Having your passport stolen can be downright scary, but fortunately, it’s a situation that can be quickly remedied. The following steps outline what to do if your passport is stolen, including tips on how to best protect yourself against identity theft abroad.
Step 1: Report It
The game plan for what to do if your passport is stolen begins by reporting the theft to the U.S. government. Do this immediately to decrease the opportunities for identity theft. Once your passport is reported stolen, it’s invalid and can’t be used for international travel.
Reporting your passport stolen involves sending a DS-64 form to the Department of State (DOS), which needs to be done by the time you’re ready to replace your passport. You can start the reporting process one of three ways:
- Go to the DOS website, check the box to enter the website’s passport section, and then click on the tab that reads “Report Lost or Stolen.”
- Mail the completed and signed Form DS-64 to the address listed on the form.
- Call the toll-free number: 1-877-487-2778 to report the theft, and then submit Form DS-64 with your application materials when you apply to replace your passport.
Filing a report with the local police department is another wise move to ensure you have an official record of the theft.
Step 2: Replace It
The steps for replacing your stolen passport vary, depending on if your passport was stolen while you were in the U.S. or while traveling abroad.
In the United States
If you’re scheduled to travel outside of the U.S. in two weeks or less, you need to visit a passport agency or center to receive expedited service. Expedited service using this route can take anywhere from eight business days to three weeks, depending on circumstances. Proof of travel is required, as is an additional fee for faster processing.
You can increase the processing speed even further by using a third-party agency, such as Swift, to replace your stolen passport. Processing times with Swift can be as little as one business day.
If you can wait up to six weeks for a replacement passport, you can visit a passport acceptance facility with your paperwork and fee for standard passport processing time.
Outside the United States
If your passport is stolen while you’re traveling abroad, you need to contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a passport replacement.
Since you’ll need to bring proof of U.S. citizenship and identification, it’s a good idea to make a photocopy of your passport to keep in a safe place while traveling. That way, you have a backup copy if the original is lost or stolen. Leave your backup copy with someone in the U.S. who can email or fax it to the embassy or consulate if needed.
Identity Theft Protection Tips
In addition to immediately reporting a stolen passport, a number of other tips can help deter identity theft while you’re abroad. These include:
- Protecting all electronic devices with passwords
- Reporting your travel plans to your credit card companies and bank
- Paying with credit cards instead of debit cards, as credit cards provide enhanced fraud protection
- Not traveling with unnecessary credit cards and documents, such as your Social Security card
- Monitoring your banking and credit card accounts daily
Now that you know what to do if your passport is stolen, you can see it’s not the end of the world, or even your travel plans. Feel free to contact Swift with any additional questions; we’re always glad to help!
Laurie Lee is co-founder and CEO of Swift Passport and Visa Services. A Chicago native, Laurie loves adventure travel, especially to the Caribbean. She enjoys writing for the Swift Post, as well as for her personal blog, Spare Parts- www.sparebodyparts.com.