What to do if you lose your passport and visas?

Even the most cautious traveller would never be completely safe from an eventuality like losing your passport and documents when overseas.

Although at the moment you lose it looks like you want to be swallowed by earth, surprisingly, the truth is that even a little inconvenient; the procedure is usually quite simple.

Our partner at BMI, Alejandro Arevalo, who lost his passport in Austria, shares his experience.

"I was traveling as a tourist in Europe, and the last time I saw my passport was when I asked someone what train to take to go from Slovakia to Austria. I'm not sure if I lost it on the train or it was stolen in a tram that I took, but I know it was the most heart-breaking moment I've had since I've been traveling.

The first thing I did was to visit the lost objects office of the train station to find out if it was there. It is common that these documents are found by staff when cleaning toilets or floors. In my case it happened on a Friday and as I had time, I decided to wait until Monday to see if I had some luck, which did not happen.

On Monday I went to the consulate of my country in Austria to ask for help with my case. They asked me for some data from my lost passport, the police report of the loss of the document, a couple of pictures for the new passport and a bank deposit on behalf of the consulate as payment for the new one.

Although fortunately I knew my passport data, including date of issue and expiration date, identification number and full names, I recommend you to have passport copies for these cases.

Then, I went to the police station to report that I lost the passport, and since I was short of time for the opening hours of the consulate, a friend did the bank deposit while I was finishing the appointment with the police. The process was quite quick the delay depends more on the people queuing in front of you.

At the end of all this, I took some pictures and returned to the consulate where in less than half an hour I got my new passport.

You see, the tragedy more related to the anguish and uncertainty because the process is quite simple and straight forward. It takes time, but usually the consulates also have the ability to issue an emergency document that allows you to return to your home country if you are against the clock because your trip is imminent".


"This issue was also quite simple to solve. I had applied for the Schengen visa at the German embassy, ​​representing the Latvian government in my country, as I had an invitation letter from a Latvian citizen. My first step was to go to the German embassy in Austria, where I applied for the visa with the number I had been given when granted, which I knew by heart.

With this information I went to the German consulate, and was told that although they had issued the visa, my place to go was to the Latvian consulate in Vienna in order to get my new visa. I went to the Latvian consulate again and filled a form, attaching a copy of the claim of loss of passport with the police and photographs for the new visa in order to continue my journey.

Another issue was with the British Consulate that said I had to re-apply for a new visa, which was pretty much impossible because I did not have the complete documentation at the time. Moreover, although I had all the data from my all British visa they required a completely new process regardless my current visa was still valid".


The 4 Tips

"I spend several days of the trip trying to solve these issues losing my hotel bookings in the UK, but at the end I could solve what looked like a big mess and although very though it was great learning experience. Here are my top tips:

1. Before traveling, take photocopies of all your passport pages and visas, as well as credit cards and useful documents as travel insurance and ID. It is best if you can scan them and keep the files available via email or other sites that you can easily access from anywhere.

2. Try not to go out with your passport if not strictly necessary. Best leave it in the hotel security box or in a safe place, and keep a photocopy of your passport and visa if you are requested to show it to an authority in the street. If you're in another country and applying for a visa, you must ask not retain your passport because it is the only identification you have when abroad.

3. If you do not find it in a reasonable time, make the report with the police and avoid problems when using other documents as ID. Then go to the consulate to get a new document.

4. If you have time, try to get the lost visas back by contacting the respective consulates or embassies. Try to reach them by phone or by email to save time while preparing the relevant documentation you are requested. If you have time, please contact your local consulate about the next steps in order to return to your country.

Do not worry. You're not the first person to have this kind of problem and the police and consulate staff will provide the necessary advice to guide you through this process.

If there is no consulate of your country in the city where you are, contact the closest one to you. It is their duty to ensure you can solve your problem.

I hope you don’t repeat a similar situation, but just because you have better tools now than I had at the time, it would be easier to face it."