Imagine the following: your beautiful holiday abroad is coming to a close, it’s time to pack your things and head to the airport. As you carefully pack away your shiny new souvenirs, you remind yourself to do a final check for the essentials. Phone, check. Wallet, check. Passport…. Passport… ahhhh sh*t where is it! Eileen, help me! Is there a passport advice line I can call?
This is the exact situation I found myself in just a few short weeks ago on my way home from an amazing weekend in Morzine, France. While my fellow bloggers where commending me on how well I was maintaining my composure, I was barely keeping my cool. Spoiler alert, I did make it home in time for Christmas… with a very empty wallet! If you ever happen to find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you should know:
There is No Passport Advice Line to Call
While it may be tempting to pick up the phone and try to call your local consulate, check out their website instead. More often than not, you’ll need to use it to book an appointment to obtain an in-person emergency passport, and all of the documentation you need to fill out will also be there.
Be Prepared or Be Frazzled
Speaking of documentation, here’s a list of everything you need to have in hand before you set foot at the local consulate. Also, this part of the process is a bit archaic, but you must have printed copies of everything. Depending on where you lose your passport abroad, this can be tricky:
- DS 11 – Passport Application
- DS 64 – Lost or Stolen Passport
- A new passport photo at regulation size: The US embassy in Bern, Switzerland had a photo booth inside.
- Evidence of U.S. citizenship: A photocopy of the lost passport will do, this is about the only thing I did correctly!
- Travel itinerary: Sadly in my case I had already missed my flight!
- $140 USD passport replacement fee: Most consulates accept credit cards, or you can do the shameful collect call home to your parents.
What Not to Bring to the Consulate or Embassy
What I’m about to tell you sadly comes from personal experience. Prior to this whole lost passport debacle, I had never had the pleasure of paying an embassy a visit. Security is tight, and that list of items that cannot be brought inside of the embassy is no joke.
Be sure to only carry with you essential items needed to complete the appointment. Laptops and luggage will not be allowed into the building, so do not plan on heading straight to the airport from the embassy. Print ALL DOCUMENTS; mobile devices will not be allowed past a security checkpoint. I had to re-do all of the forms because I did not have access to a printer.
This “genius” finally has a new passport in hand! What a roller coaster ride the past twenty-four hours have been. @crookedflight thank you for sticking with me through this lost passport adventure, very lucky to have a friend like you. Oh, btw what a charming city you have @bernswitzerland – Jeanne
Close Your Eyes and Swipe that Plastic
Overall, I found the passport replacement process to be smooth and efficient. As an American citizen traveling through western Europe, my turnaround time for an emergency passport was just a few hours. It could have been much worse – I was planning to ship luggage internationally to lighten the load if I had to hop on a plane quickly. Or possibly stay longer in Switzerland too, paying premium for hotel!
Anyone who has ever found themselves in this situation knows that what may be appear to be easy on the surface has your wallet as the hidden victim. Luckily, the consulate charges the standard passport fees. However the planes, trains and automobiles required to obtain that shiny new booklet can really add up.
To soften the blow to my bank account, I kept reminding myself of the bright and shiny lights of the Dunkin Donuts kiosk just outside the international terminal at Logan Airport. I may or may not have been mumbling, ‘there’s no place like Boston’ as I boarded my flight home.
Have you ever lost your passport while abroad? What words of wisdom would you share?