Monday, December 14, 2015

when you lose your passport abroad


it's been well over a year since I've lost my passport in SE asia, and now I can truly laugh about it. makes for a good story, definitely! as you can see on the photo, the entire experience was pretty rough, haha.. but maybe I can help somebody else with my knowledge.

my story
I lost the purse with my passport and both bank & credit card at the beach on ko tao island, thailand.. as I returned to look for it after only 2 damn minutes, the tide had already set in.. nevertheless, I did spend close to 3 hours wading through the ocean looking for it. fun fact: a diving school contacted me via facebook about a month later stating they found it!

prevention: don't lose it
I'm ashamed now to admit, but I thought the safest place for my passport would be on me. just no. always leave your passport in your suitcase/backpack at your accommodation. even better: a safe. don't take it with you if you don't need to identify yourself.

prevention: what to bring
this wasn't planned, but I accidentially packed my drivers license. I left it in my bag all the time, as mentionned above, and it made the entire process of getting an emergency passport a lot easier. I also had some passport photos with me, originally intended for visas.

prevention: copies
I copied the shit out of my passport and hid those everywhere - bags, shoes, jackets.. and I saved a scan of it in my e-mail draft folder. there I also had a file with all the emergency numbers (embassy, card block hotline, etc.)

difference: stolen or lost
if you have a proper insurance, they cover the costs if your documents are stolen, not so much if they're simply lost. I would never lie - but I'll just leave this little piece of information here.

passport gone - what now?
  1. verify it's really gone. maybe misplaced, mixed up, left it somewhere? make sure you look for it everywhere, as that is still the easiest way. 
  2. if you have a fake name on facebook, make sure to change it in time so you can easily be found/contacted in case it got found! the setting is called "alternate name" in the general section.
  3. call your embassy. they usually have a 24-hour hotline and ask what they need. they will instruct you what to do/bring and their opening hours are of importance as well!
  4. as I had photos and another form of identification (passport copy AND license), the first thing was to go to the local police station and report it either as stolen or lost. if you don't have a copy, maybe find a boarding ticket or something with the number on it, at least.
  5. make your way for the embassy asap. accidents can happen, traffic or other delays.. don't push your luck! plan in enough time to travel to the embassy, to have your passport made and the distance to the immigration office (if needed).
  6. at the embassy, have all your documents and photos ready, as well as the cash for the passport. even though you might be in a cheap country like thailand, you still have to pay the normal rate for your passport, which is around € 75 for austria.
  7. it takes around 3-4 hours to prepare your passport, and then you still have to go to the immigration office (if a visa was in use), which might be in a completely different part of town! make sure you also check here with your embassy, so you don't miss their opening hours.
  8. the immigration office in bangkok is HUGE and confusing. there's even a mall inside with copy shops etc. which means you have to make your own copies if needed. you need to fill in a form where you stated when you arrived in the country and how long your visa would have been valid (check with your friends here or boarding passes). they don't really speak a lot of English there so when they handed me back my passport I wasn't convinced everything was ok yet...
  9. flights with online check in: this might be a no-brainer, but I wasn't sure which passport number to put down when checking in online. hint: it's the new one from your emergency passport!
  10. airport: at our layover in dubai, the staff wanted to see another form of identification before boarding again which made my heart drop, obviously. but after seeing my driver's license they let me pass. at arrival in munich I got some dark looks from passport control but I didn't mind being judged for "losing my passport in thailand - how cliché" - I was still wearing my flowery travel hat, haha.

2 comments:

  1. These tips are great! Definitely will keep them in mind.

    PS.: I love the photo! =)

    ReplyDelete
  2. haha thank you, didn't smile a lot in those 48 hours prior to that photo!

    ReplyDelete