PASSPORT SAFETY TIPS
Europe is a gorgeous feast for the senses. Violent crime is low there and most travelers visit Europe without incident. But Europe is also pick pocket heaven. In fact, this is a problem not only in Europe but anywhere in the world where tourists can be found. So be prepared and ensure that you travel safely with these passport safety tips.
Passport safety starts before you leave home.
1. Before you leave home, take a picture of your passport and print two copies. Take one copy with you and one to leave with someone you trust (and can get a hold of) at home.
2. If you have a cloud based email service (such as gmail or yahoo) email yourself that picture so that you could log in on a hotel computer and print it off if necessary. Put it in a folder called Pet Pictures or some other non passport related name so that only you can find it. Alternatively if you use a cloud based note service, like my favorite one Evernote, you can store the picture there.
3. Also, consider giving a copy of that picture to your travel agent. In case of emergency they can get a copy to you and can also help walk you through the replacement process if you are rattled by the loss of your passport.
When traveling follow these safety tips to avoid having your passport lost or stolen.
A. Do not carry your passport with you when you are out and about for the day. Most European hotels are going to ask for your passport when you check in (and they keep it for a while) but when they hand it back to you don’t just stick it in your pocket or your purse. Put your passport in the safe in your room that is what is there for!
B. Consider having money belt for when you travel between cities on a plane or train. Tuck your passport in there and your credit cards and extra cash too. Get one with an RFD blocker stops thieves from scanning your credit cards as they pass by you in the airport or on the street (yup that is a thing). There are money belts that go under your clothing or around your waist or that clip into your belt. Amazon carries a large variety of these and they only cost $10-$12. Order one today!
C. Stolen Passports can sell for upwards of $5,000 on the black market. So treat your passport as the most valuable asset you are carrying during your trip…because it is just that!
What do you do if the worse happens and your passport is lost or stolen?
1. File a police report with the local authorities if you think it was stolen. You may need a copy of that if you need to file a claim or when you go to the US Consulate.
2.Find the closest US Consulate to you. Be sure to check the hours in which they deal with lost passports as they are not available 24/7 for this purpose. You can find the US Consulate closest to you here at the US embassy website.
3. Before you head to the consulate get your paperwork in order.
a. Get a copy of the passport as outlined above. If you cannot find your copy, print it off from your email in the cloud, or get your travel agent or friend to send you the copy they have. Print it out and bring it with you to the US consulate.
b. Get a passport photo taken before you apply for a replacement passport. Your hotel concierge is the best bet for where you can find a place to get the photo taken nearby.
c. You will need to fill out two forms in order to replace your passport. The first is a standard passport application and the other is a statement from you that your passport was lost or stolen. This will ensure that the lost passport gets invalidated so that no one else can use it.
By following the safety tips mentioned above, you can probably avoid having any trouble with your passport while you travel. Hopefully you don’t need the tips on how to replace your passport. But if you do need them remember to stay calm, and organize the things you need as outlined here before heading to the US Consulate.
There is a process to fix this and you are going to be okay in the long run. You have saved yourself a lot of time and trouble by being prepared, so get your passport replaced and then treat yourself to a fine European pastry or beverage. Planning for this disaster in advance can help you avoid a lot of heartache and hassle in the long run!
Bonus Passport tip: The expiration date on your US Passport has to be no less than 6 months AFTER you are scheduled to return to the US. So check that well before your trip our you might not be allowed to board your plane and head out to your vacation!