Losing Your Passport During Travel

by Wendy Fougner

In October 2011, my husband and I had the unfortunate experience of having our passports stolen when we were in Athens. Over the years, people have frequently told me that you should bring always bring photocopies of your passports in case they get stolen, to help with the issuance of a temporary one, however, we found out the hard way that this really wasn’t the case. Here are some tips that I hope will ease the process of getting a temporary passport for you if you ever happen to be in this similar situation while you’re abroad.
The process of getting our temporary passports was very straightforward. You can pay extra towards getting a 5-year passport, which we did, or you can get a 1 year. If you get a 5 year, when you return home you exchange your temporary passport for a new permanent one. It’s a good idea to get your passport photos taken before you go to the embassy as we had, this speeds up the process. Make sure that you have two identical photos and that the photography store where they are taken writes their name on the back of each photo. In addition, we had already filled out an application form prior to going to the embassy. At the embassy there was another form to fi ll out, but since we already had a form, it made filling out the embassy’s form much faster.
One of the things we had to include was our birth certificates numbers. Its a good idea to keep documents such as these in an accessible place back home, so that a family member can find the information easily and send it to you, or alternatively copies of these might be helpful to bring along. We didn’t need a guarantor as we were able to swear an affidavit. Since our driver’s licenses and Nexus cards weren’t stolen, we were able to show those as well. The photocopies of the passports that were stolen didn’t help at all towards getting a temporary passport. It is still a good idea to bring copies of your passport with you on holidays though. If you leave your passports in the hotel safe, you should carry the photocopies with you in case you are stopped by the police or need to take out money at the bank. It is also important to note that having a Nexus card really didn’t help in Europe. We couldn’t have crossed the border with only our Nexus cards – they aren’t a replacement for the passport, but are really just for travel in Canada and the US.
Once the paperwork was finished, we gave the file numbers to our son back home, who brought them in to the passport office in Vancouver for processing. They were processed within 24 hours and we had new, temporary passports. The passports indicated that they were issued in Athens even though they were, in fact, issued in Canada. Luckily we were able to catch up with our cruise and enjoy the remainder of our vacation. We went through customs in several different countries while on the cruise and no one gave us a hard time for having temporary passports.
Overall I would say that this was an important learning experience, and it hasn’t changed our view of travelling at all. These sorts of things just happen sometimes, and it’s not the end of the world. In retrospect we probably could have been a bit more careful, but we still managed to put it behind us and enjoy the rest of our vacation.