Okay Granted this happened a little over a month and a half ago. So let’s rewind. to
September 22nd 2014
I arrived back at my home stay from a long 8 hour red-eye bus ride from Seville to Madrid. I quickly exited the bus and grabbed my Osprey pack from the belly of the bus and rushed to catch a metro home. I was tired and had Spanish class in three hours. So I did what an college student does when I got home, I made us of those 3 hours and napped. Of course, I accidentally overslept and when I started to get ready I thought to myself: Sheesh I should really put my passport back in my nightstand draw so it doesn’t get lost. THAT’S WHEN IT HIT ME….My passport was nowhere to be found! Not in my wallet, money belt, or one of my Osprey 46L Porter’s many pockets. SHIT, That’s when I realized I had set it down on the seat of the bus on top of my purse as I ran to use the bathroom before we departed and I was so tired that I must have not put it back in and consequently it fell between the seats and I didn’t think twice. AND That is how I, Josie Parrish, lost her most beloved travel companion and scrapbook of stamps of my world wide travels for all my life. RIP To my original passport, you are forever missed.
So, I freaked out for a good 5 minutes and then I realized I had to do something about this. So, I tried to call Sociobus to ask about a possible returned passport which, I knew was unlikely. Given that they filled up our bus and sent it to a new destination after we exited. However, they didn’t answer so I took the metro by myself (Which at the time was a big step given at how easily I can get lost) and went to their counter with my questions/request translated into Spanish and did not receive anymore assistance than the phone number that I tried to call that didn’t work. STRIKE ONE.
Next plan? USA Embassy which I looked up directions too and am so thankful that my T-mobile phone has international text/data otherwise, I would have had to go back home to look up directions to go back out. Showed up at the embassy at like 2PM and their passport services were closed for the day, I was so devestated that I started to tear up when the woman who worked at the American embassy told me in Spanish (ironic, eh?) that I wasn’t allowed in and would have to come tomorrow.
You see my passport was so much more than a stack of papers or identification. It had the stamps from the first time I ever traveled outside the USA (Jamaica 2008). My travels from Belize in 2013 with my University. My most favorite VISA from Ghana, Exit/Entrance stamps from Tanzania with a holographic giraffe on my VISA, my funny Togo Visa that was stamped on and hand written, and my most recent Spain Student Visa. It was all gone and that hurt a little part of me. I try not to get to attached to my physical things because, most of the time they can be replaced and for whatever reason they weren’t meant to be. But, with my lost and then stolen passport it was so much more than replacing it. Those are stamps that I won’t be able to look at share with my family and friends when we open our passports before a new stamp or travel adventure awaits us. A blank slate and it was not the kind I was thrilled to be having.
I digress though. I want this blog post to help anyone who has lost their passport so let me tell you what getting an emergency passport looks like. I awoke the next morning bright and early to get my passport and show up at the embassy. Come with:
- A Pen
- Other forms of ID (State ID/Student ID/Birth Certificate)
- Payment (Cash or Card) I think the cost of mine was either 180 or 200 USA Dollars
- Passport photos (There was a passport photo booth outside of the embassy that gave you 4 photos for 5 Euro)
There are two different lines at least in the Madrid, USA Embassy for Nationals and people applying for VISAs to come to the USA. You will get a number and when they call it you go to the window and explain to them what happened for an official statement about your lost or stolen passport. Then you have to fill out some information for your emergency passport (Which will be ready for pick-up that same day) and wait some more. Honestly, it was much easier than I was expecting and compared to some of the people there my story was a piece of cake. Luckily, I only lost my passport. My credit cards, cash, driver’s license, purse…etc were still in tact. My vacation wasn’t ruined and the ladies were so helpful in extending my emergency passport so that I wouldn’t have trouble with my student visa and entering the country during my travels out of the EU. My passport was ready and I spent 9:00AM-12PM at the embassy.Not too bad. Going forward I have been dilligent about keeping my passport on my body at all times when traveling or in the hostel’s safe. No more playing games! Thanks to my fashionable money belt that makes it pretty easy and no matter how rushed I am, I take the extra 1 minute to safely secure and place my passport into it’s rightful place. It sucks having to learn a lesson the hard way but, I learned mine and I look forward to filling up this new passport with stamps of world wide travels. Also when
About the emergency passport: Once you get back to the USA you can send in your emergency passport with a passport photo and documentation given to you at the embassy and have a regular passport sent to your house and you can even request extra pages in your new one–free of charge! An emergency passport looks/works the same as a regular passport it’s just the pages inside are stamped with “Emergency Passport” Easy, eh?
Tips about Passports
- Always keep it on you! No matter how appealing that airplane seat pocket or train seat looks. PUT IT AWAY
- Email a copy of your passport to yourself, family, and friends that way you have backup
- Download the TurboScan application and scan your passport on your mobile phone
- Have multiple printed copies of your passport in various places as a safeguard
I found out at the USA embassy that most USA passports can be sold for at least 1000 dollars and so they are sold pretty quickly on the black market that’s why it’s important as soon as yours gets lost or stolen that you replace it. So that, the old passport will stop working and you don’t have to worry as much about identity theft.
LOVE- A scorned passport holder 😉