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Lost Passport Statistics: Could It Happen To You?

Worried about losing your passport? Most Americans don’t give the possibility a second thought, according to a new survey released by Mandala Research.

The group surveyed 1,000 Americans to gauge their concerns about lost or stolen passports. Here are the results:

  • 87 percent of respondents said they were “confident in their ability to protect their passport during travel.”
  • Only 2 percent of respondents had experienced a lost or stolen passport

In a press release, Laura Mandala, managing director of Mandala Research, said:

“Americans love to travel, but when it comes to matters of personal security and identity theft, these are hot button issues that raise concerns. We undertook the study to see if passport theft was a deterrent to international travel, and the numbers indicate it isn’t.”

Lost Passport Statistics

Do we need to be MORE concerned about lost or stolen passports?

Mandala’s research indicated that only 2 percent of respondents experienced a lost or stolen passport. In 2011 the State Department’s statistics showed 253,037 lost passports and 60,984 stolen passports. That might sound like a lot, but in 2011 there were more than 109 million US passports in circulation. So, it’s really just a drop in the bucket.

How to Replace a Lost Passport, Fast

The best course of action is to stay vigilant, keep your passport secure and know how to get it replaced, just in case. Here are some helpful tips:

When you go overseas:

  • Make one or more copies of the biographical page of your passport (that’s the page with your picture, birthday, etc on it.) Keep these somewhere safe, but not with your passport.
  • If you lose your passport, go to the nearest US Embassy or consulate. They will help you get your passport replaced.

If you’re in the US and your passport has been lost or stolen:

  • Apply in person at a post office or other passport acceptance facility to replace it.
  • Follow these instructions to report your old passport missing and apply for a new one: What To Do If You Lost Your Passport.

Replacing a lost passport in the United States can be time-consuming.  The State Department generally takes six weeks to process a regular passport application and three weeks to process an expedited passport application from the post office.

If you don’t have that much time before your next adventure, you can make an appointment at the nearest passport agency.   An expediting company can also save you the time and hassle of replacing your lost passport. 

Expediting companies generally offer a range of processing speeds to meet your needs and budget,  all of which are faster than the State Department’s expedited service.

Lost passport? In a hurry? We can help!

Photo credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by Daquella manera

What Should You Do If Your Passport Is Lost or Stolen While Traveling Abroad?

Traveling to a foreign country should be a wonderful experience, but if your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, it will be anything but fun. Not only does it create concerns about identity theft, but without your passport you won’t be able to leave a foreign country to return home.

Lost-Passport-While-AbroadThe best thing you can do to protect yourself is to plan ahead. Before your trip, scan the information page of your passport and print a copy to take along on your travels. Keep this backup copy in a different location than your passport – somewhere secure, but do not carry it with your passport, identification and credit cards. This backup copy will help expedite your replacement passport process.

So what should you do if this happens to you?

  • Stay calm and try not to worry.
  • Take immediate steps to report the theft to local law enforcement and to secure a replacement passport.
  • Start with the local U.S. Embassy.

Speak with the American Citizens Services unit of the Consulate. (Make sure to notify them if your scheduled departure date is soon approaching.) They can tell you where to get new passport photos and help you get a replacement passport quickly. You will need to fill out a new passport application and provide proof of your identity. This can be a little more complicated if the thief also steals your driver’s license and credit cards.

In order to replace your passport when traveling abroad, you will need the following items:

  • A Passport Photo (one photo is required)
  • Identification and evidence of U.S. citizenship
  • Travel Itinerary (airline/train tickets)
  • Police Report, if available
  • DS-11 Application for Passport (may be completed in-person)
  • DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport (may be completed in-person)

U.S. embassies and consulates in foreign countries close for weekends and holidays, so you will not be able to get a replacement passport at that time. Emergency duty officers are available for after-hours emergencies. Their job is to handle life or death emergencies, so chances are you may have to wait for normal business hours to get help with a replacement passport.

Replacement passports are usually issued on an emergency basis, which means a limited/temporary passport will be issue by the consulate. This passport will only be valid for a period of one year (not the usual 10 years).

Once you return to the United States using your emergency passport, contact RushMyPassport to help you to extend your passport for the full 10-year period.


Help…I Lost My Passport!

A lost passport is always a hassle, especially if you are planning to leave the country any time in the near future.  Don’t panic…follow this 4-step action plan and you’ll be good to go:

Step 1: Look One More Time

How many times have you called the bank to report a missing credit card, only to find it the very next day? Much like a credit card, you can’t re-activate a passport once you report it lost or stolen. So before you make that phone call, look for it once more, slowly and methodically.  See Finding a Lost Passport for some helpful advice.

Step 2: Report It Missing

If you still can’t find your passport, go ahead and call the National Passport Center at 1-877-487-2778  weekdays between 8:00 am and 10:00 pm to report it missing. This will invalidate the passport so that it can no longer be used to travel in or out of the country.

Step 3: Get Thee to a Post Office

Even if you don’t have immediate travel plans, you should replace your lost passport as soon as possible. To do so, you’ll need to appear in person at a post office or another facility that accepts passport applications on behalf of the State Department. If you’re using an expediting company to speed up the application process, you’ll go to the post office with all your paperwork, get it “sealed” by an agent there, and then forward it on to the expediter.

Pro Tip: In addition to the post office, you may also be able to turn your application at a local library or county court clerk.

See Passport Replacement Services for a list of the documents you’ll need to bring with you. (more…)

Serendipity and a Lost Passport

Would you buy someone else’s long-expired passport? What if the passport showed that, many years ago, the person lived in the same place where you live now?

For Nuno Fonseca, a Portuguese medical student studying in Paris, the pull of the mystery represented by a 60-year-old passport he found at a flea market was too strong to resist. The long-lost passport was covered in stamps from Europe and the Middle East, and its original owner had once lived in the exact same student housing complex as Mr. Fonseca.

As Mr. Fonseca told a reporter from the University of Berkeley, “I knew I had to have the passport of someone who, 60 years before me, took the adventure of going to Paris and lived at the same address. And, of course, I wanted the thrill of finding the passport’s rightful owner.”

When it came to returning the lost passport, Fonseca didn’t have much to go on. He had a name, of course – the passport once belonged to a young woman named Betty Hatfield. Other than that, all he really had was a birth date and birthplace. (more…)

One Way to Protect Yourself from a Lost Passport

At RushMyPassport, people come to us to replace lost passports all the time. For one British man currently living in Australia, though, his passport is impossible to lose- it’s tattooed across his back!

According to the Sun, Richard Ashton decided to have the tattoo done in 2006, to commemorate a backpacking trip to the country he now calls home. The tattoo includes all of the information on the identification page of his passport, including his passport number. What possessed him to have all of that tattooed across his back in permanent ink? He explains:

“I wanted something to remember my holiday by, but also wanted something patriotic. My girlfriend at the time thought I was a bit daft, but eventually she found it hilarious. That seems to be the general reaction.”

Of course, the tattoo is basically useless for international travel. Customs and Border Protection made a point of debunking a Canadian citizen’s claim that he used a scanned copy of his passport stored on his iPad to crossd the border; there’s no way a copy stored in your skin would ever be considered legit.

That said, Mr. Ashton has been able to use his passport tattoo to withdraw money at the bank.   Apparently the teller figured that if he was willing to go through the cost and pain involved in getting the information tattooed on his back, the chances were good that it was actually his information.

Travelers are advised to travel with a printed copy of their passport in addition to the original, which makes it easier to replace a stolen or lost passport overseas. In theory, Mr. Ashton’s tattoo could serve the same purpose, making it so that he can always access his biographical information and passport number. Keep in mind, though, that your passport number changes every time you renew or replace it. Tattoos, on the other hand, are for life.

If you need to replace a lost passport, see Passport Replacement Services for detailed information on how to do that in the United States.  If you are overseas and you’ve lost your passport, see How to Replace a Lost Passport Overseas.

If you’re in the US and you need to replace a lost passport quickly for travel, you have two options: make an appointment on one of the country’s 24 regional passport agency offices or use a private passport agency like RushMyPassport. RushMyPassport hand carries your paperwork to the Department of State for processing in as little as 24 hours. Plus, by going through a private company you avoid the twin hassles of having to make an appointment and having to travel to a passport agency office.

To replace a lost passport in a hurry, contact us today!

Man Replaces Lost Passport with iPad (Maybe)

It was the travel story of the week:  a 33-year-old Canadian man named  Martin Reisch left on a road trip for the US without his passport, but managed to convince Customs to let him across the border by showing them a scanned copy of the document on his iPad.

As Mr. Reisch told the Montreal Gazette, the US border guard wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the situation, but after taking his iPad off to another location temporarily, the official waved him on through:

“I guess he looked me up in the computer and saw I’m not a criminal or a terrorist or anything.“He didn’t say much besides ‘Merry Christmas.’ ”

On his return trip, Mr. Reisch also reportedly got into Canada without a hitch, again by bringing up the scanned copy of his passport on his iPad. He told the Montreal Gazette that he believes Steve Jobs would be proud:

“He’d probably say: ‘Here’s something to work on for the future.’ Maybe have some kind of digital certification or encryption to let people travel like this.”

Ah, the triumph of technology over bureaucracy. It makes for a great story, but there’s just one catch- it might not have actually happened. (more…)

What to Do If You Lost Your Passport

If you lost your passport, what would you do? How would you protect your personal information while ensuring that your travel plans are not interrupted?

If you’re not sure how to answer that question, the instructions below should help:

Step 1: Report the Lost Passport

Before you give up on finding your passport, stop, take a deep breath and commit to looking one more time. Try the steps outlined in Finding a Lost Passport. After you’ve reported it missing, you can’t use it to travel again even if it turns up later.

Once you’ve been forced to give up the ghost, however, call the National Passport Information Center at 1-877-487-2778 to report the loss so that nobody else will be able to use your passport for travel.

Step 2: Gather Documents

After reporting your lost passport, start gathering the documents needed to replace it. Make sure you have everything outlined below:

  • Proof of identity, such as a driver’s license or other government-issued ID.
  • Proof of citizenship, such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, previously issued US passport, naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship.
  •  A copy of passport application form DS-11.
  • A copy of passport application form DS-64.
  • One passport photo.
  • A check or money order to pay the appropriate fees.

Step 3: Apply for a New Passport in Person

Anyone who needs to replace a lost passport must apply in person at a passport acceptance facility, like a post office or a library. Bring all of the documents listed above, and remember not to sign form DS-11 until the passport agent instructs you to do so.

After you’ve submitted the paperwork, you should receive your replacement passport in the mail within six weeks if you applied for regular service and at least three weeks if you applied for expedited processing via the State Department.

For faster service, you can make an appointment at one of the country’s 24 regional passport agencies if you’re within two weeks of your travel date. Alternately, you can use a private service like RushMyPassport to get your passport application hand-delivered to the State Department, for processing within 24 hours with no need to make an appointment or travel to one of these passport agency locations.

Let RushMyPassport help you get your lost passport replaced quickly!

“Not That Good” Samaritan Returns Lost Passport, Keeps Camera

At first, it seemed like an inspirational Hallmark story, the type of thing that restores your faith in humanity. A British couple, Jeremy and Sally Weaving, lost a bag at the airport containing valuables like money, a digital camera and Mr. Weaving’s passport. They despaired of finding it again, only to wake up one morning to see a package on their doorstep containing the missing bag. In an interview with the Daily Echo, Mrs. Weaving described how delighted they were to see the bag returned:

“When we realised the bag was missing my husband drove straight back to the airport in the hope that it had been handed in but to no avail. To make matters worse he was due to go to France three days later to take part in a 600-mile charity bike ride…You can imagine our surprise when a large parcel arrived at our house.”

Unfortunately, the golden moment was quickly tarnished when the couple opened the bag.

A 2001 study by Reader’s Digest showed that about 67% percent of those who encounter a lost wallet will return it to its owner, along with the cash inside. The woman who returned the Weaving’s bag, however, must have been in the other 33%. The money was there, true, and so was Mr. Weaving’s passport. However, the woman claimed the couple’s digital camera for herself, writing “I am sure your gratitude will extend to let me keep the camera (I never did replace mine) as a reward.”

Even more cheekily, she had the nerve to tell the couple that they should consider it a “travel expense.” She signed the letter “A Good Samaritan, but not that good.”

Unfortunately for the “Not-So-Good Samaritan,” she may get more than she bargained for. The police are treating the case as a theft.

Should you happen to suffer from a lost passport, this story is an important reminder that you shouldn’t depend too heavily on the kindness of strangers. Look for it, give it a short period of time to reappear, and then call the National Passport Center at 1-877-487-2778 to report the lost passport so that nobody else can use it.

For instructions on how to get another valid passport, see How to Replace a Lost Passport.

Regular passport processing takes about six weeks, and even expedited service can take three weeks door-to-door. If you need your new passport sooner, you have two options: Make an appointment at one of 24 regional passport agency offices run by the Department of State, or use a private company like RushMyPassport for passport processing in as little as 24 hours with no appointment necessary.

Contact us today to get your lost passport replaced as quickly and simply as possible!


Twitter Finds Lost Passport on Amazing Race

Lost passports are a perennial hazard for the teams of contestants on “The Amazing Race,” now in its tenth year of production. This time around, a passport mishap almost ended one team’s race before it could even begin.

Kaylani Paliotta and her teammate Lisa Tilley stopped at a gas station en route to Los Angeles International Airport. Unfortunately, Kaylani’s passport didn’t make it out of the gas station.  The film crew, who saw the dropped passport, were unable to intervene- except to call the show’s producers to tell them that the team was toast.

Host Phil Keoghan told the New York Times that “We were planning on eliminating this particular team, because there was no way they were going to travel.”

The duo’s race was saved, however, by an unlikely hero named Ryan Storm. Mr. Storm, a techie with an active Twitter account, saw Kaylani drop her passport and tweeted about it:

“So #Thelife gets crazier. So after being randomly filmed for ‘The Amazing Race,’ I see that one of them dropped there [sic] passport!!!”

His tweet was seen by another Twitter user, someone with a passion for “The Amazing Race” (and perhaps a bit too much time on his or her hands) who was monitoring the social network for mentions of the show. This person urged Mr. Storm to take the passport to the airport ASAP.

How could he say no? As he wrote to the New York Times, “Her dream was going to die right now if I didn’t get her this passport.”

With Kaylani’s lost passport returned, the elimination ceremony was called off and the two women were able to continue the race.

What would have happened if Mr. Storm hadn’t made it to the airport? While it would have been heartbreaking to see them shut out of the race that early, it was understandable that they were slated for elimination given the fact that lost passports take time to replace. Standard processing can take a whole six weeks, while expedited processing can take three.

Faster service is available, with twenty-four hour processing available by appointment only at one of the State Department’s 24 regional passport agency offices or without an appointment through a private expediter like Unfortunately, when it comes to The Amazing Race, even 24 hour processing is too slow.

Need help replacing a lost passport quickly? Contact us today!


Customs Officer Loses Texas Man’s Passport

As Rio Grande Valley resident Joe Valdez found out last month, even Customs officers can make mistakes. For Mr. Valdez, what was supposed to be a routine border crossing resulted in a lost passport after a border patrol officer handed Mr. Valdez’ passport to someone else.

As Mr. Valdez explained to local news station KRGV, “I parked there, and another person on a bike parked there on the side. And the officer by mistake or something gave my citizenship passport to the guy on the bike and the guy took off.”

At first, the officer told Mr. Valdez that he would get his passport back, but apparently he was unable to retrieve the document.

Replacing a lost passport isn’t cheap, and at first Customs officials told Mr. Valdez that he might not get his money back, though he was more than welcome to file a claim for it.

Fortunately, a call to Customs and Border from the local news station quickly rectified the situation. According to Mr. Valdez, “Now I went today and talked to them, and they said we’re going to take care of it. So they gave me the forms to send it out and they’re going to be refunding my money back.”

If you lose your passport, the first thing you need to do is report it lost or stolen. This will invalidate the passport so that nobody else can use it (including you if you should happen to find it again.) To report a lost passport, call 1-877-487-2778.

Next, you’ll need to apply in person for a replacement at a passport acceptance facility, like a post office. You’ll need to fill out passport application forms DS-11 and DS-64. Bring proof of identity, proof of citizenship and one passport photo, along with money to pay the fees. It’ll cost $135 for a new passport, plus an additional $60 fee if you need it expedited.

Regular service will take at least six weeks, while expedited service from the Department of State will take at least three weeks. If you need your lost passport replaced more quickly, you should either make an appointment at one of the Department of State’s 24 regional passport agency offices, or for more convenient service use a private expediter like RushMyPassport. We’ll take your passport application directly to the Department of State, for processing in as little as 24 hours!

For help replacing a lost passport in a hurry, contact us today!