Every traveler’s most frightening question: What Do You Do When You Lose Your Passport? Well, besides crying your eyes out and totally freaking out?
Unfortunately, I now have firsthand experience with this traveling nightmare! When we stepped off the escalator to collect our bags in Carnival Cruise Lines baggage claim last week, I turned around and told Angeline to get her passport out before we got to customs.
She had a blank look on her face, like what passport? And my heart stopped.
I knew that look. That was the look my daughter has given me everything she’s lost or broken something valuable.
By the time we found our luggage, I was in full blown panic mode. I was on the verge of hysterics, to tell you the truth. Firstly, I was afraid that customs wouldn’t allow Angeline to pass through since we had NO identification for her! And secondly, I was already thinking ahead to our European cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines in exactly 16 days, when we would need to present Angeline’s passport to board our flight to Barcelona.
I was in a panic. Chris asked one of the employees if we could get back on the ship to look for it, but they wouldn’t allow us to reboard. They called someone on the ship to look, but they called back and said that they didn’t find it. Now, Angeline said that she left it on the bathroom counter, but there’s no telling where it really was. I frantically went from employee to employee begging to be let back on the ship so that I could look under the bed, in the covers, behind the bed, etc, etc – knowing that it probably fell somewhere and that’s why the stewards hadn’t found it.
But there was nothing I could do.
With my heart pounding in my chest, we went to customs and presented our forms and I explained that Angeline had lost her passport on the ship and we had no other identification for her. Luckily, it’s pretty obvious that we’re related, and I suppose the agent was feeling generous that morning, because he allowed her off the ship.
Cue a big sigh of relief from me!
That solved our immediate issue, but there was a much larger issue at hand: how was I going to get Angeline on her flight to Barcelona in 16 days without her passport? I immediately began Googling What Do You Do When You Lose Your Passport? to find out how quickly I could get her a replacement passport.
What Do You Do When You Lose Your Passport?
Report Your Passport Lost
The first thing you need to do is to report your passport lost or stolen. You can do this by calling the Dept of State at 1-877-487-2778 (TTY 1-888-874-7793) Monday through Friday, 8 am to 10 pm.
If you are reporting a lost passport for a minor under the age of 16, you’ll have to do this in person at a passport agency by filing form Form DS-64: Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen.
If you’re overseas when you lose your passport – or if it’s stolen – contact the local US Embassy ASAP! You can find a list here to find the closest one near you.
Apply For A New Passport
Once you’ve reported your passport lost, you will need to apply for a brand new passport – the Dept of State doesn’t reissue your current passport, they assign you a completely new number.
You can find the US Passport Application at Travel.State.Gov.
If You Need A New Passport in a Rush
If you need your passport in a rush, as we did, you have two options.
Your first option is to apply for a new passport at your local passport acceptance agency (ours was in the courthouse) and pay for expedited processing and overnight shipping. This costs about $152 for the application and overnight delivery fee and $25 for the passport processing through the local agency. When we applied for Angeline’s original passport in May, we received it in 10 business days.
Your second option is to make an appointment with your local passport agency – the actual passport office itself, not a processing center at the courthouse – which you can do by calling 1-877-487-2778. You can only make an appointment with this agency if your travel date is within 14 days.
Unfortunately, because Chris and I were leaving the next business day for NC, and Angeline was leaving the same day for two weeks in Georgia with her cousins, and both trips were already paid for – we couldn’t wait around to meet the deadline necessary to make this appointment. Things would have been SO MUCH EASIER if we were!
COVER YOUR BASES!
Now, we were in a very tricky situation. When I called and spoke with the department of state, they told me that while it ordinarily took 10 business days to receive a new passport with the rush processing, it should only take between 5 and 7 days because Angeline’s information was already in the system, seeing as how her passport had just been issued four weeks prior.
If Angeline’s new passport arrived within the same 10 business day time frame that her original did, that meant we would get her new passport the DAY BEFORE we left for Barcelona. And while the agency also told me that it shouldn’t take longer than 7 days because her information was already in the system, obviously we couldn’t count on that, because with the 4th of July falling in that time frame, I realized it would probably take longer to process than her original passport. If we waited to see if her new passport arrived that Monday, we would have no chance of getting a new passport at the agency itself should it not arrive.
So I ordered copies of her birth certificate and her father’s death certificate so that, in the event her passport not arrive prior to Monday the 15th, we could go down to the agency and apply for a rush passport the same day.
So now I wait, on pins and needles, to find out if this will all work out. If worse comes to worst and we aren’t able to get Angeline’s passport replaced in time for her to board our flight on July 16th, I can either change our flights – to the tune of about $3500 or she won’t be able to go with me.
I don’t have $3500, so that only leaves her not going with me.
Wish me luck…