What to do if Your Passport is Stolen Overseas
Carol and I were with a group of friends enjoying a wonderful dinner at a restaurant in Rome, Italy. While Carol was enjoying the merriment of the evening, a thief stole her purse and subsequently her passport.
We were up until the wee hours of the morning taking care of this mess. First, hours spent in an Italian police station, and then additional hours spent calling our credit card companies. And then, we spent many hours the next day at the U.S. Embassy getting Carol a new passport so that she might be able to come home.
What a mess!
Travel Tips for a Stolen Passport Overseas
- Protect your passport – this goes without saying, but not having a passport overseas is nothing but trouble. You’re likely going to be unable to check into a hotel, and you’re certainly not going to board an airplane without a passport. Protect your passport at all costs.
- Copy your passport – because Carol’s purse was stolen, she had absolutely no identification. This was a real problem. Make a photocopy of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, and important documents and keep them in a separate place from the originals. If you are out sightseeing for the day, you might consider leaving your passport in the hotel safe and traveling with a copy of your passport instead of the original.
- Report the theft – unfortunately, a stolen passport means that you will be spending time with the local police department to record the theft. In our case, we spent nearly four hours in a Rome police department while we waded through Italian language forms and trying to communicate with officers that didn’t speak our language. Not fun!
- Visit the American Embassy – if your passport is stolen overseas, your only recourse to obtain a new passport is to visit the American Embassy. We were required to provide them with a copy of the police report, and I (David) had to sign a document verifying that Carol was indeed my wife and that she was a U.S. citizen. We spent nearly a whole day getting to the American Embassy and enduring the process of obtaining a new passport for Carol. ACK! Link: U.S. Embassies Around the World
This happened to us nearly a decade ago, and as you can imagine, we had to learn these lessons the hard way.
As I mentioned above, protect your valuable documents at all costs. Sadly, our world is full of thieves who pray on the unaware in the world’s top tourist destinations. Should this happen to you, take a deep breath and make a visit to your U.S. Embassy. They will get you back to enjoying your vacation.