Losing a passport while on holiday is one of the most disruptive and scary things that can happen to a traveller. It doesn’t matter if the passport was lost or stolen, the result is the same: you’re in a situation that threatens your trip – especially a short one.
Fortunately there are a number of steps that you can take to prepare in case it happens to you. And if it does, we’ve got some suggestions for what to do afterward.
- Make photocopies of your passport ID page and leave them with two trustworthy friends back home. Bring two copies with you and keep them separate from your passport. Your friends should also have your bank and credit card numbers and bank contact information.
- Carry 2-4 extra passport photos with you. It’ll be one less thing you’ll have to deal with when replacing your passport.
- You can consider taking a digital picture of your passport ID page, birth certificate and other ID and email it to yourself. You might want to set up a special Gmail (or Hushmail) account just to hold this file. Make sure you use a complex password and don’t use an email handle that can identify you.
- If you go the digital route, leave a copy on a USB stick with friends, and if you’re comfortable with the risk, carry a digital copy with you.
- Make sure you always know where your passport is. When travelling, either keep it with you at all times or locked up in a safe place. Under your hotel room mattress is NOT a safe place. If you can, keep different ID (birth certificate, drivers license) in separate places.
- If you have your passport with you at all times when travelling, consider wearing a neck or leg pouch, a money belt or, even better, clothes with secret pockets.
- If you’re buying travel insurance, check to see that the costs incurred for replacing a lost or stolen passport are covered. Passports can easily cost more than $100 per person to replace.
- If you’re robbed, don’t resist. Concentrate on remembering details of the assailant.
- If you’ve lost your passport, try to retrace your steps. Make notes, as you may need them when making a police report.
- Don’t panic. Losing a passport (or having it stolen) isn’t the end of the world. It happens more often than you might think and Canadian embassies and consulates are ready to help.
- Call home to let them know what’s happened and that you may need to have some money wired to you. It’s best to do this over the phone as there are scams when someone hacks an email account, pretending to be a traveller who needs money immediately.
- Report the lost/stolen passport immediately. If you’re still in Canada, call Passports Canada at 1-800-567-6868 and make a report to the local police.
- If you’re abroad, contact your nearest Canadian embassy or consulate. You’ll find a list here.
- Remember that if you’ve reported your passport lost/stolen and then you find it, it is invalid. For security reasons, the government immediately voids all passports reported lost/stolen. The passport will be flagged and will not be accepted as a travel document at any border crossing/airport.
- To get a replacement passport, you’ll have to fill out an application form, submit passport photos, show proof of Canadian citizenship and identity, pay a fee and submit a declaration of loss. You can do this at embassies and consulates abroad.
- A temporary passport may be issued (at the discretion of the consular officer) to Canadians abroad for urgent, proven travel situations or residency requirements. It is valid for a short period of time, not exceeding one year and must be surrendered when your lost/stolen passport is replaced.
Remember to always take care of your passport and always know where it is – even when your trip is over. Treat it like a credit card or a $100 bill. You wouldn’t lose track of either of those, would you?