When Did You Lose Your Passport?

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was Tuesday morning at 10AM. The sun shined above the horizon as we landed in Heathrow Airport. I didn’t sleep all night as I awaited my next flight to Liverpool. With dried tears on my cheeks, I was the last person in line at airport security. As this day was the beginning of my 23rd birthday, I was so ready to see my friends and family but none of them could come to stay with me.

I was alone and stranded for an entire weekend without them, something that would’ve never happened if I stayed put at my hotel. To purchase travel tickets when abroad is difficult enough, but it was even more of a challenge when I discovered my passport dropped right out of my bag before going to the airport.

I was in Barcelona, Spain and I went to the piazza as part of a festive celebration. Partying in Spain was a dream I had for many years, so I couldn’t turn down a few drinks and a dance with cute locals. Whether I’m at home or abroad, I’m usually responsible for making sure that my belongings are safe and secure.

This time I had no clue until I got to the airport several hours later. I walk up to security with confidence as I reached into my bag – missing! I freaked out and poured all of my contents onto the floor. At that moment, I felt like I lost my identity as I scraped through all of my contents.  

In this situation, it is important to not freak out and to report the lost passport immediately. When it happens, contact the local police department and file a report. Make sure to keep a copy of the report for your records – which is all good advice to give when someone have lost their passport at home.

However in my situation, I was trapped in a foreign country explaining my situation to airport security in a language that they can’t understand. Somewhere out there I knew there was an answer. I wanted to contact my family by phone and they could somehow send an emergency passport to me. Then again, what if I found the passport somewhere in the airport? Once the passport is reported missing, it will be made invalid and I’ll no longer be able to use it.

If people lose their passport whilst travel internationally, what would they do in this situation? I thought maybe I need to contact the local embassy or consulate to get a replacement. Unfortunately, my passport was missing after the embassy was closed on a Friday evening so that meant I had to wait in the airport until Monday morning to get a replacement.

It was a harrowing journey to get a new passport under those circumstances, believe me. On the upside, it taught me about the kindness of strangers, especially when you don’t know what to do when you lose your passport. It was a perfect way to learn how to swim whilst being thrown at the deep end.

When you lose your passport, there are some options depending upon the next plan to travel abroad. For a rush order, I visited the U.K embassy in person. Just as when you are home, you will need to bring a photo, proof of your identity and citizenship, a police report, and your travel itinerary. This rush option is for people who are traveling abroad within two weeks, which was perfect at the time.

When I finally went to the U.K embassy, I found out I needed to take a recent color headshot facing the camera. The embassy wanted to make sure the photo is two inches tall and two inches wide, my head had to be between 3-4 centimeters from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head. I know this sounds like way too many requirements, but the officer explained the photo has very specific requirements because it helps to identify you on your passport.

Also, I wasn’t prepared for the passport replacement fee, which I somehow didn’t have enough money to pay. A kind gentleman was nice enough to pay for me as I was about to cry hopelessly. I provided proof of my id with the police report and stated my travel itinerary with my past ticket purchase.

The embassy gave me the forms I needed to file to get a replacement passport. The wait at the embassy can be up to a couple hours, but I had to answer a number of questions that took forever. Replacing my passport took almost a day from start to finish.

If I had more time, I could’ve went to an authorized passport facility, such as a local post office, to get my replacement passport. It takes about four to six weeks to receive the new passport through an authorized facility, so you pay less money for the wait.

Replacing a lost or stolen passport is an inconvenience, but I tried not to beat myself up over it. I told myself that I wasn’t the first person, nor will I be the last person to have this happen to them. Fortunately, there is a well-detailed process to get a replacement no matter the circumstances. If anything, it gave me an interesting travel story to tell my friends and family when I eventually arrived home.

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