Last week’s 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, devastated the city. Buildings are in ruins and at least 148 people are confirmed dead. Christchurch is a popular town for tourists, many of whom struggled to get out of the city after the quake.
At a time like this, your first priority is obviously going to be getting out of the situation in one piece, not keeping track of your passport. Often, natural disasters leave victims stranded in the chaos without this all-important piece of identification. So, what would you do if you were in a similar situation? Although New Zealand temporarily waived passport requirements for evacuation flights according to the LA Times, tourists will still need to get them replaced prior to continuing their journey home. There are some steps you can take while planning your trip that will speed the process of getting a lost passport replaced after a disaster.
First, make a copy of your passport’s information page. Making a copy and keeping it separate from your passport itself is a well-known best practice for international travelers. However, you should also leave a copy with friends and relatives who can fax it to you if necessary. Alternately, scan a copy into your computer and then upload it to a secure, password-protected online storage system like SpiderOak or SwissDisk. That way, the information on your passport is accessible to you as long as you have an Internet connection.
After you get to safety and to the nearest US Embassy, having a copy of the information page from your lost passport accessible will make it much easier to get it replaced.
Before you travel, make sure you know where the nearest US Embassy is in case something does happen. It’s also a good idea to register with them.
While nobody likes to think of their carefully planned trip in ending in disaster, and odds are it won’t happen to you, it does pay to remember the Boy Scout motto and be prepared!