Tips to Protect Your Passport
Getting your passport is the first step in preparing for your trip abroad. But once you receive it, it’s important to protect your passport. You will be required to present your passport to customs officials when you enter and exit foreign countries, and your passport is required for re-entry into the United States when you return home. Without it you won’t be allowed to enter the country. In addition, your passport is the only acceptable form of identification in many countries, and you will be required to present it when you check in and out of hotels. You will also be required to present your passport at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if you need assistance while traveling abroad. Having your passport lost or stolen while traveling can put a halt to your plans in a hurry, and replacing it is a major inconvenience. The best way to keep your travel plans on track is to protect your passport. Below you will find tips to help you keep your passport safe at home and abroad.
Keep it Somewhere Safe
Your passport can just as easily be lost, stolen or misplaced at home as it can abroad. Make sure you keep it somewhere secure at all times. If you do not have a safe in your home, you may want to consider purchasing a fireproof safe where you can store your passport. When you return from traveling, get in the habit of putting it back immediately, so you don’t misplace it. This will also prevent you from accidentally washing it with the laundry or otherwise damaging it.
Make a Copy of Your Passport
To protect your passport, make a copy of it before you travel. Keep it separate from your actual passport. If you lose your passport while you are traveling, the copy will have your passport number and other vital information on it, which you will need in order to get a replacement.
Do Not Carry Your Passport With You
Whenever possible, you should not carry your passport with you. If you take your passport with you, it is more likely to be lost or stolen. After you arrive at your destination, store your passport in the hotel safe. Do not leave it in your hotel room.
Conceal Your Passport
If you must carry your passport with you, protect your passport by storing it in a passport holder and secure it under your clothes where it cannot easily be reached. Do not carry it in your back pocket, a backpack or a purse, where a pickpocket can steal it from you. Do not leave your passport lying out, where someone can easily grab it or where you may forget about it.
Do Not Let Anyone Take Your Passport
When traveling abroad, you will be required to present your passport to various officials. Do not let them leave your presence with your passport. If they begin to walk away, ask if you can accompany them, so you can always keep your passport in sight.
Lost or Stolen Passports
Sometimes, despite your best efforts to protect your passport, accidents happen. If your passport is lost or stolen while you are abroad, you should report it immediately to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. They will be able to provide you with the passport information you need to get a replacement, so you can continue your trip and so you will be allowed to re-enter the United States when it’s time to return home.
If you are in the United States when your passport is lost or stolen, you can report it by calling 1-877-487-2778 or by mailing form DS-64: Statement regarding a lost or stolen passport to: U.S. Department of State; Passport Services; Consular Lost/Stolen Passport; Section: 1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500; Washington, DC 20036. You can also submit form DS-64 with your application when you apply for a new passport.
Extra Passport Photos
When you cannot protect your passport and it is lost or stolen while you are traveling abroad, you will be required to provide a passport photo in order to get a replacement. It is a good idea to take a couple of passport photos with you. If you do need to replace your passport during your trip, the last thing you’ll want to do is search an unfamiliar city for a place that takes passport photos.
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