're back in the US, but likely only after you've paid off the Repatriation Loan. Since you lost your passport, the US Embassy will help you.
In your case, you must ask to speak to the Consular Section to report your passport lost or stolen. If you have been the victim of a serious crime, be sure to tell a consular officer about it as soon as possible so we can provide appropriate assistance.
If you are scheduled to leave the foreign country shortly, please provide our consular staff with the details of your travel. They'll make every effort to assist you quickly. You will also be directed to where you can obtain a photo for your replacement passport. In most cases, you will need to get a passport photo prior to your arrival at the consular section.
This happened to my boyfriend while we were in Egypt. Unfortunatley, they won't let you board - you must have a passport. He is a EU citizen, and was able to get an emergency one in about two or three days.
You should be calling the Embassy as soon as it re-opens. I just read that on holidays the US Embassies are only open for life and death situations, so that's kind of a bummer for you. It sounds like you'll need to make new travel plans.