In 2018, an Indian traveling to the USA lost his passport and took to social media to ask for help from a renowned Indian politician, who helped the stranded Indian to book the USA to India flights without a passport. The person was to attend a wedding back home. She (political leader) contacted the Indian embassy to assist the person in getting back to India in time for a wedding, his own! But, not all of us are that lucky. Passport is the single most important article that validates your identity in foreign lands. In fact, a passport is a key that open doors for international travel.
Losing your passport overseas can be a bittersweet experience. Boarding flights to India or any other country without this instrument is almost impossible. However, do not panic as there is always a way out. So, if you are an Indian who has lost their passport in the USA, this post is for you. The article also lists some precautions that will help other readers in a similar situation.
Preparing for Contingencies
Being prepared for contingencies is foremost. We can take convenient precautions that help in case of a lost passport. It doesn’t matter if you are on board for a business-trip or flying for a fun vacation, there are some thumb rules of traveling. Going away from home calls for an extra-careful attitude, so make sure you are prepared. There are a few precautions that go a long way and save you a lot of trouble. Since preparation is half the battle won, follow the below-listed Rules of Thumb for Traveling!
- ID Proof: While traveling overseas, especially ensure that you carry some identification proof of yourself. Be it Aadhar Card, PAN Card, Voter ID, etc, as long as you have it, you will be entertained anywhere on the planet. They are also potential life-saviors.
- Hard Copy: Keep a hard copy (Photostat, Scanned Photocopy, etc) of your passport, visa, and other important travel documents.
- Soft Copy: Do not have a hard copy? Don’t worry, you must be carrying a smart-phone with a camera, utilize it. If not, then make sure to equip yourself with at least one smart-gadget. Click photos of your passport and visa. Make sure you fit all the essential details like name, address, photo, etc. into the frame.
- Save on Multiple Platforms: Save the photos in all the devices that you are carrying with yourself, such as laptops, tablets, flash drives, etc. And also email them to your ID. This ensures smooth, secure and sure access to your travel documents.
- Click Lots of Photographs: A photo is worth a thousand words, so turn the time-stamp on and start documenting your travel experience in the forms of photos and videos. The time-stamp will help you keep track of things, as well as time. Apart from capturing the memories, they sometimes capture leads too.
If you ever lose your passport in the USA, do report it to the local police. You can even file your complaint online by visiting the official government website.
While filing your complaint, bear these points in mind and share them with the authorities:
- When was the last time you remember having the passport?
- Make a note of all the places, spots, etc. that you have visited during your trip.
- Inform about the areas where you might have lost the passport.
- Go through your photos.
There’s a fair amount of possibility that someone might have already found it and turned it over to the police officials.
Indian Consulate or Embassy
If the police authorities are unable to find your passport, the next advisable step is to get in touch with the Indian Embassy to help you book flights to India. Report the matter and apply for a replacement. A Replacement passport like Tatkal passport or emergency or temporary passport will help you in getting back home without legal troubles. It will be like a regular passport, so, don’t lose heart while dealing with such situations.
Apply for Replacement: Log on to the Indian Embassy to apply for a ‘Tatkal passport’ and follow the procedure. The price for the application is about three hundred and seventy-five dollars. You will receive your replacement passport within two weeks after the start of the procedure. Documentation involved in the process of applying for a duplicate passport may include:
- Passport Application Form, make sure it is duly signed.
- A copy of a Police Report.
- Photocopies of the passport lost. (Front, as well as backside)
- A photocopy of the Air tickets.
- Photocopy of the Visa.
- A personal application that states the reason for application of duplicate passport.
Locate a Notary: Locate an authorized notary in your area. Notarizing identification proofs is necessary too, in order to attest the validity of the document. If you are carrying any other Valid ID like Driver’s License, etc.
Documents: The person with a lost/stolen passport must possess some documents that validate your identity. Proof of present address, date of birth and an affidavit containing details pertaining to how and when the passport was lost, must be presented to the embassy. Also, provide the embassy with a copy of the police report. Next step is to send the required documents to Washington DC, where the Indian Embassy is located.
Note: Make sure the documents and application are error-free and the address on the mail order is accurate.
The United States Consulate
In the process of replacement or retrieving of passport, you would also have to provide The United States Consulate with the details of your lost passport. This will ensure that the Consulate is updated on the matter. Another benefit of informing the US consulate is that it will help in tracking your passport and most importantly, prevent Identity Theft or other misuses of your passport.
Unlike the passport, a visa is not replaceable from the destination country, itself. You will be permitted to stay in the country for as long as authorized. That means Indians with F1 type visa would have to come back to India and then, apply for the visa replacement, since, F1 visa type facilitates entry into the United States of America. You may be asked for an I-94 number, which can be obtained from the official I-94 website.
Yes, losing a passport in a foreign land is not a pleasant experience. And, no, it is not the end of the world. You can still board the USA to India flights, as there is always a solution but only if you stay composed. Save the soft copies of the essential documents like passport and visas in your phone, and also secure the hard copies in a folder. Inform everything clearly to the authorities, especially the local police, Indian Embassy, and the United States Consulate. This is going to expedite the process of finding your passport. You can also notify your travel insurance provider as they can cover the cost of the loss. Always be in touch with your family back home, keep them updated.