Paris. February 2016.
Ever since I can remember I have had one consistent dream: to go to the city of lights and love. Last February that dream can true, but with a twist. It didn’t have a fairytale ending. My friends and I planned the perfect weekend in Paris and a day trip to Versailles.
It started off a little rough; I had to get up at 3am to catch the 6am train from London to Paris, but no complaints along the way. It was worth it. When I got into Paris, we went straight to Versailles for the day and then back to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle by dinner. The only time we weren’t on our feet was when were on the metro or eating. The day flew by so we tried to spend as much time sitting by the Eiffel Tower and taking in it’s beauty.
I mean, we were in Paris!
After sitting under the Tower and making our plan for the next day, we made our way to the metro to go back to our Airbnb for the night. It was late, we were tired, and that’s where it all went wrong.
It was late, and we let our guard down, and we were so close to our destinations, we stopped for once second and didn’t pay attention to our surroundings. That voice was in the back of my head say, “Something isn’t right. Why is that lady in line twice?” But I was so tired and could already see myself in bed, so I just shook it off and carried on.
While we went through the turnstile for the metro, a friend saw the woman try to “come through behind me” but the bar stopped her. When my friend caught up to me and told me what she saw, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach.
She robbed me. She stole something. She pick-pocketed me.
It is the worst feeling. I had no idea what to do, where to go, or how to react.
But we adapted and we learned.
So now, I am passing on what I have learned about having your passport stolen, to you.
You can only plan for so much, and planning for disaster is usually not one of them. So where do you even begin when you are in the middle of your adventures abroad and disaster sticks?
When it comes to your passport there a few precaution steps you want to take before you leave - for the never wanted, cross your fingers, and pray to every God - kind of just in case. It helps to have a few copies of documents with you while you are traveling in a documents folder. While it is nice to have them saved in a folder on your phone, you can’t take your phone into the Embassies/Consulates.
You want to have copies of:
Travel Visa (if needed)
List of Contacts (since you wont’ have you phone in the Embassy, so it’s nice to have number written down just in case)
Copy of Birth Certificate
Trip Itinerary (with Contacts and address of your tours / where you are staying)
Tip: Keep copies in a folder on you at all times and keep a folder with copies locked up in your hotel room.
Us Embassies & Consulates App - This app is hands down amazing and I totally recommend downloading it before any trip out of the country. It has all of the Embassies and Consulates addresses, phone numbers, and hours programed in it so all you have to do is click on the country and nearest city you need.
Surviving and Thriving in the Aftermath after it Happens:
While there isn’t much the police are going to be able to do (I am so sorry, not what you ever want to hear!), pick-pocketing and theft are common crimes, it is still important to go and fill out a police report so you can take it with you to the Embassy. You will need it as proof to file at the Embassy for a temporary passport since they cannot issue you a new “full” passport.
As the sad saga continues, you will want to go to a bank and have some money with you to pay for a new passport. A stolen/lost passport fee is $110USD. If you forget, you can withdraw money at an Embassy, but the exchange rate will be incredibly high. You will also want some extra money ($5-10USD for new passport photos, food money, and a little spare).
*If you have credit cards, I'm sure they will take that. I was in quite the pinch, and honestly don't remember, all I had was cash. My credit cards, ID, passport, the little cash I had, and just about everything you need were taken. I had some amazing souls get me by.
You can get passport photo at the Embassy when you get there, but if it makes you nervous and you can get them in a souvenir/travel shop before you go.
When you go to the Embassy, try to go first thing in the morning when it opens and go fifteen minutes early. There will be a line, but because you are a citizen of the Embassy and your passport was stolen, you can go to the front and skip the line. You will need to show any ID you have, or the copies, and the police report.
When you get in, you will go through “airport security” and only take in the essentials. Your documents folder, police report, money, and new passport pictures (if you have them).
The rest is just your basic paper work, waiting game, and paying for your new passport. When you get your new passport, it will be a “temporary passport”, good for traveling up to six months. When you return home you will send your temporary passport in and they will send you your new full passport. Since you paid for your passport at the Embassy, you just have to fill out some paper work, send in new passport photos, and send it in!
I hope you never have to go through this process, but if you do…
Just breathe, don’t worry, and it will all be okay.
Take it from someone who knew nothing and learned it on the go.
xx A Traveler’s Bliss
(hey - hey you. click the bliss above... do it.)