Some time back, an Indian was left stranded at the Abu Dhabi airport for five days as he forgot his passport in the plane while transiting for another flight. The resident of Kerala had mistakenly left back his passport on the seat in the plane during the deboarding. He could not retrieve the passport as it was against security rules for passengers to board the plane again. He was issued an emergency certificate by the Indian Embassy only after five days when Abu Dhabi Police and his friends in Riyadh alerted the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
Indian dancing sensation Prabhu Deva, who was supposed to attend the IIFA 2014 Awards at Tampa, had also planned a surprise gift for his two sons. He wanted to take them to Disneyland in Florida and other places after attending the IIFA. But then all his plans went kaput because the agency dealing with the visas lost all their passports. Not only was it a big disappointment for Prabhu, it was also worrying as he had lost important documents. However, since Prabhu Dheva was already in India at that time, he could easily apply for the replacements.
But what if you’re already travelling and happen to lose this important document?
Your passport is the most important document on your packing list, when you’re travelling. Losing your passport while traveling can easily turn your otherwise flawless trip into a potential disaster. Without a valid passport, you cannot enter other countries on your travel itinerary or even return back to your own country.
Here are some useful ideas on how to protect your passport — and steps that you need to take in case your passport is lost or stolen while you’re traveling abroad. With these steps, replacing your lost passport should be as painless as possible, in case you find yourself without proper identification in a foreign country.
Before You Go On A Vacation
We all make a list of things to carry, have a checklist of important documents to carry on vacation. But how many of us actually carry copies of your passport/visa?
Not many! Because we really don’t expect this scenario to happen (losing the passport). But believe me, such things do happen!
Here are some useful tips that will speed up the replacement process, if your passport is lost or stolen.
The ideal thing to do is to leave one copy at home with friends or relatives (in case you lose your luggage on vacation) and carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
Another convenient thing to do is to scan your passport and send a copy to your own e-mail account so that it can be accessed anywhere in the world.
Have Spare Passport Photos
Take along a couple of passport photos as well (ideally around 2″ x 2″ photographs taken within the last six months).
Besides the passport, make sure you have another form of photo ID to prove your citizenship.
Providing duplicate copies to the consular officer speeds up the passport replacement process as the copy contains your passport number and other information necessary for replacement.
Look After Your Passport
Passports of certain countries (especially a U.S. passport) can attract undue attention from criminals.
Don’t Flaunt It
To avoid being a target of crime, don’t be too conspicuous with your passport. Not only do you risk having the passport stolen, but your other identification, credit cards and money as well. Take it out only when you need to provide it to officials. Rest of the time, keep it safe and away from prying eyes.
Use Travel Accessories
There are several travel accessories that can help keep your personal items safe. You get belts that can be worn around your waist or slipped around your neck. You even get water-proof wallets.
Use the Hotel Safe
If you have access to a ‘safe’ in your hotel room, you may leave your passport in the hotel safe, definitely not in the open in the hotel room. Also, one person should ideally never carry all the passports for an entire group.
Lost or Stolen Passport? Here’s What You Need To Do
Although its natural to panic when you realize that your passport has gone, there are ways to deal with the horrible situation.
- The best thing to do is to ask your hotel concierge or a local store; someone should be able to point you in the right direction.
- Without any hesitation, notify the local police, especially if you saw someone stealing your documents. Police will lead you to your country Embassy there.
- You are actually required to contact the nearest police authorities, your countries embassy or consulate where you’ll have to to fill out some relevant forms.
- Its easy to find information online about the various embassies and consulates in other countries. Once you fill the form and pay the passport application fees, the embassy/consulate will verify whether a passport had been issued to you. Once all the checks are done, you can pick up your new passport and continue with your trip.
Even if you’re a seasoned traveler, you need to be careful about theft and particularly about pick-pockets. The latter are everywhere: in the Metro (subway), at museums, and other places visited by tourists. Often, it’s a group of young children, but this annoyance has spread, and young adults are finding this profitable. They are very good at what they do! So, don’t carry around too much money. Put your valuables and passports in a safe (some hotels have safes in the rooms, others have a safe at the reception where you can leave your things). Lock your suitcases in your room. Be careful when taking money out of your wallets.
Finally, take photocopies of your passports that you can have with you when you go out, and even make scans of your passports and send them in an email to yourself before you leave. Sounds terrible, and most tourists have no problems, but I don’t want these inconveniences to happen to you and make your trip less enjoyable.
Its advisable to take these steps at the earliest as you don’t want anyone misusing your passport; the last thing you want is someone using your identification to fly to another area.