My passport was stolen in December 2020. There is no US Embassy in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The nearest embassy is in the Bahamas. There is a US Consulate, but it has been closed since 2019. But the Bahamas is a different country, and I cannot travel to the Bahamas. The embassy in the Bahamas told me to take the police report, copy of my stolen passport and go to the airport, and the airline would call (someone) to get permission to let me on the plane. That did not work. American Airlines told me that Customs and Border Protection would not allow me to board. I called the CBP, and they referred me to the State Dept, who referred me to TSA. No one will help. Any suggestions? I have been in the Turks and Caicos for seven months, waiting for the Consulate to reopen. I must get home.

Any suggestions?

  • 2
    I suppose you have tried to contact them via the listed phone numbers and e-mail? I'm surprised they haven't arranged some form of emergency procedure for this situation.
    – jcaron
    Jun 21, 2021 at 14:34
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    After you attempted to fly, did you call back the embassy in the Bahamas and explain what had happened? Did they offer any further suggestions, and what happened when you tried them? Jun 21, 2021 at 14:49
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    I am not sure if it is too obvious, but the US consulate information page states that while the consulate in Providenciales is temporarily closed, a consular officer will by appointment on a monthly basis come to Providenciales to offer consular services. Have you tried to arrange for such a meeting? bs.usembassy.gov/… Jun 21, 2021 at 14:58
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    The best way is just to keep following up with this. Call the Bahamas consulate frequently and tell them what you are doing and what is happening. Jun 21, 2021 at 16:34
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    If you can get someone to take you by boat you ought to be able to enter the US without a passport. However, I don't imagine it will be much easier to talk someone with a boat into taking you to the US without a passport than it was with the airlines. Also, anyone who referred you to the TSA either wasn't paying attention to what you were saying or does not know what they're talking about. I therefore concur that you should be persistent with the State Department. It is the State Department's responsibility, through its consular service, to provide you with a document to get to the US.
    – phoog
    Jun 21, 2021 at 21:20

3 Answers 3


You need an emergency travel document. The people who should be getting you this are the American Consulate, and since there isn't one in Turks and Caicos, the Bahamian one should be responsible.

You seem to have taken a very relaxed attitude to this situation. When the action recommended by the Bahamas consulate didn't work, you should have immediately called them again, not waited seven months for a reopening that clearly won't happen. If you didn't do that, they will have assumed you got home successfully or don't really need to leave. Even now, if you don't call them frequently, they will assume that you are content with the current situation. They won't do anything unless you ask them.

You should call the Bahamas consulate every day or two until you get a resolution. Tell them it is urgent (although they may be skeptical since you seem to have been OK staying in the Turks and Caicos for seven months). Don't bother calling airlines, CBP, State department or TSA (unless the consulate tells you to).

Anything else you try, like trying to sneak into the Bahamas, is likely to be illegal and have repercussions down the road. However an option you could try is to apply for a replacement passport in the regular way and have it mailed to a friend in the US (they won't mail it abroad). Then have the friend bring it to you in the Turks and Caicos. This is likely to be tricky in times of Covid, but should be manageable.

Be aware that if you don't apply for a replacement passport soon, you may find that you have to apply for a new passport rather than a replacement, which will be harder.

  • If the time limit is the same as renewal (page doesn’t say), I think seven months is too late.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 22, 2021 at 15:55
  • @WGroleau the time limit is 15 years after the previous passport was issued, so five years after expiration.
    – phoog
    Jun 22, 2021 at 21:28
  • @WGroleau but he will have to use the new passport application (DS-11) in any event because the renewal application (DS-82) requires sending in the previous passport. So it will be equally difficult no matter how long he waits.
    – phoog
    Jun 23, 2021 at 0:13
  • Having the a friend in the US bringing the replacement passport to the OP, requires that friend to travel with a passport that doesn't belong to him. That should be possible, but if that friend for any reason is subjected to some form of extended security, he should be prepared to answer questions about why. Jun 25, 2021 at 9:54

Here is a somewhat radical solution, and it might be pricy, but it will be fun. All you need to do is find a fellow American citizen in Turks and Caicos who has a boat.

Pay him to drop you off in the nearest US jurisdiction, which is the western coast of Puerto Rico. It will be a day’s travel each way by powerboat, four days by sail, which is why it will be expensive. Moor in some backwater like Rincon or Playa Buyé. Take a cab to Mayagüez and fly home.

Nobody will question an American-accented white person about his citizenship and of course, there are no passport checks on domestic flights. Technically, you are not even breaking the law, since you have the legal right to enter the US.

(Actually, re-reading the law, it may be technically illegal, but reality is, they are never going to check. If they ask you any questions, just don’t answer them.

  • 2
    Why not moor and then call CBP to make this actually legal? We try not to give out illegal advice on Stack Exchange.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 22, 2021 at 18:21
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    @Malvolio you would call CBP on arrival to have your boat inspected by customs and immigration, just like any other arrival. No need to sneak into the country by clandestine means.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 23, 2021 at 19:34
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    @Malvolio if you pass inspection, no laws are violated. If you don't... I don't see what CBP could possibly do. Deport you? Where? Worst case you go in front of an immigration judge, show whatever evidence of US citizenship that you have and he lets you go.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 23, 2021 at 19:54
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    @JonathanReez — they would issue an order to the captain to leave US waters, with you aboard. If he refused, they would impound the vessel. And it don’t think that a rule as foolish as “do not violate any law” is a core tenet of this website, or should be. You think travelers to Hong Kong should report dissidents to the police? Visitors to Bangkok should report anyone who steps on a 100 baht note? Jun 23, 2021 at 22:06
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    @Malvolio see 19 CFR 4.2. The captain must report all passengers; the report must include a passport number. The penalty for the first violation is up to $5000. On top of that, who is going to be easier to convince that the passenger is a US citizen: CBP or the guy with the boat? If someone approached me and said "take me to PR, I'm a US citizen but I don't have my passport," I wouldn't touch it with the proverbial ten-foot pole: I don't have access to the US passport database and don't want to be liable for improper transportation of an alien.
    – phoog
    Jun 23, 2021 at 23:12

you should go to the U.S. Consular Agency located at the Regent Village in Grace Bay, and within easy walking distance of many resorts.



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