Lose Your Passport? Here’s What to Do!

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Losing your passport can be a terrible feeling and cause a real headache!  So I’ve written a step-by-step guide to show you what to do if your passport is lost or stolen.

Lost Passport
Losing Your Passport Can Be a Real Bummer. But I’ll Show You How to Get a Replacement, So You’ll Be Ready for Your Next Adventure!

Whether you’re in the US or abroad, here’s how to get a replacement passport.

What to Do About a Lost Passport

According to the US Department of State, the most important thing to do when you realize your passport is gone is to report it.

Whether it’s lost or stolen, it’s important to report it to protect yourself from identity theft.  But if it was lost due to theft, file a police report.

After it’s been reported, you can go through the process of getting a replacement.  This chart from the US Department of State’s website explains what steps you should take depending on whether you’re inside or outside the US and how soon you plan to travel:

Lost Passport
Lost Your Passport While Traveling Outside the US? You’ll Need to Contact the Nearest US Embassy or Consulate for a Replacement

Here’s how to get a new passport.

Step 1.   Report Your Lost Passport

You can report a lost or stolen passport:

  • Online
  • By calling 1-877-487-2778
  • By completing, signing, and mailing Form DS-64 to the address on the form

If you prefer to fill out the form online, go to the US Department of State’s online passport application page, and select the “Report Lost or Stolen” option.

Lost Passport
You Can Report Your Lost or Stolen Passport Online, by Phone, or by Mail, If You’re In the US

Regardless of how you report it, you’ll be asked for personal identification information (name, date of birth, address, etc.), passport information, and information regarding how and where your passport was lost or stolen.

I went through the online reporting process and it took me ~5 minutes.

That said, once it’s reported as lost or stolen, it’s invalid and can NOT be used for travel.  So if you think you may have just misplaced it, be sure to double (and triple!) check before reporting it.  Because replacing it can be expensive and time-consuming.

Step 2.   Replace Your Lost Passport

If You’re In the US

To replace a lost or stolen passport, you must submit Form DS-11 (the same form used when applying for a passport for the first time) IN PERSON at a qualified location (like a Passport Agency) along with:

  • Proof of US Citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
  • A color passport photo
  • Any applicable fees

You can NOT submit this form online or by mail.

Lost Passport
You’ll Have to Sign, Date, and Submit the DS-11 Form In-Person at Your Local Passport Agency

If you’re in a rush to get it, you’ll have to pay an expedited processing fee.  Because the Passport Processing Agency estimates it takes 4 to 5 weeks to process an application.

In my experience, they’ve been fast.  But sometimes they’re incredibly slow.  So I suggest getting your replacement application in as quickly as possible.  Because you never know when an opportunity to travel might pop up. 😉

If You’re Abroad

If you’re traveling overseas and lose your passport, you need to contact the closest US embassy or consulate to apply for a replacement.

To get a new passport, you’ll need:

  • A passport photo
  • Identification (like a driver’s license)
  • Proof of US citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Travel itinerary (like airline tickets)
  • Police report (if available)

In the same way you would if you were in the US, you’ll have to fill out, sign, and date the DS-64 and DS-11 forms.  And pay any applicable fees.

You can check-out the US Department of State’s “Frequently Asked Questions” section here for more information about what do you when you lose our passport overseas.

Step 3.  Update Any Frequent Traveler Benefit Information

Do you have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck?  Once you receive your replacement passport, you’ll need to update your membership with your new passport information.

This is an important step, because you won’t be able to use these benefits to save time at the airport if your passport number isn’t correct.

First-Hand Account of a Lost Passport

Million Mile Secrets team member Jesse recently lost his passport.

He usually carries his driver’s license and passport for a backup ID, even when flying domestically.  He was flying from Portland to Sacramento to visit his girlfriend.  And at some point, lost track of his passport.

He admits he can be forgetful, so he wasn’t that surprised when he couldn’t find it in his bedside table where he typically stores it.  But he tore his entire house apart looking for it.  And his girlfriend searched her apartment too.

Lost Passport
This Isn’t Actually Million Mile Secrets Team Member Jesse. But It Could Have Been When He Was Searching Desperately for His Lost Passport!

After doing a Google search about what to do when you lose your passport, the process seemed intimidating.  So he decided to wait and see if it might turn up.  Plus, he didn’t want to affect his TSA PreCheck status by reporting it missing, because he had a couple of flights coming up.

After a while, he realized it was time to figure out how to get a replacement passport.

He filled out the DS-64 form, like I mentioned above, and went to his local passport acceptance facility to submit the DS-11 form.  He also had to pay the $135 fee ($110 application fee + $25 execution fee).

Fortunately, he wasn’t in a rush to get a replacement.  So he didn’t have to pay to expedite his new passport.  But it was an inconvenience having to apply in-person.

Once he got his new passport, he went through his Global Entry and TSA PreCheck accounts and changed his passport number, and everything auto-updated with the airlines.

Bottom Line

When your passport is lost or stolen and you’re within the US, the first step is to report it to the US Department of State online, by phone, or by mail.

Once you’ve reported it, you can apply for a new passport in-person at your local passport agency using form DS-11.  You’ll have to pay a $135 fee (more if you need it expedited!), and you’ll need proof of US citizenship and a passport photo.

If you’re overseas and your passport is lost, you must contact the nearest US embassy or consulate to apply for a replacement passport.  Otherwise, the process is essentially the same as if you were in the US, and you’ll have to fill out the DS-11 form and pay any applicable fees.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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