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Missing Passport: What to do if you misplace your passport while traveling to the USA


February 21, 2022 ( Newswire) Imagine that you misplace your passport today, then by the following week, you already have a new one; how amazing would that be?

I bet you'll like that.

Keep reading to find out how you can go about retrieving a stolen or lost travel passport. Mind you, the process of passport retrieval may not always be as swift as we earlier mentioned. Sometimes it can take longer than expected. Other times, it can happen so fast. Whatever the case may be, you can take consolation from knowing that a missing passport is not the end of the world.

Can I apply for visas if my passport gets missing?

Unfortunately, NO. If you lose your passport, you're technically incapacitated to apply for anything. It wouldn't matter whether you're applying for a US F-1 visa or an ESTA.

This is why it's important to protect your passport at all costs.

Can I travel if I lose my passport?

Even if you have a valid ESTA USA visa, which grants you easy entry into the US, without your passport, you can't go anywhere.

I once read a true-life blog about a therapist who applied for the ESTA USA authorization in the UK. The lady in question got the permit but couldn't travel because her husband misplaced her travel passport.

As you can see, your passport is as important as a visa when you want to travel. Therefore, protect it at all costs.

What if I'm already at my travel destination when my passport gets missing?

That is even worse. Because then you won't be able to travel back home. Look, losing your passport doesn't mean anyone will show you sympathy or grant you free entry or exit. If you lose your passport while traveling to a new country, you'll be stuck in that country until you get a new passport.

Say you've entered with the ESTA USA visa scheme, losing your passport puts an extra level of pressure on you. Because ESTA visas are designed to last only for 90 days. So, imagine you lose your passport close to your departure date, and you need to exit before your 90-day stay period is over. What would you do?

Find out below.

1. Make a report at the nearest police station

Once you notice your passport is gone, the next thing you want to do is to head to a police station to make a report.

Many people might say why not keep the search up in the hopes that you might find what you're looking for. But we know better. If you think a passport is lost, then it's probably lost for real.

When you lose your passport (say it was stolen), chances are the perpetrator might put your details out for sale on the dark web. Or they might use it for other devilish acts. Most especially if you have a valid ESTA visa on the passport, fraudsters might attempt to pull some devilish stunt with the passport if it gets in their hands.

To prevent this from happening, it's important to make a police report requesting that the passport be rendered useless.

A police report will state the conditions upon which the passport was lost and will invalidate any further usage of the said document.

2. Get in touch with your country's embassy

Once you leave the police station, your country's embassy is the next place to go. But before you go, ensure to snap a new passport picture and take it along because you'll need that to start the processing of a new passport

When you get to your country's embassy, you'll need to explain what happened in detail to any official that attends to you. In most cases, you'll be asked to fill out a form to begin processing a new passport. However, depending on the embassy, you might also be asked to write a statement. This is to give the embassy a formal record of the reported event in case of future references.

For people with an ESTA authorization situation, it's important to inform the officials at the embassy how long you have left before your ESTA lapse so that they will help you obtain a temporary emergency travel document quickly.

Processing a new passport from scratch is not an option for ESTA USA travelers because you only have a short stay period. What you need is a temporary passport - something to help you exit the US as at when due.

3. Don't forget to report to the US Embassy, too

While the US embassy can do nothing about your missing passport situation, it's still important to alert them.

Remember, they're the ones who stamped your ESTA USA visa in the first place. Now that your status has changed, you need to make sure they're informed.

How to report the loss or theft of a passport to the US embassy:

  • Find the US embassy email that applies to your country. For instance, if you're from the UK, this is the applicable email to report to: Alternatively, you can write directly to the Visa Branch or program branch in the case of an ESTA USA.

In the email or letter, make sure to add the following information:

  • Your full name, date, and place of birth;
  • The passport number of the missing passport;
  • The type of visa stamped on the passport and the date and place where it was issued.
  • Detailed description of the loss or theft, including a police report.

Declaring a passport as missing immediately invalidates any visa status issued on the passport. Say you have an ESTA authorization prior to the loss. When you report to the US embassy that you've lost your passport, your ESTA status check will immediately reflect a change in status.

This is why it's important to ensure your passport is not lying somewhere in your car safe before submitting the report.

4. Apply for an emergency passport

We spoke about your country's embassy issuing a temporary passport earlier. Here's the procedure to achieving that.

  • Get a new set of passport pictures
  • Ensure you have a means of identification when applying for a temporary passport. This could be your national ID or a driver's license.
  • Have with you an evidence of citizenship, e.g., a birth certificate
  • Bring along with you travel itinerary, e.g., flight ticket
  • A report detailing your condition (loss or theft of passport) and why you're applying for a temporary passport.

If you don't have some of these items with you abroad, you can ask someone to email them to you. That way, you can print and use it as you need.

Also, it should be noted that you might be asked to pay a new application fee to process a temporary passport. How much that costs completely depends on the condition of operation of your embassy.

What happens to my visa status if I lose my passport?

Unfortunately, losing a passport automatically invalidates any visa you had on it. Whether that is an ESTA application visa, H-2B, B-2, or what have you.

As we've said earlier, losing a passport means you have to apply for a new one (or a temporary one as the case may be). When you do that, your passport number (first means of travel identification) automatically changes.

Since this new passport number has no visa attached to it, it means you can now reapply to get back your visa or ESTA authorization.

You should note that to reapply for ESTA or any US visa program, you first have to return to your country because most US visa schemes, including online ESTA USA authorizations, are facilitated from outside the country.

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