The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

What to do if you lose your possessions abroad

The last thing you want to happen while you are abroad is losing your belongings. However make sure you know what to do and who will help you with these travel tips...

Lost wallet

If you’re the victim of theft or you lose your possessions abroad you should always report this to the local police as soon as you can. This is very important as you’ll need a copy of the crime report to do things like replace your passport or make a claim on your travel insurance. No matter what you lose, it always starts with a phone call, so make sure you call as soon as you find out.


Losing Travel Documents

You should also visit your home country’s embassy, consulate or high commission in the country you are visiting. From there you will be asked to sign and fill out various forms that will report your last passport as lost or stolen and will also cancel your passport so no one can use your identity. They will also provide you with replacement travel documents that you can use to return to your home country with. There is a fee for this, though in most countries this fee can be claimed on your travel insurance.


Losing Credit or Debit Cards

All banks have emergency 24 hour numbers you can call to report your card lost or stolen. Replacements for lost cards should also take about 24 hours, though some issuers take three days or more. Your card issuer may be able to make you an emergency cash advance too.


Lost Baggage

You'll need to speak to the airline directly to find out what they'll offer you. If you have travel insurance you may be able to get a more generous payment from your insurance provider, so it's worth checking what cover you have. If your baggage is delayed, the airline has 21 days to try and find it and return it to you. If they don't do this or it isn't found, it will be considered to be lost.


There are no set rules about how the airline will help you during the 21-day delay period. However, they should cover any emergency expenses that you have to pay because you don't have your luggage. There are several ways they can do this. For example, they could give you an immediate one-off payment so that you can buy emergency items, such as toiletries and spare clothes. They could pay you a set amount for each day of the delay up to a maximum number of days. They could also not make any up-front cash payments but give you money back for any expenses because your baggage is delayed. If they do this, make sure you keep all your receipts.


How to Prevent Theft

It is advisable that you make multiple copies of your travel documents. Leave some copies at home and bring some copies in a separate bag that your originals aren’t in. Therefore, if you lose a purse or wallet, you will have backup copies in a separate bag.


Pick Pocketing is a problem almost anywhere you go, especially larger cities. Therefore, make sure you invest in money clips, money belts, and zipper locks and only bring what is necessary. For women it is good to invest in a smaller cross body bag that zips and has a flap over the zipper. These bags are harder to rip off as they are strapped across your body. Always carry your bag in front of you, with a hand on the top of your bag and also the strap. For men and women, do not put your wallet or phone in your back pockets. Keep everything to the front.


If your phone is lost or stolen, make sure to call the police and your phone provider so they can disable the phone so no one can use it. If you have insurance through your cell phone provider, a claim can be made for a stolen phone at most providers.


Also, avoid backpacks if possible unless you are comfortable with wearing it frontwards. If you need a backpack, using zipper locks on the compartment with valuables is very advisable as you cannot see what is going on behind you. With larger bags, like backpacks, on airplanes and trains it is wise to place the bags behind your legs or hold it in your lap with arms hugging it.


No matter what country you are in, there is always a threat of theft, but there are also always people there to help you. Therefore, be mindful of your belongings because you can never be too careful. If something does go amiss, stay calm as help is just a phone call away.


About Author

Lost wallet

Alyson Blech recently graduated with degrees in Public Relations and Media Studies, along with minors in Journalism and Art History from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. Alyson has lived in Iowa her entire life, but decided to cross the pond to gain internship experience in London, England. In her spare time she obsesses over dogs, pizza and zumba.