Yes. It can happen. And it did.
I had my passport stolen in Argentina in 2005.
Fretting and panicking is not an uncommon reaction, and I admit, I went there.
Having experienced a stolen passport, (on New Year’s Eve day nonetheless) my advice is to stay calm, and know that your home Embassy is equipped to handle the situation.
Blaming yourself or others for the loss doesn’t help at all, but going into solution mode does.
My passport was in a holder that had a small amount of emergency cash.
Thieves might be more interested in the cash than in the passport and dump non-cash items (including the passport).
Fueled by the possibility of finding it, my group and I looked in every trash can in a 2 block perimeter and found the holder, but the cash and the passport were gone. At that point, the hope quickly faded.
Nevertheless, we continued looking in trash cans for another hour until we finally gave up the search.
A Visit to the Embassy
An Embassy is basically a country’s official soil footprint and “Citizen-Zone” in a foreign country. This means that you will have priority entrance and access to assistance.
There was a line of over 100 non-citizens that I was able to bypass and head straight through to the replacement passport processing desk.
At the time, the Embassy greatly appreciated the paper copies and immediately took them to the administrative department for processing.
My case was expedited and my passport was replaced within 48 hours.
Since this was quite some time ago, paper copies were the norm back then. Fast forward and now you can access documents and photos of your passport on an app or with photos on your phone.
To avoid this from happening again, I am now making sure I do the following.
Unless I need it, keep my passport in a room safe or another secure place.
Take only the cards and cash I will need for that day, and keep the others in the safe or a secured area.
Use a hidden wallet that will make it more challenging for would-be thieves. You can take a look at our favorite here.
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