Grace emptied her backpack as soon as she stepped into her hotel room. She turned the bag upside down and shook out all the contents of the pockets and pouches. She took off her jacket and cargo pants and rummaged through the pockets, even though she knew she will not find it there.
With trembling hands, she grabbed her iPad and called her cousin in the Philippines, never mind if it’s the middle of the night in Manila.
“Tulungan mo ako beh, nawala ko ang passport ko! Anong gagawin ko?” (Help me, I lost my passport! What am I supposed to do now?)
Losing your passport abroad is a serious matter. It is your primary identification while outside your home country, a prized ID that allows you to walk through ports of entries and out of immigration offices without hassle. In other countries, you need to show your passport before they ring up your purchase (tourists are exempted from paying taxes in some countries). Without it, you are basically an alien, in the strictest sense of the word.
So what is a Pinoy to do when he realizes that his / her passport has gone missing while he’s abroad? I researched (and researched some more) on how seasoned travelers handled the same situation and have compiled it here for our consumption. Feel free to share this to friends and families who are frequent travelers. We’d love to hear about your own experiences too!
- Download a copy of the passport application form from the Philippine Embassy website of the country where you are located. Provide all needed information and make sure that all entries are spelled clearly and correctly.
- File a police report and have it authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the report was filed.
- Get a notarized Affidavit of Loss and have this authenticated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where the affidavit was executed.
- A copy of the PSA Birth Certificate of the passport holder.
- Other identification cards and documents to further support the identity of the applicant.
- A photocopy of the lost passport (if available).
- Prepare the processing fees which will depend on the country where you are securing the replacement passport.
- You might have to cancel or re-schedule some items in your itinerary. If you are there for work or business, inform you boss and colleagues of your situation and the estimated time you need to get back on track.
- Once you have established communication with the Philippine Embassy and have been given an estimated timeline as to when your new passport will be released to you, get in touch with your airline. You might need to extend your stay and therefore, your plane ticket dates need to be extended too. In Washington D.C., a 15-day waiting period is required on top of the 8 to 12-week processing period if the lost passport is still valid and if the passport was not issued by the Embassy/Consulate General where you are applying for replacement.
- Next is to secure the place where you will be staying while waiting for your new passport to be released. You might need to call relatives and friends who live near the city or state where you are staying.
- Secure your finances. You might want to re-think that shopping spree. You need to have enough cash with you to last you until you are finally able to leave.
- Call your family and colleagues in the Philippines and update them with your whereabouts (who are you staying with, how long will you be staying there, etc.).
Pre – departure Preparations:
- Back up all your identification cards. Photocopy your passport, driver’s license, your social security card, and your company ID. Keep soft copies in your laptop and in a USB; you might also want to keep copies in your email for easy access.
- Consider bringing a copy of your PSA Birth Certificate and PSA Marriage Certificate (if married). These can come in handy when securing replacement for your lost passport. Keep soft copies in your email and electronic devices too.
- Your plane tickets and boarding passes must be photocopied or scanned as well. Keep soft copies in your tablet, phone, and in your email for easy access.
- Take note of the phone numbers of the Philippine Embassy of your destination. Check out their location and office hours online.
Of course, the best solution is still to take precautionary measures and to always be extra careful with your belongings especially while in a foreign land. Losing something as important as a passport is enough to ruin an otherwise exciting trip. Don’t lose heart when you do lose something though; remember, every problem has a solution. You just need to be calm and collected when faced with such challenges. And always, always arm yourself with a back-up plan.