What do I do if I lose my passport?

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 [email protected]

Written by Lee Mylne

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