Travel Q&A: what to do if you lose your passport while travelling overseas

Here’s what to do if you lose your passport while travelling overseas.

Travel Q&A: what to do if you lose your passport while travelling overseas

Julie’s worried about what to do if she loses her passport while travelling. Lee Mylne offers some tips on how to handle this situation.

Q. Julie
I rarely travel overseas, but when I do, I’m constantly checking to see whether I have my passport on hand. It drives my partner mad. So I’d like to know, what is the process should I lose my passport while travelling? Do you have any tips for safe passport keeping?

A. You are not alone, Julie. Losing your passport is something every traveller worries about, and of course you are right – the best trick is to keep it safe and sound to start with. Your passport is your most valuable item when overseas…but never fear, all is not lost if the worst happens and there some steps you can take to minimise the pain.

Before you head overseas, make two photocopies of your passport (and any other important documents such as your travel insurance policy and itinerary). Take one with you – stored in a separate place to the originals – and leave the other copy with family or a friend, along with your birth certificate. If anything goes wrong, you will still be able to access all the details you need to provide to police or consular officials.

Take some extra passport photos with you too, which will make it easier to get a replacement while you're away.

While you are in transit and need to access your passport, keep it in your hand luggage or handbag and it should be quite safe. On arrival at your destination, if you are travelling on public transport, keep it in your bag but bury it deep. Never leave it in a bag that will be stowed in the luggage section of a bus or train – have it with you at all times.

If you are staying in a hotel that has an in-room safe, your best bet is to store it there when you don’t need it. It’s a much safer option than carrying it with you while you’re sightseeing or shopping. Just remember to take it out of the safe before you head to your next destination!

If your room doesn’t have a safe, lock it in your suitcase. If you prefer to keep it with you, invest in a good pouch or money belt – the kind that can be kept hidden under your clothes. However, don’t use this for the cash you need to access during the day, as it may alert any potential muggers. Putting your passport inside a plastic zip-lock bag is also a good idea, to protect it from potential water damage.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must report it to the local police as soon as possible. Take down the crime reference details, which you will need when you contact the Australian consulate or high commission to organise a replacement. If you need to travel soon after you’ve lost your passport, you can be issued an emergency passport, which is valid for up to 12 months.

You can access addresses and telephone numbers of Australian embassies, high commissions or consulates online at dfat.gov.au/missions (check this out before you leave and take the relevant numbers, just in case).

An emergency replacement passport will cost you $127, and then eventually you’ll have to apply for the normal five- or 10-year passport (another $127 or $254 respectively). There’s also a surcharge of $102 for adult passport applications lodged overseas. You will also have to attend an interview at the consulate or embassy.

It’s starting to sound like an expensive hassle, isn’t it? And it is – so please do your utmost to keep that precious document safe at all times. 

It’s also important to remember to check that your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of return to Australia and won’t expire while you are overseas.

For more information, go to www.passports.gov.au

Do you have a travel question for Lee? If so, email your Travel SOS to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au

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    has managed to combine her two passions – travelling and writing – into a long and successful career as a travel journalist. Her work is published in newspapers, magazines, websites and travel apps in Australia and around the world.





    COMMENTS

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    MICK
    25th Jun 2016
    9:53am
    Comforting words but when this happens in a third world country it can have impacts which are far more detrimental and harder to deal with than the article covers.
    My daughter was on a bus trip in Turkey 10 years ago and her passport and camera were stolen at Gallipoli from the locked bus. She had taken all of the precautions but getting a replacement passport took quite a long time and the main issue was accessing money. Without the passport she could not make a withdrawal from her own bank account and sending her money through Western Union was also impossible because they required ID before releasing funds. The embassy gave out a pittance so she was stuck in Turkey without money. Were it not for a fellow traveller who lent her a few hundred dollars (are there really still wonderful people in the world?) then I don't know what she would have done.
    Nice article. But when you get stuck in the wrong country it's different no matter what precautions you take.
    Anonymous
    25th Jun 2016
    5:19pm
    like father like daughter
    Tathra
    25th Jun 2016
    10:15am
    What I always did was photocopy the front page of my passport, also other important things like my medical details and drivers licence. Then I would keep them in separate places as I wore a money pouch I kept the originals in it but I also had copies in my suitcase and carry on bags plus anything else that I carried, even my camera bag because hopefully it would then find its way back to me if lost!
    Mez
    27th Jun 2016
    3:03pm
    Better to do all your snapshooting with your smartphone which I also have my email on it .....all compact and less luggage weight.
    Ellem
    25th Jun 2016
    10:15am
    A handy tip is to carry a photocopy of your passport and the visa page (if applicable). The passport is usually issued quickly but it does help to get the visa side of things done a bit quicker on a replacement passport if you have the details of the original visa.
    Aussie
    25th Jun 2016
    10:45pm
    YES YES Great idea I lost my passport in Europe and got an emergency one with 10 pages in Madrid and continue my travels no worries I always keep several copies in different palaces like one in each suitcase , my wallet and any other place I can have a copy like hand travel bag.
    And yes my drivers licence to is important to ID with Australian Embassies
    ozirules
    25th Jun 2016
    3:12pm
    I carry photocopies of important docs but I also scan them and send them to my email address.
    I then have a backup I can access through my Hotmail worldwide.
    Mez
    27th Jun 2016
    2:36pm
    Excellent advice!
    Plus itineries and anything else relevant.
    Stan
    25th Jun 2016
    3:16pm
    I feel the passport office should date your passport from when the one the old one expired not when you have to apply for a new one, I feel you get cheated out of six months sometimes.
    tiger
    25th Jun 2016
    3:16pm
    I travelled on the Trans Siberian Railway2004 from China to Helsinki only to loose my passport on the way to see a performance of Swan Lake Ballet at St. Petersburg, Russia. Next morning we were boarding a train to Helsinki, final stop. A phone call was made to Hotel Reception from local police at Mid-night they had my Passport, a frantic taxi ride loud banging on a large thick steel door opened by big Russian police smiling from ear to ear and handed over my Passport very wet and soggy, snow in Dec. inches thick. No passport I could not of left Russia with the Tour group. Imagine my relief.
    Mez
    27th Jun 2016
    2:42pm
    Hope your passport was not wet and soggy as it would not be recognized nor accepted.
    Hopefully noone else has copied your passport for identity theft because now all your personal details are digitalised like your credit cards so someone else may be walking around with your identity now.
    Best to also have scan blocking covers on these.
    tiger
    25th Jun 2016
    3:16pm
    I travelled on the Trans Siberian Railway2004 from China to Helsinki only to loose my passport on the way to see a performance of Swan Lake Ballet at St. Petersburg, Russia. Next morning we were boarding a train to Helsinki, final stop. A phone call was made to Hotel Reception from local police at Mid-night they had my Passport, a frantic taxi ride loud banging on a large thick steel door opened by big Russian police smiling from ear to ear and handed over my Passport very wet and soggy, snow in Dec. inches thick. No passport I could not of left Russia with the Tour group. Imagine my relief.
    Johnny
    27th Jun 2016
    12:33pm
    "keep it in your luggage or handbag and it should be quite safe....:|" No! The optimum word there is "QUITE". Muggers will cut the strap off a bag draped over your shoulder in a second. Especially in crowded streets and metro trains. Paris' metro is a mugger's feast. I swear by a pouch hidden under your clothes. And....I never use a hotel safe. Memory is a funny thing. It is so so easy to leave a hotel and leave it in the safe. I just don't use safes full stop. When you get dressed in the morning the passport pouch goes on first. Make it a steadfast rule.
    Mez
    27th Jun 2016
    2:47pm
    I have bought a German back pack which has special inbuilt locks and steel cables through the shoulder straps.
    Most pockets are on the inside or back of pack.
    Wonderful accidental discovery!
    Mez
    27th Jun 2016
    2:49pm
    Good advice Johnny!
    Mez
    27th Jun 2016
    2:45pm
    Highly recommend scan blocking covers for your digitalised personal details in your credit cards and passports as it is very easy for someone to walk near you and collect your cash and details for identity fraud which is on the rise.
    SuziJ
    19th Jan 2019
    12:43pm
    If you're taking your own photos, make sure that they've been taken within the last 6 months.


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