Having been an international traveler since 1984, it finally happened; I lost my passport.
It happened on my most recent trip to Italy–my 25th in fact–on the train between Venice and Mogliano about two weeks ago. Full disclosure: ‘lost’ isn’t exactly the operative word here. My passport was in a travel bag that I stowed on the shelf above my seat and then forgot when I disembarked. Only on the platform as I watched the train disappear did I realize that my bag with the passport in it was wending its way out of my life forever.
I’m pleased to say that getting a new passport was not nearly as traumatic as I had imagined it would be. So, slightly chagrined, I’m humbly passing along my newfound knowledge to you.
What to do when you lose your passport in Italy?
STEP 1: FACE IT
There is no such thing as a Lost and Found in Italy’s train or police stations so once it’s gone, best to accept the fact and go about getting a new one.
Here is the U.S. Government link http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/emergencies/lost-or-stolen-passports-abroad.html explaining what to do.
STEP 2: MAKE A POLICE REPORT* and GO TO THE PHOTO BOOTH
At the train stations in every major city, you can make a police report telling when and where your property was lost. Though this may seem futile, you never know … Then get your pictures. In the station there are photo booths where you can have passport-sized photos taken quickly and inexpensively.
STEP 3: GET THEE TO THE CONSULATE
The four American Consulates in Italy are located in Florence, Milan, Naples and Rome, each with a department for issuing new passports. They’re open Monday through Friday during regular business hours. Make an appointment by phone or in person. Bring your photo and $135 USD in cash or credit card. If you don’t have the cash in USD be sure to exchange euros for dollars beforehand.
In my case, I arrived without an appointment at the American Consulate in Florence just as they opened. They asked for ID, had me fill out a 3-page form, hand over the money and the photo and, in less than an hour, it was done. I walked out with a fresh new American passport good for a year and went on my merry way.
Precautionary Passport Measures in Italy
Here are a few ways of making sure the worse case lost passport scenario in Italy can be upgraded to a not-so-bad lost passport scenario in Italy.
STEP 1: COPY SMART
Stow a photocopy of your passport in the lining of every one of your bags. If you have a companion, put a copy into each of her/his bags as well. Scan and create a pdf of your passport and email it to yourself, and/or save it to “the cloud.” Also, carry a few passport-sized photos with you on every trip.
STEP 2: CARRY SMART
Put your credit cards, driver’s license and some cash in a separate wallet on your person and do not keep them where you keep your passport. Losing a passport is bad enough without losing everything else!
STEP 3: KNOW YOUR CONSULATES
Print out the list of American Consulate phone numbers and the U.S. Gov. website with you. If your phone gets lost as well, you’ll be grateful for the printout. Log on to: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/emergencies/lost-or-stolen-passports-abroad.html.
To be sure, there is never a convenient time to lose your passport. But if it should happen, it’s not the end of the world. You won’t be the first person to whom this has happened, and you certainly won’t be the last. And now you know what to do, just in case!
* P.S. Miraculously, my passport was found and turned in to the police office in the Venice train station about a week after I returned home.