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What to do if you lose your passport

What to do if you lose your passport

Your passport is your ticket in and out of a country; it’s the most important item on your packing list. But do you know what you would do if you lost it overseas?

While losing a passport on holiday can be a (very) stressful experience there are things you can do to help you sort out the situation without creating a drama. Here are some simple steps to take before you even leave home and advice on how to deal with a lost passport overseas.

Before you travel

  • Take a picture of your passport on your mobile phone, or alternatively for some extra security, download the KeepSafe app, which stores images securely on your phone.
  • Make 2 colour photocopies of your passport. Pop one in your luggage and leave one copy with family or friends at home. If you have any current, spare passport photos at home, take them with you.
  • Have the address of the local Australian embassies and consulates to hand (on paper and on your phone).
  • Take out an international travel insurance policy and make sure that it covers the cost of a replacement passport, which can add up to a few hundred dollars.
  • Install the Smart Traveller app on your mobile. This app allows you to register your trip details with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, making it easy for them to contact you in case of an emergency.  

While you are overseas

Once on your way, try to keep your passport with you at all times, only taking it out of your bag when you have to. When you arrive at your destination lock your passport away in the hotel safe or somewhere secure in your room.

If you’re travelling around while you’re on your trip don’t leave your passport in luggage that you’re going to be separated from, such as a bag that will be stowed underneath a coach, or suitcase that will be left in the luggage section of a train.  

I’ve lost my passport what do I do now?

Solo traveler, Jess Dwyer from Queensland, recently found herself without a passport in Spain after having her bag stolen while she was sat in a café one afternoon. “I lost everything – cards, passport and money. As soon as I realised what had happened I went straight to the local police, I was then told to go to the nearest Australian Consulate."

If you’re facing a similar situation here are the next steps that you will need to take:

  • Before you report it as missing, make a thorough search. Once it's reported as lost you won’t be able to use it for travel again, so be sure that it’s really gone.
  • If you lose your passport while overseas it’s a legal requirement that you report it as soon as you realise it’s missing. So notify the local police to get a police report and get in touch with your nearest Australian embassy. This can either be done online or in person if there is one nearby. Or alternatively call the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232 – remember you’ll have to use the international dialing code for Australia when you call.
  • Replacing your lost passport will cost you, and you should be prepared to pay the normal application fee of $250 plus an overseas surcharge fee of $100. You will be expected to pay the equivalent amount in the local currency.
  • You’ll then need to go through the process of completing a new application form and attending an interview at your nearest embassy.

Once you have lodged your application it can take anywhere from 48 hours to 3 weeks for you to get a new passport. Obviously this can majorly impact travel plans and flight schedules.

How quickly you receive it depends on whether you can get to an embassy in person or if you are doing it by mail, the country you are travelling in, current processing times and if you have been able to pay for priority processing. For more information visit the Passport Services website.  

Even the most experienced travelers can be unlucky enough to lose their passports. It may seem like the ultimate holiday nightmare, but by acting quickly and being prepared before you go, you can turn it round.

More information

Disclaimer: NRMA Travel Insurance is issued by Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC trading as Great Lakes Australia and promoted by Insurance Australia Limited trading as NRMA Insurance. Cover-More Insurance Services Pty Limited acts under a binder authority from Great Lakes Australia to arrange for the issue of and to administer the product on their behalf. This is general advice only so to see if the product is right for you, always consider your own circumstances and the Product Disclosure Statement and Financial Services Guide available at nrma.com.au/travel.