How to Safeguard Your Travel Documents

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Losing your passport while traveling will definitely impact your plans. Here’s how to safeguard travel documents to ensure that any disruption is minimized.

Safeguard Travel DocumentsMake copies (paper and electronic)

Start to safeguard travel documents before you leave on your trip. Make at least two paper copies of your passport. You should copy the information page and, if applicable, the visa page for the country that you’re visiting. Leave one copy with someone back home.

Keep another copy on you but separate from the passport. Consider exchanging a third copy with a travel companion. Finally, scan a copy as a JPG or PDF file and email it to yourself. If you use a cloud-based email service (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.), you’ll be able to retrieve it from any computer.

This goes for any other documents you need while traveling, such as birth certificate, marriage certificate, or prescriptions for medication.

Safeguard Travel Documents from damage

Loss or theft is a top concern. We often don’t think about documents getting wet, dirty, or torn. Slip your passport into a small, re-sealable plastic bag to keep it safe.

Keep Your Passport On You

When traveling, keep your passport on you at all times. Be vigilant in crowded spaces. Carry it in a front pocket or travel wallet. If you’re leaving your hotel room but not the hotel (like going to the pool, for example), lock it in the room safe.

Report Lost or Stolen Documents Immediately

If your passport is lost or stolen, report it to the local police as soon as possible. Make sure you get a copy of the police report. Ask for a letter from the police confirming that you’ve reported the loss. Take these documents and your photocopy of your passport to the nearest embassy or consulate from your home country.

Your lost passport is an emergency to you. It is likely not an emergency to the embassy. 

The consular services at an embassy operate normal business hours. Don’t expect them to crank up the wheels of government on a weekend or holiday. You may have to call or make an appointment. Embassies can issue replacement passports, but the process may take a few days (or weeks), depending on where you’re from and where you are.

For additional tips on travel documents, check out the U.S. State Department website.

Read Travel With Kids to learn how to have a better family travel experience.

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