Your passport is one of your most prized possessions, if not the most prized possession particularly when you travel abroad. However, what happens if you lose your passport in another country? Losing it could prove costly, as you would be unable to board international flights, worse still, if you were ever to get into trouble overseas, proving your identity as well as country of origin becomes almost impossible. Thus the need for a lost passport replacement.
Passport loss might not be of your making as a number of things outside your control could lead to the loss of your international passport. In my case, my car was broken into while I was in a meeting and the assailant made away with my briefcase which contained my laptop, some cash and some valuable documents one of which was my passport. At the time, I had just received my visa to travel to Italy for a business conference, this became impossible to do.
The question is what do you do when your international passport gets lost whether in your home country or overseas? Before writing this article, I did some research to find the solutions to the challenge already out in the public domain. I discovered that most people were still confused on the necessary steps to take when this happens to them. In the next few paragraphs, I’m going to show you ways in which a lost passport can be handled if it were ever to happen to you.
Common Misconceptions About Lost Passport Replacement
A year after my passport got stolen, it expired. Would you blame me for thinking the best way to handle the situation of a stolen passport was paying for a brand-new one? Well, this was what I did. I rang up an immigration officer I knew in Abuja, the federal capital city of Nigeria and asked for the cost of getting a new passport, instead of a lost passport replacement, she quoted the sum and I transferred it to the immigration service account and sent my proof of payment to her.
She requested for my national identification number and that was it. I was scheduled for a data capture 2 weeks later. Being a smart Nigerian, I showed up some minutes late, looking sharp. Did my data capture, was told that the passport was going to be ready in a month’s time. That should have been the end of the matter, right? Wrong! You couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
2 weeks after my data capture, I got a call from my contact in the Nigerian Immigration Service. Boy was she angry, according to her, they were trying to get my passport done, but the system prompted them that the data being entered already existed. Her question to me was if I had been issued a passport in the past? My response was in the affirmative, but it was a case of a stolen passport which had now expired. Thus, my need to get a new one, again instead of a lost passport replacement.
I pride myself as being intellectually sound, but I couldn’t have felt more clueless when I was told that lost passport is treated differently from brand new passport issuance. Both are treated by 2 different departments. Both bear different surcharges. Having worked in an embassy myself, I had an inkling as to how these matters were handled, but was too mentally lazy to be bothered with following the right channel.
So I decided to play a fast one, but it back fired. I eventually had to follow the right channel, this entailed paying a lost passport replacement fee. When asked about the fee paid previously, I was told that it was nonrefundable, since its payment did not qualify for the original intent. That money was gone.
The Right Way To Handle Lost Passport Replacement
From Your Home Country
You will have to get a police extract, which shows that the incident of theft or loss of a valuable possession has been reported to your neighborhood police station. The police extract will then have to be taken to a magistrate court, where the court clerk will issue a court affidavit to you. Bear in mind that each stage in this process has a cost attached to it and if you are in Nigeria, then you know greasing palms is the only way things get done quickly.
With your newly obtained police extract and court affidavit, you now have to go back to the immigration service, where you will be prompted to pay a lost passport replacement fee of N40,000 (Nigerian Naira) for a 35-sheet booklet or N80,000 for an 80-sheet booklet. It’s worth mentioning that, to avoid the hassle of going out to obtain a police extract and a court affidavit, you could pay extra and have an official of the immigration Service handle this on your behalf. This was what I did.
Upon meeting the basic requirements, you will be directed to do your data capture, this is usually done when the documents from the police and court are ready, together with the appropriate payment. You mind ask; ” how long to replace lost passport?” After data capture, a waiting period ensues, normally between 1 to 3 months.
Whenever your lost passport replacement is ready, you will receive a text message informing you that your renewed lost passport is due for pickup. You could pay for speed delivery from the start, in order to avoid the hassle of driving to the immigration service office for passport collection.
The procedure while overseas in handling a case of lost passport is quite different. If you are in a foreign country for the purpose of studies, then your first line of action when you seek to report a lost passport is to pay a visit to the international student office, who will take it upon themselves to offer you representation with the police as well as your country’s embassy or high commission as the case may be.
When this is done, your country’s high commission/embassy books an appointment in which a lost passport replacement requirement will be demanded of you, which entails having you present key documents that identifies you as a citizen of the claimed country. Once this preliminaries are dispensed with, your lost passport UK or lost passport Australia depending on the country in which you are studying in will be replaced. There is usually a lost passport fee involved in this setup.
If you traveled to the foreign country in question to work or for vacation, then you will have to report lost passport by lodging a complaint in the nearest police station. Even though your passport could have been misplaced, there’s also a chance that it could be a case of a stolen passport and if there’s a likelihood that this might be the case, it has to be reported as soon as possible.
When this has been lodged with the police, your next line of action is to report lost passport to your embassy or high commission. Usually what happens is the cancellation of the missing passport and issuance of a new one. There are lost passport replacement requirements, protocols that must be observed.
For instance, the old one has to be cancelled so that in event that it is a case of a stolen passport, it becomes useless to the thief, rendered null and void. This procedure comes at a cost and must be stressed that its not free of charge. However, in event of a lost passport while overseas and after a careful search proved abortive, these are the sequence of events that have to be engaged.
From the foregoing, it becomes obvious that the process of replacing a lost passport is easier overseas and more seamless, than doing it locally. This is particularly true if you are a Nigerian. Even though there are tremendous cost implications involved in getting this done locally, it is not advisable to apply for a brand-new one when a lost passport replacement will suffice. In my case, the system declined this request.
However, even if it accepted it, would you be comfortable knowing that you have duplicate bio-data with the immigration service? What if your duplicate data gets in the wrong hands and is used to commit a crime? Following the laid down due process of reporting a lost passport is thus the best way to go about getting a replacement to avoid future regrets.
What do you think? Which of this methods do you think is the easiest approach to remedying a lost or stolen passport? I had to pay twice to get one lost passport replaced. What is the situation like in your country as regards to reporting a lost passport?