What to do if you lost your passport abroad?


It’s the worst feeling in the world, searching in your pockets for your passport and it’s not there. The bottom has fallen out of your world as you rifle frantically but to no avail.

Whether lost or stolen, not having your passport, national ID, driver’s license or credit cards when abroad can feel like a disaster. The feeling of vulnerability can be heightened by the feeling of “foreignness” of things. Not speaking the local language or not knowing where to go can be extra sources of stress. Thankfully any of these losses can be dealt with in a relatively painless and easy way.

Lost or stolen passport – what should I do first?

When you finally give up, after searching all your things for the tenth time, and admit defeat, it’s time for action. What to do first? The loss of any international documents such as a passport, national identity card, or international driver’s license should be immediately reported to the local police service.

You should go to your nearest police station and report your loss. If possible, always keep a photo or scan of these items on your phone or in an easily accessible location, like in your email or in a private storage area on the internet. Any copies will help and make life easier for all those involved.

To replace your national identity card or passport you will need to address yourself to your nearest embassy or consulate:

When you produce your stolen-item police report the embassy or consulate will be able to issue you with an emergency replacement passport that will let you finish your trip and return home. Again, having a digital copy of your passport here will be of great use.

If you lose your driver’s license abroad, you should report it to the police. Check the European Union website for more country-specific details, UK or Eire. US and Canadian citizens should contact their relevant Department of Motor Vehicles or equivalent.

Before you go

It is always recommended to keep a copy of any identity documents such as passport, national ID, or driver’s license in an easy to access location. Mobile phones are generally a good secure location, or you may prefer to keep them online in your email or secure cloud service.

Stolen bank cards

If you are unfortunate enough to have lost your cards the first thing to do is to contact your bank to cancel them. Prompt cancellations can protect cardholders from potential fraud so always keep your bank’s phone number handy as a contact on your phone. Similarly, keep your card numbers somewhere easily accessible. Different issuers have different stipulations regarding which information is needed to cancel a card from abroad, ideally having a photo or scan or your cards is best.

Generally, banks will not send replacement debit or credit cards to other countries. If you find yourself in dire need of cash, we recommend using a well known reputable money transfer company such as Western Union or MoneyGram. While this will incur a cost, it has the advantage of being quick and usually easy to locate, depending on where you are holidaying.

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