Losing your passport is supremely stressful, and getting it replaced is neither convenient or easy. But there are steps you can take to get another one relatively quickly.
Once you’ve turned your home or hotel room upside down only to determine your passport’s gone forever, the first thing you should do is report it so it can be canceled. You can do this either by phone or online on the Department of State travel website. This is important because a canceled passport is no longer valid – meaning no one else can use it.
You’ll then need to apply for a replacement. In the U.S., you’ll use form DS-11 for lost or stolen passports, and it’s best if you do it in person at a passport acceptance facility. That way, the documents can be processed there and then mailed in for the replacement. If you have immediate travel plans (i.e. international travel planned within the next 14 days), you should go to a passport agency, where you can get your paperwork handled ASAP – potentially even immediately.
Already in a foreign country when your passport went missing? Don’t worry – you’re not stranded, but you may be delayed. Report the passport as missing, then find the local U.S. embassy or consulate, which, unfortunately, may be in another city. Take a passport photo, another form of government-issued identification (drivers license works), proof of U.S. citizenship (your photocopy of your passport that you bring with you all the time when you travel works), and your travel itinerary. It’s a good idea to have copies of all these things in Google docs or something similar. You will then fill out two forms: DS-11 and DS-64.
In a couple of business days, you should have your replacement. Then, you’ll have to reapply for any visas.
You could use travel insurance to recoup your expenses in getting a replacement, but check the credit card you travel with – they may be able to reimburse you as well.
Losing your passport is a big pain, so the best way to avoid the hassle of getting a new one is just to always keep it safe.
And be sure make copies of it to help you in case you need to jump through all these hoops.