Lost Your Passport? Here’s How to Get a New One Quickly

We’ve broken down the stressful process with the steps to take, forms to fill out, and other important reminders.

Traveler at airport with backpack and open suitcase

Whether you’ve misplaced your passport while at home or on the road, these are the forms, processes, and resources you’ll need.

Photo by Rachaphak/Shutterstock

Losing your passport is a frightening and confusing experience. Whether you can’t locate that all-important blue book at home or have misplaced it while traveling in another country, the one consolation is that it’s possible to get another one quickly. And, speaking from personal experience, the process of replacing a lost passport can be inconvenient and stressful, but it works. Here’s what to do if you lose your passport.

Report your passport lost or stolen

The first thing you should do is report your lost or stolen passport so that it can be canceled. You can do this online, via phone, or by mail. Your passport is no longer valid as soon as it’s been reported lost or stolen, so canceling it online or by phone are the best options to prevent anyone else from using your passport immediately.

If you’re in the U.S.

Next, follow the standard application forms to apply for a new passport. If you’re in the United States, you’ll need to use Form DS-11, which is specific to missing passports. This must be done in person at a passport acceptance facility (including some post offices), where documents are processed and then mailed to a passport office. You can make an appointment online, but if you have travel plans within three weeks, it is better to go to a passport agency, which can handle the application on the spot or at least within a few days.

If you’re in a foreign country

You’re going to need to visit the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate, which might may require travel to a different city within that country (they’re typically in the capital or largest cities). There you’ll have to apply for and receive a new passport before you can return to the United States. You might be able to use a passport card if you’re entering by land from Canada and Mexico, but once you cancel your passport, your passport card will become invalidated, too.

When visiting the embassy, bring:

  • a passport photo
  • another form of government-issued identification (like a driver’s license)
  • proof of U.S. citizenship (like a photocopy of your passport)
  • your travel itinerary

Since this process will get delayed even further if you’ve also lost your government-issued identification, we recommend keeping photocopies of your documents somewhere else you access, such as on your phone or in your Google Drive.

Two forms must be completed for an in-person application overseas: DS-11 and DS-64. One of the forms includes a statement on the circumstances of how and where you lost your passport. If you believe your passport was stolen, it is helpful (although not necessary) to file a police report.

Replacement passports can be issued within a day or two if needed, but only during business hours (weekends and holidays may add extra wait time).

If you’re somewhere with an entry or exit visa

Make sure to consider any necessary visas that some countries require for entry and exit. Because they were issued in conjunction with the original passport, they will need to be reapplied for, which can add extra time and cost. You will need the replacement passport before you can apply for any necessary visas.

Important tips to remember when replacing a lost passport

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The one upside to losing a passport? You can get a new one quickly.

Photo by Shutterstock

Always have a photo or photocopy of your passport

It’s a smart move to make a copy of your passport (or snap a photo on your phone) and keep it separate from your passport book. It’s not possible to travel using a photocopy (or just your passport number if you have it memorized), but this information can help expedite the passport process for embassy officials if you’re overseas.

You won’t be able to use your original passport if you find it

If you find your original passport but it has already been canceled, it is no longer valid.

Your replacement passport is valid for 10 years—with some exceptions

When your new passport arrives, it should be valid for the standard 10 years unless you have lost your passport once before. In that case, your new one will only be valid for a year—and you won’t be eligible for a full-validity passport for another 10 years (assuming you don’t lose it again in that time period). That means you’ll have to reapply every year for 10 years—good incentive to keep your passport somewhere safe. If you were issued an emergency passport overseas, this may also be limited in validity. This means that within six months, you will have to apply for a new passport again and pay additional passport renewal fees ($130), but that new passport will be valid for the standard 10 years.

You can use your travel insurance to cover the cost of replacing your lost passport

Travel insurance can help cover the associated cost of getting a replacement passport (including flight change fees), but before you fork over for insurance, check to see if the credit card you used to pay for the trip includes similar benefits to reimburse any expenses.

If you have two valid U.S. passports, you can use the second one to get home

If you have two valid U.S. passports (yes, it’s possible to get a second passport), you will still need to apply for a new one to get home if you are traveling with only one. If you have both with you, then you can use the second one to get home. If you lose your passport in the United States, you can still use your other passport to travel while you apply for a replacement, because it has a different number.

You don’t need to reapply for Global Entry, but you do need to update your information

If you have Global Entry membership that was tied to your lost passport, you don’t need to reapply for the trusted traveler program. But once you have your new passport, you’ll need to log into the trusted traveler program website and enter your new passport number. The same is true with the Mobile Passport app, which will also require your new passport number.

Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.
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