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What to Do If You Lose Your Passport?

When you lose your passport, international travel may become a bit of a nonstarter. Even if that means you're stuck in a foreign country.

Case in point: Pop star Chris Brown was stuck stateside and couldn't make it to a New Year's Eve gig he'd booked in the Philippines because he lost his passport. The Associated Press reports that Brown lost his passport the "day before the scheduled event." Bummer.

What should you do if you lose your passport?

Lost Passport While in the United States

You may not have the entourage or the financial resources that Chris Brown does, but if you're stuck in the United States without your passport, the fix is the about the same:

  • Report your passport lost or stolen. The first thing you need to do if your passport is lost or stolen is to report it by calling the U.S. Department of State at (877) 487-2778. This will invalidate your current passport and protect you from potential identity theft.
  • Fill out a lost/stolen passport form. The DS-64 form will ask how you lost your passport and when it happened.
  • Apply for a new passport. Unfortunately, losing a passport means having to apply for a new one. This includes getting passport-sized photos, getting proof of citizenship, and going in person to a passport agency or center to submit it.

Depending on how soon you need to leave the United States, you may qualify for expedited processing of your passport, but it will probably cost more. The State Department estimates four to six weeks for a "routine" application to be processed.

Lost Passport While Abroad

Losing a passport while abroad might be a bit more harrowing, since you generally need your passport to re-enter the United States. However, the process for replacing your passport in another country is fairly similar to losing it stateside:

  • Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. There are U.S. embassies in nearly every country that Americans are likely to visit. Contact the nearest one and proceed from there.
  • Get a replacement passport. Given impending travel plans back to the United States, a U.S. embassy should be able to provide you with a replacement passport in time for your flight. You'll still have to file the same forms, provide citizenship info, and pay fees for the new passport, though.

If you know a loved one who lost a passport while overseas, you can get them in contact with an embassy by calling (888) 407-4747.

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