Step by Step Guide: How to Replace a Lost Passport

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Two of the most common questions I receive around the passport process are how to get a replacement passport and how to get a child passport with one parent absent.

I will help you navigate how to replace a lost or stolen passport along with how to obtain a passport for a child if the other parent is absent.

Losing your passport is a frightening experience especially if it is lost while you are traveling out of the country.

The process of replacing a lost passport can be inconvenient and stressful, but it is something every traveler should know just in case.

I will guide you through the steps so you know how to replace a lost passport fast.

How to Replace a Lost Passport

You have a few options to replace a lost passport. How fast do you need a new passport?

If you are not traveling soon, you can visit your local post office or county clerk for routine processing.

Typical routine processing is 4-6 weeks. If you need your replacement passport sooner, you will need to expedite it.

How to Report Your Lost or Stolen Passport

Once you’ve searched your purse, pockets, hotel room, and backpack, and the reality sets in that your passport is really gone – the first thing you need to do is report your lost or stolen passport so that it can be canceled.

The links in this post may be affiliate links.  That means that if you click them and make a purchase, this site makes a commission.  It will have no impact on the price you pay or the experience of your purchase.

You can report your passport lost or stolen online, via phone by calling 1-877-487-2778, or by mail.

The quickest and most efficient way to cancel your passport is either online or by phone vs mail because your passport will be canceled immediately.

What to Do If You’ve Lost Your Passport Before a Trip?

After you have canceled your passport your very next step should be to apply for a new passport.

If you’re in the United States, you’ll need to use Form DS-11, which is specific to missing passports. This must be done in person at a passport acceptance facility (including some post offices), where documents are processed and then mailed to a passport office.

You can make an appointment online, but if you have travel plans within three weeks, it is better to go to a passport agency, which can handle the application on the spot or at least within a few days.

Expedited Processing for a Lost Passport

Step 1:  Make an appointment at a Regional Passport Agency.

Step 2. If you are going to the Regional Passport Agency and you can get an appointment, make sure you have the required documents.

To make an appointment, check first for availability on the Online Appointment System. The date of your appointment must be within 3 business days of your international travel.

If you need a foreign visa, the date of your appointment must be within 10 business days of your international travel.

Because appointments are extremely limited, you may not be able to make one on your first try.

Consider the following alternate options if you cannot make an appointment online for Urgent Travel Service:

  1. Continue to check the Online Appointment System several times during the day as other customers may cancel their appointments.
  2. Apply for expedited service to receive your passport in 4-6 weeks.
  3. Call wait times are longer than usual. If you call and try to make an appointment, understand that customer service representatives do not have access to an alternate reservation system. What you see online is what they will share with you by phone.

Expedite at an Acceptance Facility

Select this option if your international travel date is in the next 4 to 10 weeks. 

You must use Form DS-11 when applying at an acceptance facility. If you need to renew your passport, you should use Form DS-82 and mail it.

Here’s how you expedite at an acceptance facility: 

  • Fill out your DS-11 application and collect your documents. See How to Apply to find the right form for you. 
  • Be sure to include the $60 expedite fee in addition to the normal application fee. See Passport Fees for more information.
  • Find the acceptance facility nearest you to turn in your application and fees. Contact the facility before arriving to determine if an appointment is required.
  • Purchase USPS’ Priority Mail Express for faster shipping of your application to us.
  • The expedite fee does not include the optional 1-2 day delivery fee of your completed passport.

What to Do If You’ve Lost Your Passport While In a Foreign Country

Same as above  – Immediately report the passport missing, then visit the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

You may have to travel to a different city within that country to locate the nearest embassy. To return to the United States, you must apply for and receive a new passport.

When visiting the embassy, bring a passport photo, government-issued identification (like a driver’s license), proof of U.S. citizenship (always, always have a photocopy of your passport and driver’s license when traveling out of the country), and your travel itinerary.

If you have lost both your passport and driver’s license and you don’t have a copy you will be up the creek without a paddle.

I recommend keeping photocopies of your documents somewhere you access.  I suggest printing two copies and keep one in your luggage and one copy on your person along with images on your phone and in your Google Drive.

Two forms must be completed for an in-person application overseas: DS-11 and DS-64. One of the forms includes a statement on the circumstances of how and where you lost your passport.

The following list identifies a number of documents/items you should take with you to the embassy/consulate.

Even if you are unable to present all of the documents, the consular staff will do their best to assist you to replace your passport quickly. 

Please provide:

  • Passport Photo (one photo is required; get it in advance to speed the process of replacing your passport)
  • Identification (driver’s license, expired passport, etc.)
  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship (birth certificate, photocopy of your missing passport)
  • Travel Itinerary (airline/train tickets)
  • Police Report, if available
  • DS-11 Application for Passport (may be completed at the time of application)
  • DS-64 Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport (may be completed at the time of application)

Statement Regarding a Lost or Stolen Passport:

When you report the loss or theft of your passport, you must complete a statement describing the circumstances under which it was lost or stolen.

You can use the U.S. Department of State form DS-64 for this purpose

Police Report:

A police report is not mandatory but can help confirm the circumstances of the loss or theft.  I encourage you to report the loss or theft of your U.S. passport to the local police in the country where the loss or theft occurred.

However, don’t spend time obtaining a police report if doing so will cause you to miss a flight or delay your travel unreasonably.

The normal passport fees are collected from applicants for replacement passports.

How to Get a Passport with One Parent Absent

Getting a passport for a minor child when you are no longer married or are not in a relationship with the other parent is a concern for many parents. 

Depending on who is listed on the child’s birth certificate, you may be able to get a passport issued without the other parent’s participation.

When applying for a passport for a minor, both parents are usually required to appear in person along with the child.

Sometimes it is not possible for both parties to appear together.

Here are common scenarios to consider when applying for a passport for a child and what you can do if the scenario applies to your situation:

  • Father is not listed on birth certificate: If the father is not listed on the birth certificate and no court order has been entered establishing paternity, you may be able to obtain the passport without the father’s consent or appearance. You should contact your local passport agency to be sure before appearing in person.
  • Both parents listed on the birth certificate and agree to sign for the passport, but one party cannot appear in person to apply:
  • If both parents agree to have the child’s passport issued, but one cannot appear in person to apply for the passport, the parent who cannot appear can execute a specific affidavit giving the other parent consent to apply for the passport in his/her absence.
  • This affidavit is good for a limited period of time so as soon as the consent is signed, it is best to visit your local passport agency immediately, otherwise, you may need to have the other parent execute another consent form.
  • Father is listed on the birth certificate but refuses to cooperate in obtaining a passport or cannot be found:
  • If the father is listed on the birth certificate but does not agree to obtain a passport for the child or cannot be found, you may be able to obtain a court order that gives you the right to apply for the passport in his absence.
  • If he cannot be found, there may also be a form you can submit when applying for the passport explaining the reasons why the father’s consent cannot be obtained.

If a parent refuses to sign a passport application, you may be able to get around it but you will have to hire an attorney. 

The law is clear and is designed to protect against international parental child abduction

First Time Passport Applicants

A passport is a travel document that easily identifies you and gives you permission to travel outside of your home country. 

If you live in the United States, your passport will be a small navy blue booklet, which will contain your photo, name, date of birth, residence in the United States, and blank pages waiting to be stamped.

If you are thinking about traveling to another country you will need to apply for a passport and once you arrive in the new country, you will give your passport over to immigration, who will then stamp one of your pages with their country’s official seal. 

Not a big deal but you must have a passport in order to enter another country and to return to the US after you have checked a destination off of your bucket list.

What You Need to Apply for a Passport

  • Passport application forms
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship
  • Proof of your identity
  • Two current photographs
  • Your social security number
  • Applicable fee payment method

How to Apply for a Passport

Step 1: Go to your local U.S. post office and grab a passport application or you can download the passport application forms online and print the application right from the comforts of your home.

If printing the form from home the application MUST be printed in black ink on white paper.

The paper must be 8 1/2 inches by 11 inches, with no holes or perforations, and also none of that shiny paper that you used to send out invitations to your kid’s birthday parties.

Step 2: Once you print out the passport application please read the instructions that are printed on the first and second pages completely before even attempting to fill out the form. 

Completely fill out page 3 of the application in its entirety using black ink only and then move on and read page four of the application.

Step 3: Remember all of the information I told you to gather earlier which will include proof that you are an American citizen according to the U.S. Department of State.

  • Certified U.S. birth certificate issued by the city, county, or state (not a copy).
  • Records of birth abroad if you weren’t born in the United States
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Certificate of citizenship

Provide proof of your identity with any of the following:

  • Previous U.S. passport (damaged passports are not accepted)
  • Naturalization certificate
  • Certificate of citizenship
  • Current and valid:
    • Driver’s license
    • Government ID: city, state, or federal
    • Military ID: military and dependents

Step 4: Go to your local Walgreens and get two passport photos taken to submit with your application. This is not the time to have on your Sunday best attire.

If you wear glasses wear them and look straight ahead and don’t smile. I know you want to show off your pearly whites but you must have a neutral face for your passport photo.

Step 5: Make sure you have your Social Security number.

Step 6: After you have completed the application and had your lovely photo taken the next step is to pay the application and execution fees.  Make sure you check the fees online as they often change and The Department of State announced this week that the passport execution fee will be $35 starting on April 2, which means that adult passport books will now cost $145, up from $135, while child passports (aged 16-years-old and young) will now cost $115, up from $105.

Check with the location where you’ll be applying to find what payment methods are accepted so you will be prepared.

Step 7: Find the passport office location nearest you and provide them with your completed form, passport photos, and money for your passport.  You will need to provide your departure date for your trip and if you don’t have a firm date just put any date down.

You will receive your U.S. passport in about four to eight weeks. For an additional fee of $60 plus overnight delivery fees, you can rush a U.S. passport application.

How to Expedite a Passport

  • Prepare your passport application materials
  • Find out how much your passport fees will be
  • Find the passport application address you will need
  • Contact that passport office to find out what payment methods are accepted
  • Put your materials, including payment method, in a manila letter-sized envelope, address it to the correct office, write “Expedited” on the envelope, and send it.
  • Take your envelope to the post office and I suggest overnighting the application if you have the available funds

It takes longer to get a passport renewed so make sure you give adequate time to receive your passport after you have scheduled and paid for your upcoming trip.  

The Passport Bureau of Consular Affairs is expecting more than 20 million applications in 2020.

While The Passport Bureau will do everything they can to ensure you will receive your passport in a timely manner but with 20 million applicants things are not going to go as quickly as you would like.

Get your application in early so you will not miss exploring some unknown destination.

How Far In Advance Should You Renew Your Passport?

Most countries require your passport to be valid for six months following your incoming flight?

That means that even though your passport may technically not be expired for the duration of your trip, you could still not be allowed to leave the country.

The Six Months Validity Rule is imposed by foreign countries, and not by the United States. It simply means that your passport should be valid for more than six months before you would be allowed to enter a foreign destination.

This rule is imposed by some of the countries I have listed below. (Visit Passports and International Travel for more countries who require the 6-month rule.

  • Albania
  • Angola
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Burma (Myanmar)
  • Burundi
  • China
  • Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast)
  • Ecuador (including the Galápagos Islands)
  • French Polynesia

Renew Your Passport Even if You Do Not Plan to Travel

You never know when the travel bug might hit you or you might win the lottery and who has time to be waiting around 60 days to get a passport after you have hit the mega millions?  

It’s always good to just know your passport is valid.

Also, a passport is an official proof of citizenship, and a great backup should you ever lose your driver’s license.

 I just lost my driver’s license two weeks ago flying to MN and I was able to use my passport as an ID and had I not had a passport I would not have been able to fly.

The Renewal Process for Children

“Remember the requirements for children are more stringent and the renewal process can be time-intensive for minors under 16.

Additional steps and materials required, including the child’s social security number and a DS-3053 Form that serves as a statement of consent from the minor’s parents.

Additionally, for those under 16, passport applications and renewals must be submitted in person.  

Keep in mind that passports for younger travelers are only valid for five years, so it’s important to budget enough time to get renewed before your next international trip with the kiddos.

TSA PreCheck: What’s The Cost and Do I Really Need It?

Now that you have your passport and you have started to knock destinations off of your bucket list one by one you know going through airport security can be a pain in you know what!

l am going to discuss the ins and outs of the TSA Precheck program and what it really means for you as a seasoned traveler.

What Is the TSA?

TSA’s main function is air travel security, which includes the administration of the screening process at airports.

Additional security measures including canine units and Federal Air Marshals are also employed by the TSA at airports.

What Is TSA PreCheck?

It is 1 of 5 trusted traveler programs, which also include Global Entry, SENTRI, and NEXUS. These 4 are intended for personal and business travelers, while the fifth program is for commercial trucking (FAST).

Unlike the other trusted traveler programs that are administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, TSA PreCheck is run by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The program was started in October 2011 and allows the TSA to expedite the security checkpoint process for low-risk travelers.

TSA Pre✓® Participating Airlines

  • Aerolane Lineas Aereas Nacionales del Ecuador
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Air Choice One
  • Air France
  • Air India
  • Air Serbia
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Alitalia
  • All Nippon Airways
  • Allegiant Air
  • American Airlines
  • Aruba Airlines
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian Airlines
  • Avianca
  • Azul Airlines
  • Boutique Airlines
  • Breeze Airways
  • British Airways
  • Brussels Airlines
  • Cape Air
  • Cathay Pacific Airways
  • China Airlines
  • Condor Airlines
  • Contour Aviation
  • Copa Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Eastern Airlines
  • Edelweiss Air
  • Elite Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • EVA Air
  • Finnair
  • Flycana
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Icelandair
  • InterCaribbean Airways
  • Interjet
  • Japan Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Key Lime Air
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
  • Korean Air
  • LAN Peru S.A.
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Norwegian Air
  • Omni Air International
  • PAL Express
  • Philippine Airlines
  • Porter Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Scandinavian Airlines
  • Seaborne Airlines
  • Silver Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southern Airways Express
  • Southwest Airlines
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Sun Country Airlines
  • Sunclass
  • Sunwing Airlines
  • Swift Air
  • Swiss International Air Lines
  • Swoop
  • TAM-Linhas Aereas S.A.
  • TAP Air Portugal
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Ultimate Jet Charters
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • VivaAerobus
  • Volaris
  • WestJet
  • World Atlantic
  • Xtra Airways

What Are The Benefits of TSA PreCheck?

After years of taking off your shoes to go through airport security, the most noticeable difference might be that you can finally just leave them on when using TSA Pre.

Additional perks include leaving on light outerwear and jackets, belts, and keeping laptops and small liquids in your bag.

Essentially, it makes having carry-on luggage a breeze as you won’t have to take everything you carefully packed into it back out to go through the security line!

These aspects of the program make the screening process much quicker, which is perhaps the best benefit of them all, especially on busy travel days.

Even with these perks, randomly selected travelers will still be pulled for extra screening, but the overall time through security will still be an improvement.

How Does The Program Work?

To use it, you first need to complete the membership application and approval process. If approved, your membership will be active for 5 years.

At this point, you will have to renew your membership if you wish to keep it.

Once you have completed the in-person appointment (assuming everything checks out), you will be notified, receive your Known Traveler Number, and become eligible to use the TSA PreCheck security lanes.

Before traveling, make sure you add your Known Traveler Number to your reservation to ensure you have access to TSA Pre.

Many airlines will allow you to do this online, but you can also call the airline to have your number added to your reservation.

You can also add this to your frequent flyer accounts so it will be automatically included when you book your flights.

If you notice that “TSA PreCheck” is not printed on your boarding pass or show on your mobile boarding pass, speak with the appropriate airline check-in desk for assistance.

It must be listed on your boarding pass, or you will not be allowed to access those security lanes.

What Credit Cards Reimburse the Application Fee?

As big fans of credit cards and the many travel benefits they provide, we want to share with you our recommended cards that will reimburse you for the application fee.

If you use one of the following cards to pay the $85 application fee, you will receive a statement credit. You could also use the following cards to be reimbursed for the $100 fee for Global Entry instead since it provides access to TSA Pre too.

Cardholders are eligible for the statement credit once every 5 years, which is the length of your TSA Pre or Global Entry membership.

Applying For TSA PreCheck

To apply, you must fill out an online application so the TSA can conduct a background check. You’ll have to include information such as citizenship, address, date of birth, and immigration documentation (if applicable).

Once you have finished your application, you will need to make an appointment at an enrollment center. There are over 380 enrollment centers located throughout the United States.

At your interview, you will be required to show a valid photo ID, proof of citizenship, and immigration documentation if applicable.

The interview is quick and mostly for verification. You can expect questions about yourself and your travel, and you will be fingerprinted during the process.

You will be notified of approval (or denial) within 2-3 weeks once the in-person interview is complete, but many people are approved within several days. During this time, you can check your status online.

Don’t wait to apply as in-person appointment slots can fill up quickly.

A Step-by-Step Application Walkthrough

If you’re looking for a quick rundown on the application process, we have you covered! Let’s dive right into it:

Step 1: Visit the TSA Pre Home Page

Once on the homepage, you need to click on the red “Apply Now” button in the middle of the page. This will bring you to the first page of the application, which asks for biographical information.

Step 2: Complete the Application

Step 3: Schedule Your In-Person Interview

The final piece of the application process is to select a location for your in-person interview. You will need to search for your location. The search results will show options near you and how many appointment slots are available in the next 45 days.

Step 4: In-Person Interview

Bring all the required documents. You will select which 2 forms of ID you will bring in the online application. This could be a driver’s license and a passport. If applicable, bring any required immigration documents as well.

You will also need to bring a credit card to pay the $85 fee. You could pay by cashier (or certified) check, but with so many credit cards that reimburse you for the fee, why would you?

Step 5: Wait for an Update

Most will be notified shortly after their appointment, but it can take a little over a month. Keep this in mind when planning a trip: you don’t want to leave your application and interview to the last minute!

Step 6: Add Your Known Traveler Number to Frequent Flyer Accounts

Once approved, you will be notified and provided your Known Traveler Number. Add this to your frequent flyer accounts so it is automatically included in your itineraries going forward.

Step 7: Use the Benefits

You can now use the TSA PreCheck security lanes at over 180 airports nationwide. Enjoy your expedited screening process experience!

TSA PreCheck vs. Global Entry

Global Entry provides expedited screening upon re-entering the United States from abroad. The program is administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency within the Department of Homeland Security.

If you are a member of Global Entry, you are provided access to TSA Pre. However, having a membership does not provide access to Global Entry.

The enrollment process is similar as each requires an application and in-person interview.

The Global Entry application is available online.

The fee for Global Entry is $100 but can be reimbursed by several credit cards and loyalty programs.

TSA PreCheck vs. NEXUS

NEXUS provides access to both Global Entry and TSA Pre. It is a joint program between the United States and Canada designed to allow more efficient travel between the 2 countries.

In addition, NEXUS provides expedited entry into Canada. Global Entry and TSA Pre members do not get this benefit.

The cost is only $50, which is a fantastic deal, but you will have to visit one of the enrollment centers located in select cities in the northern U.S.

TSA PreCheck vs. SENTRI

On the southern border of the United States, the SENTRI program provides similar benefits to that of NEXUS in the north. Members of the SENTRI program also receive access to Global Entry and TSA Pre.

To receive an expedited entry into Mexico, you are required to have a SENTRI membership, so again neither Global Entry nor TSA Pre on their own will be enough. Enrollment centers are located in Arizona, California, and Texas.


If you’re going to travel often, you definitely want to sign up for this program to make the security checkpoint process a little less painful!

With so many credit cards that will reimburse you for not only TSA Precheck but Global Entry as well, you might as well sign up for Global Entry if possible.

You get the same access to TSA PreCheck, and it will make your return to the United States much easier.

If you know you won’t travel outside of the U.S. for 5 years, though, perhaps you only need TSA PreCheck.

Whatever the case may be, think about enrolling in this program to save time and increase efficiency at the airport!

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  1. Very good tips you have here. It is definitely worth it to have your passport updated. Yes, a whole lot of countries want minimum 6 month validity. You also never know when you have an emergency that may require travel.

  2. I don’t have a passport, but I definitely need to get one. These are great tips. I never knew about the six months validity rule.

  3. Our family of 3 renewed/got new passports in 2015. I needed to change my name. My husband’s old passport expired and our 6-year-old needed his first passport.
    We got our photos taken for free at AAA, then applied in-person to make sure we had everything we needed.

  4. ahhh I needed this post last year!!! But you gave some great pointers. Funny thing is my friend and I did the application the same time. One us paid for it to be expedited, it didn’t matter. Both passports came within a week. I say we were lucky because if it was a last minute trip I’m not sure if we would have been so lucky.

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