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What to do if you lose your passport abroad

You've looked everywhere & it's missing- the thing you should've never ever lost-your PASSPORT! Don't PANIC-take a deep breath and just read this!

Ashwin Sriram

Your passport is your most important proof of identity. If you lose it while studying abroad, file a police complaint right away. The police report serves as proof for embassy-related formalities.

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It’s a horrible feeling to lose anything; so just imagine how awful it would be to lose something as important as your passport while studying abroad. The very thought of it could create anxiety. Losing the passport is among the worst nightmares for an international student. But being prepared for such unlikely events could help you cope with them.

Here are a few steps you can take if you lose your passport abroad.

Emergency Passport

Your passport is your most important proof of identity. If you lose it while studying abroad, file a police complaint right away. The police report serves as proof for embassy-related formalities.

Once you’ve filed a complaint, consider applying for a temporary passport (a.k.a. an emergency passport) at the nearest Indian embassy. It is likely to take up to two weeks before you are issued one. You are allowed to apply for a temporary passport if you’ve lost your original passport.

You only need to apply for a temporary passport if you urgently require a passport and can’t wait the length of time it usually takes to get a proper one. A temporary passport allows you to fly out of the country, although some nations may impose certain restrictions on the use of a temporary passport. 

The cost and formalities of applying for a temporary passport are almost the same as a regular passport. But given the fact that a temporary passport is processed more quickly than a regular one, the passport office may charge you additional costs.

Temporary passports are issued on a case-by-case basis and are mainly used by travellers who are desperate to travel out of a particular country. So you should opt for a temporary passport only as a last resort.

Apply for a New Passport

If you’ve lost your passport and are unable to recover it using police help or through other means, then you’ll need to apply for a new one in the Indian embassy located closest to you.
A photocopy of the old passport is not a mandatory document to be submitted in case of a lost or stolen passport, but it should be produced if available.

However, you will be required to produce the previous passport specifics like the passport number, date and place of issue, while filling the passport application form. If you do not have that information with you, then the process may be delayed as the Indian embassy abroad will have to connect with the Indian passport office to gather your old passport information.

The formalities and procedures of applying for a passport abroad are the same as applying for a re-issue of passport in India. But based on the country and the Indian embassy abroad, the application form and documents required may vary slightly. 

You can check with the Indian embassy closest to your study destination to know more about the application process. But as a general rule, these are the documents you’ll need to submit along with your application form for a re-issue of passport:

  • Proof of present address
  • Proof of date of birth
  • Affidavit stating how and where the passport got lost/stolen
  • An original copy of the police report
  • Self-attested photocopies of the first two and last two pages, including ECR/Non-ECR page of the old passport, if available.

If you are interested in travelling to India with an emergency passport, then you can apply for a re-issue of a regular passport once you land in India. But take into account the time it takes to get a proper passport in India; so it doesn’t impede your return journey abroad.

Backup Plan

The best thing you can do to cope with the problem of losing your passport is to have backup copies of the passport. Once you receive your passport in India, get colour photocopies of the front and back pages. It is also advisable to have scanned copies of your passport. You can store the scanned soft copies in your email folder or carry it with you on a pen drive.

We advise you to get scanned copies and photocopies of all your important documents, including your bank details, credit card details and important contacts, so in the event that you lose your wallet or phone, or both, you have the necessary details to immediately initiate a recovery plan. 

If you lose your passport, you can submit the scanned copies of your passport to the embassy. This would help expedite the recovery process. 

Technology to the Rescue 

A scanned copy of your passport can also be useful in other emergencies. To give you an example, if for any reason you are stopped by the police in your study destination and are asked to produce your passport right away; you can show them the scanned copy of the passport on your mobile phone and it should work just as well.

One of the many useful aspects of technology today is that it allows you to store all sorts of information in your phone. Consider getting an app like WorldMate to help manage your passport particulars.

Safe Storage

Keep your passport and other important documents in a safe location, preferably in a locker in your accommodation to avoid theft or loss. Some Universities provide you with locker facility and if you feel that it's a secure place to store your valuables then keep your passport there. But as a general rule, it’s best not to carry the passport with you everywhere.

Follow our guidelines in the event you lose your passport while studying abroad. You can also make a note of these suggestions to draw up plans to prevent the loss of your passport while studying abroad. Prevention is indeed better than cure.

Please write to us if you have anything to add to our list of suggestions here. We’d love to hear from you.

Looking to study abroad?

Jyoti Sharma Jyoti Sharma,
Study abroad expert.
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