What to do if you lose your passport when travelling

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Flight delays, lost baggage, missing hotel bookings – of all the things that could go wrong on holidays losing your passport is one of the most annoying. You can’t get into or out of foreign countries without it. So if you’re in the unenviable situation of having your passport lost, stolen or damaged this article will help! We’ll walk you through everything you need to know to get it replaced. Knowing what to do if you lose your passport could be the difference between a memorable holiday, or a disaster.

If you’re planning to go overseas and are still in possession of your passport – keep reading! This information might help you prepare so that if you ever lose your passport, you’ll have everything you need at hand to make the process a little easier.

Reporting a missing passport

If you lose your passport, you are required by law to report the loss or theft of your passport as soon as possible. Why? Because your passport is one of the single most important documents you possess. Your passport could be used for criminal activities, including identity theft. If you’re overseas, you can report your missing or stolen passport report your passport lost or stolen online or in person with your nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission.

If you lose your passport and you’re travelling in Australia, call the Australian Passport Information Service on 131 232. As soon as you have made the report your passport will be permanently cancelled, if you find it again later, it will be unlawful for you to use it.

Getting a replacement passport

To arrange a replacement passport you need to apply for a new passport either online or at the nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission. When you are completing the form, you are not renewing a current passport but applying for a new one.

In most cases, your passport will be produced in Australia and couriered to the nearest mission for you to collect.

If you need to travel before a replacement can be arranged, you may be eligible for an emergency passport (see below for more information on how long the process can take). Emergency passports are only valid for short periods of time and have some restrictions. Read all the information on emergency passports from DFAT before making further travel arrangements.

The application process

Once you have reported your passport as missing or stolen and have completed the form to apply for a new passport, you will most likely need to attend an interview at the nearest Australian diplomatic or consular mission.

You will also need to:

  • Provide two colour photographs to Australian passport standards (one photo must be signed on the reverse by a guarantor)
  • Produce original documents to prove your citizenship and identity (see below for more information on providing documents)
  • Pay the fee

For more information on the process see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) guide to lodging an application.

How long will it take to get a replacement

DFAT advise that the standard turnaround time for producing a new passport in Australia is three weeks. However, a priority processing service is available and can produce a passport in just two working days. Once the passport is ready it needs to be couriered to you, so it’s safe to factor in at least a few days delivery time, or more depending on where you are.

If you are eligible for an emergency passport, in most cases this will be produced at the diplomatic or consular mission near you, which will speed up the process. Processing times depend on your location, the mission you are dealing with will be able to give you more advice.

Producing documents

If you’re overseas, you probably don’t have original proof of identity and citizenship documents, like your birth certificate, on hand. You can have these documents mailed to you by a friend or family member, or you may be able to arrange for them to take them to the Passport Office in Australia who will make signed copies to fax to your Australian mission. The mission will be able to provide you advice on exactly what is needed, and what can be arranged.

Things to do before you leave

Choice Australia suggest the following measures to cut down on processing time should you find yourself needing a new passport.

  • Record your passport number somewhere safe; you’ll need it to report it missing.
  • Travel with alternative identification, for example, your driver’s licence and a credit card
  • Make sure someone at home has access to your birth certificate or proof of citizenship
  • Pack extra passport photos that are current and signed by a guarantor

More information

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