Last night, I was packing for my second-year spring break of Italy, Greece (!), and Albania. I was relaxing, hotly anticipating my first travels in six weeks. As I check in online, I realised I forgot a number on my passport, which is strange since I usually have it memorised. I reach toward where I usually have my passport, and it wasn’t there! “No problem,” I thought. I probably left it in my bag I took to Iceland, or in the coat since I haven’t worn it since then. It’s not in either of those places.
Alarmed, I search my entire room like an FBI agent trying their hardest to find something incriminating against a prime suspect, but nothing was found. When I panic, I don’t become hyperactive and cue the dramatics (anymore), but I just shut down instead. I was thinking a word a minute, and I felt my body triple in weight, every step feeling more sluggish with time.
“I have a flight in 12 hours! What am I going to do?!” I kept thinking to myself
I had read that I can get an emergency passport if I go to the US Consulate, but it can take up to two business days. The first three days of my trip are in Milan with one group of friends; I thought I was going to have to cancel on them. Needless to say, I felt humiliated.
Thankfully, however, I had read stories online of people getting it the same day, so I decided to test my luck. And thankfully, the Good Lord Above was on my side and I got my emergency temporary passport in just an hour!
Even right now I am absolutely mystified as to where it is since I haven’t touched it since returning from Iceland. And to be honest, I’m devastated that I lost it. I was due to replace it anyway as I was on my last page, but my passport held such a significant sentimental value to me; I felt like it encapsulated my entire uni experience in a unique way souvenirs or pictures can’t capture. Passports capture that very first moment you step into a country: each stamp brought such a rush of glee and excitement as I was cleared to explore a new country. I remember almost crying tears of joy when Japanese immigration stamped my passport, because I, quite literally, got that stamp of approval to go to my dream country. I remember looking at my Cuban stamp in disbelief. I was so close to filling my passport, but it just didn’t happen. Ultimately, I can’t control what happens, all I can control is how I react and how I can learn from this.
My own confusions and ramblings aside, this post is directed toward those who need to know how to get an emergency US Passport abroad, same-day.
- Print and fill in the DS-64 and DS-11 forms from the embassy website. Use black ink
- Get two passport photos, 2”x2” or 5cm x 5cm. Thankfully, I still had two photos from my Vietnamese visa!
- Go to your nearest US consulate 30 minutes before it opens. You want to make sure you’re the first person in line. In the morning, there’s usually only one worker and you don’t want to waste your time waiting, and that time can build up very fast. Get there as early as you can. Thankfully, I was the only person in that entire morning, but this is a very rare occurrence.
- Give the forms to the worker, pay the $145 fee. My consulate in Edinburgh only accepted cards, but I would bring both just in case. This pays for your temporary and new passport.
- In my experience, the entire process, from entering the door to walking out, took just one hour. They said just the actual passport process alone would take an hour, but it took around 20 minutes. I read one who got theirs from the Consulate in Lima, Peru, within six hours. This will vary depending on how busy your US Consulate is.
- They will give you a form for when you’re done using your emergency passport. When you no longer need it, mail this form along with your emergency passport to the Embassy back in the US to exchange it for your new passport.
- This passport will be valid for a year and hold 5 pages worth of stamps.
- Your new passport, with standard processing times, should arrive in 2-4 weeks.
This year’s been a strange one for me travel-wise: I lost my debit card in Bangkok, my flight to Iceland nearly got cancelled because of an unprecedented snowstorm, and now my passport just disappeared. But I know that travel isn’t all perfect and calm, and I’m strangely happy to have encountered my first real travel issues this year, I feel like I’ve had my rite of passage as a seasoned traveler, now that I’ve had anxiety from travel-related issues. Isn’t travel great?!
All jokes aside, travelling is amazing, but you can’t expect every trip to go smooth, and that’s why I’m here writing this guide; if you’re ever in my situation (which I hope you never are) you know exactly what to do. Now, if you haven’t thought about your passport, make sure you know where it is, check up on it!