There’s nothing like that feeling when you realize you’ve misplaced something important. It can be especially worrisome when that something is an important travel document (such as your passport) and you are far from home. But don’t fret—if you handle the situation properly, lost documents are usually little more than an inconvenience.
Before you go
Most airlines provide travelers with electronic tickets, which mean less documents to potentially misplace. Unlike paper boarding passes, an e-ticket can oftentimes be shown on your smartphone screen or even reprinted if lost.
Make multiple copies of your passport or travel I.D. card and cover all your bases: Pack one copy in a checked bag and one in your carry-on, separate from your actual passport. Give a copy to a travel companion or a trusted person at home who could potentially relay the information to you over the phone or send you a digital copy if necessary.
When you realize it’s gone
Stay calm and retrace your steps. Do your due diligence and contact the places you’ve been since you last saw your documents. This may mean calling your airline, the airport, restaurants, taxi companies and more. Your hotel may be able to assist you in making local calls.
Report your missing documents to local authorities as well as the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you are abroad and planning on leaving the country very soon, be sure to let the Consular Section know. You can contact the State Department at 1-877-487-2778, but make sure it’s really, truly gone—passports reported as stolen by phone will be invalidated and can no longer be used for travel.
For domestic travel, the TSA requires government-issued identification, but may be able to verify your identity through a public database or multiple forms of I.D. as long as one is issued by a government authority.
How do you safeguard against lost documents while traveling? Share your tips in the comments!