Problem Solved: Lost Passports

National Geographic Traveler Editor at Large Christopher Elliott is the magazine’s consumer advocate and ombudsman. Over the past 15 years he has helped countless readers fix their trips.

Here’s his latest advice:

Reader Question: I’m an American who has lost my passport in Buenos Aires. Now what?

My Answer: Take a deep breath, and know that you’re in good company. Some 300,000 Americans lose their passports or get them stolen every year.

First, report the loss to your nearest embassy or consulate. Doing so renders your passport unusable, and then you can apply for a new one. Americans will need a passport photo, an ID, evidence of their U.S. citizenship, a travel itinerary, and a police report if available.

By the way, here’s where having a copy of your old passport can help (I use Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, so a digital copy is easily accessible from anywhere); it can quickly satisfy many of the requirements.

Now all you have to do is wait. It takes between 24 and 48 hours for your emergency passport, which is valid for up to a year. That’s plenty of time to take in a few of the sights in Argentina’s capital.

Christopher Elliott is Traveler magazine’s consumer advocate and pens the “Problem Solved” column for the magazine (this exchange appeared in the August/September 2014 issue). Follow Christopher’s story on Twitter @elliottdotorg.

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