One of the worst things that can happen when you’re traveling is losing or having your passport stolen! My situation was a little different than a typical lost passport scenario. During early May, two months before my Study Abroad was scheduled to begin, you won’t believe, the UPS mailing service lost my passport!
How did it all happen? Well, as an international student I required Schengen and UK visas. I started my visa processes way ahead in time. If you have to go through some extra steps, make sure you plan ahead. It’s important to keep a buffer time to be able to work around unforeseen situations which can arise.
“The courier service declared my package lost!”
I was willing to pay that extra fee and choose a reputed mailing service to send my sensitive documents (including my passport) to the VFS consulate in New York. It was a one day air service however two days later, upon tracking it I realized that the tracking status wasn’t updated. I inquired about it and my case went under investigation. Eight days later, the courier service declared my package lost! It was a real nightmare scenario!
Such instances can disrupt your mood and travel plans, but remember that such things are part of your travel experiences. Be calm and think of next steps rather than dwelling and regretting on a situation that has already occurred.
Whether in a similar situation or in a foreign country while studying abroad, one of the first things you should do is find the nearest police station and file an official report. Next, contact the nearest embassy. As advised, gather all the necessary supporting documents and get your replacement passport! Sounds simple? Mine was a little more complicated than this as I was not in my hometown..
What did I do to resolve my situation? Firstly, I cried my eyes out! Once I felt much calmer I contacted Drexel Police and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC. Because I am not a US citizen, losing my passport in an international country and getting a replacement passport was going to be harder! It would take 2-3 months to get an original passport which meant I would have to CANCEL my study abroad plans. I was distressed and unhappy!
I did have one last option. I was relieved! With a one time emergency passport I would be able to travel back to my hometown and get a new passport made in just a day! With enough time to spare, this is the option I opted for. I arrived in D.C, not to miss their typical scooters, I took a fun ride on the scooter all the way to the Sri Lankan Embassy and got my emergency passport in just a few hours. A week later, I flew back home, got my new passport, re-did my visa applications and with enough time to spare, I finally made it to France on June 1 ready for more adventures. This one was only the beginning!
P.S. Always remember to keep a copy of all your official documents when you are away from home (such as your passport, visa page, identity card and birth certificate). Having a digital backup for all your official IDs is also a good idea!
Guess what? To receive an emergency passport I needed my birth certificate or identity card to prove that I was Sri Lankan. I didn’t have a copy of it with me! This further complicated the process and added to the big headache!