us-passportYour passport is gone and you are in another county. What are you going to do?

Misplacing your passport is enough to strike terror in the hearts of any traveler but imagine you are 15, traveling with your aunt to Paris on your first-ever international trip, and you set down your airplane ticket and passport somewhere in the airport during a layover in Germany and you simply can’t find them.

This little scenario happened to my daughter on her Spring Break last year. My sister, her guardian for this generous aunt-niece excursion, was having a semi-coronary as they made their way to the lost & found and asked the guy behind the desk if anyone had turned the items in.

“It will cost you money,” he said, in a deadpan way, to which my sister’s panicked ire began to rise.

“Just kidding,” he quickly added, “and here is some chocolate for making you panic.” He pulled the treasured items out from under the desk to the shock and relief of its owner. Apparently my daughter had left them on the top of a money machine and some unknown angel had turned them in.

But, what would have happened if she had not found them? As for the ticket, that would have been an expensive replacement since my sister used her frequent flyer miles to get super great prices.

But, for the passport, the U.S. Department of State offers a Travel.State.Gov website with several critical steps:

1. Contact your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are in a hurry, make sure to state your immediate travel plans. Check the country specific information for your personal crisis situation.

2.  Fill in a new application, indicating if you are replacing a lost or stolen one. All minors under 16 need to appear in person at the time of application.

3. Give all pertinent information to the Consular Officer including proof of ID if available, an affidavit of loss, and citizenship verification. Consider making copies of all your documentation and storing them safely in your suitcase in case the ones you are holding get lost.

4. If you lose it on a weekend, contact the after-hours officer but you will probably not get a new ID until the office reopens. After-hours officers focus primarily on life and death issues.

5. Fees are normal. See the U.S. Schedule of Fees for more details.

Happy trails!