Passport And International Travel
At home you may be asked to show a copy of your water or light bill. In some cases you may be asked to show your birth certificate, but when you are over seas, it’s your passport that tells people you are who you say you are.
If it’s never happened to you before, the strangest feeling you will ever have is when you’re questioned about your citizenship. All your life you have grown up in your birth country. You were taught civics in school and how to respect and care for your Country, so it is ingrained that it is a part of your identity. You don’t question it and you never expect anyone to do so either. But then comes that day when you cross over the border onto another country and sometime during the trip you are asked for your identifying papers.
“No big deal.” you think. You hand the papers to the person who you think is an official and wait for him to inspect the book. He picks the book you are offering him, to compare the photo with your in-person presence. Then in a blink of an eye a group of other people turn the corner and interrupt the inspection or a person bumps you from behind, and before you realize it the “official” is gone and so is your passport.
At first you panic and feel violated that someone would steal from you. Then you feel embarrassed that you even thought for one instance that the guy who ask you for the passport was even an official.
No Passport No Travel
Passports are a hot commodity in the black markets within many countries, especially the countries that the US State Department has reduced the number of allotted visas to. Native citizens with that country’s passport find it very difficult to travel outside of their country. That’s because many countries that may not be advanced or developed don’t have the resources or systems in place to conduct proper background checks or verification protocols, so they rely on the policies of more advanced countries to determine whether or not people from a certain country can their own. So if you aren’t allowed into the USofA or the UK, or France, etc then you aren’t allowed into their country either.
These stolen passports are “re-engineered” with another photo and maybe another name so that the presenter can enter another country without having to get a passport from their homeland. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that the person engaging in the passport fraud is a terrorist, but it’s not something we as travelers should facilitate.)
What To Do
For your good and the safety of others, you must first return to your hotel or go directly to your consulate if you are traveling abroad.
- Make a police report.
- Request the police report number.
- Report the stolen or missing passport to the Embassy or consulate.
- Request a replacement passport.
You’ll Need a Few Things
There are a few things you will be asked for in order to replace your passport. The first, and the best document you can provide the officials from the Embassy or the Consulate is a copy of the passport.Take a picture of your passport and put it online, for easy recovery.Click To Tweet
If you don’t have a copy of the passport you will be asked for a copy of your birth certificate or other document that may confirm your citizenship.
You will also be asked to provide a photo for the replacement passport. I would suggest 2 photos and these can be taken locally or you can have a couple made beforehand and have them stashed away in your luggage.
Finally, you will be asked for your itinerary. This serves to further confirm that you are who you say you are and in the Country normally. (You can also use tickets, or ticket stubs with your name on them.)
Avoid The Issue
There are several ways to avoid being a victim of passport theft. The simplest way is leave your passport in the room safe and take a photocopy of your passport with you for identification purposes.
If you have your passport on your person you must be aware of your surroundings. In other words, you must be aware of the people around you and your location. You should be asking yourself, “Am I in a place where I can be an easy target?” If so, you should leave or do something that would make you less likely to be a target. If you are approached by someone who claims to be an government officer and asks for your passport, I suggest you tell the “Officer” that you would be happy to show him the passport “…that you have in your hotel.” Don’t how anyone your passport outside on the street or sidewalk.
The other thing you can do is to hide the passport. I’ve seen a scarf that has a hidden pocket for passports, documents and money. You can also use a money belt with a large enough pocket for the passport.