6 Things to Do When You Lose Your Passport In a Foreign Country

Number zero is don't panic

6 Things to Do When You Lose Your Passport In a Foreign Country

I fell for it. The whole struggling mom needs a hand at an airport in Cusco ruse. The ones your grandparents hear about on dateline & while they are telling you over Thanksgiving dinner you’re silently thinking “I’m not stupid enough to fall for that.

I did. I was. Blah, blah, blah [insert joke here].

This is the moment when I first had the vision of having to swallow cocaine and smuggle it across the boarder to get back into the US of A, Narcos style.

My overactive imagination was wrong & quite frankly all the hullabaloo you see on TV when someone looses their passport isn't the case (really). I know it's hard to imagine - but before you get to any of the 6 steps don't panic. It's not worth it, and it's no reason to put a damper on your vacation.

Take these notes from a girl who has been to the land of lost passports & back.

  1. Hopefully before you left you printed a copy of your passport (thank you for the lesson mamacita). If you didn’t hopefully you have a copy of it on your Google Drive or somewhere else - or another human being has a copy. This will make your life a thousand times easier. If you travel a lot and you don’t have it can you do me a favor? From one klutz to another? Put down the phone, dig out your damn passport, and take a picture then keep it on your cloud with the selfies you like of yourself and want to send out when you need stock photography for Bumble dates.
  2. Secondly - get a police report from the tourism police - like right away. In Peru they were incredibly friendly. I cried - they laughed. Then I was on my way. You’re going to need this paper in literally like a thousand places. You might as well staple it to your chest. It will be how you get on an airplane to the city that has a US embassy, customs, and other airport lines. The report is going to state your name, what happened and the location of the theft.
  3. Get money somehow - if you didn’t lose your whole damn wallet as I did skip to #4. If you did - hopefully you have friends or family who will be willing to wire money to you pronto.
  4. Get to a city that has an embassy. I lost my passport in Cusco, a city in Peru that (of course) didn't have an embassy. You will be able to get on one flight with your note from tourism police that you've lost your passport. For me it was Cusco to Lima, the airport workers are typically understanding of the situation even though they see it infrequently. Make sure with 100% certainty that you get to a city with an embassy. Otherwise well, you're hitchhiking to said city.
  5. Be aware that Embassies aren’t Dunkin Donuts. Despite the fact that they are functioning for the United States and we are used to 24/7 access to a ton of things and at the very least 9-5 access to most things. Embassies don’t. They only do emergency passports (which is what you’ll need if you don’t want to miss your flight or be stuck in the country for 17 days) certain days of the week for certain hours.In Peru, for example, it was Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8-11. Which isn’t a very long window once you have to stand outside in line until you’re basically Benjamin Button.
  6. Make friends fast in your new city - and hopefully, it’s somewhere exciting to explore - because chances are you’re going to be there for at least an additional week.

Also sidenote: your emergency passport is going to look a little different - so get comfortable explaining the story because every TSA agent & their dog is going to ask you about it. And it's only good for a year, so refile that thing ASAP!

If you’re lost in a foreign country with no passport hit me up on the gram @lizkrupka - I’ll chat you through it!

And if you just need some good stories - I can usually conjure up a few.

travel advice
Elizabeth Krupka
Elizabeth Krupka
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Elizabeth Krupka

See all posts by Elizabeth Krupka