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What to do if your passport is lost, stolen, or damaged abroad

Losing things while you’re travelling can be stressful, but when that lost item is your passport, it can disrupt your entire trip. We’ve put together this guide to help you navigate the steps to take if your passport is lost, stolen, or damaged outside of Canada.

So, you’re in another country, far from home and you realize your passport has been lost or stolen. What should you do next?

Step 1: Report the loss, theft, or damage to the nearest Government of Canada office abroad

You can make your report in person or over the phone. When you report your passport as lost or stolen at a consular office, you will be asked to confirm your identify and provide information about the circumstances of the loss or theft. Your passport will be cancelled immediately to prevent anyone from unlawfully using it.

Step 2: Apply for a replacement passport

This process is not a renewal, but an entirely new passport application. You will have to provide the following at the nearest consular office:

  • a completed application form, signed by your guarantor
  • two identical passport photos (one of which is signed by the guarantor)
  • an accepted proof of Canadian citizenship (this is typically a birth certificate, certificate of citizenship, or certificate of naturalization)
  • a document to prove your identity (ID issued by a federal or provincial/territorial government authority that includes your name, date of birth, photo, and signature)
  • the appropriate fees (passport fee and replacement fee)
  • a complete declaration concerning a lost, stolen, inaccessible, damaged, or found Canadian travel document

Full instructions are available here and consular staff should help guide you in completing the passport application process.

Step 3: Wait for local authorities to investigate

Before your passport can be replaced, local authorities will file a police report and investigate how it was lost or stolen. This process varies depending on location, so it could delay the processing of your replacement passport.

Step 4: Pick up your temporary or replacement passport

Depending on the situation, you will be issued a temporary or replacement passport and allowed to continue your trip.

What if my passport is damaged?

If you travel with a damaged passport, you could be turned away or face major delays. Border authorities can refuse your entry or exit and airlines may prevent you from boarding a plane. If you’re concerned about the condition of your passport, it’s a good idea to take it in to a consular office to have an official assess the damage.

A passport is considered damaged if it:

  • makes it difficult to identify the holder
  • looks like it has been changed or falsified
  • has previously been denied by an airline or at a point of entry due to damage

Examples of damage to a passport include:

  • removal of pages
  • unauthorized markings
  • tears in one or more pages
  • exposure to water or humidity
  • chewing marks from a child or pet
  • change of the information and/or photo
  • separation of the cover and inside pages
  • other forms of damage that aren’t listed here

The process for replacing a damaged passport is the same as it is for lost or stolen passports, so follow the steps above.

What if I have travel insurance?

This is just another reason to purchase travel insurance! Lost, stolen, or damaged passports can cost a lot of money in flight changes, additional nights in a hotel, and expenses. Many travel insurance policies (including the one we offer from Travel Guard) cover these expenses as part of their trip interruption coverage.

If you have travel insurance, make sure you contact your insurance provider to report your lost/stolen/damaged passport immediately. This will ensure that your additional costs are covered and their experienced staff can help you navigate the replacement process.

What should I do if I find my lost passport or someone else’s passport?

If you find a passport, including your own passport that you previously reported as lost or stolen, it must be returned to Passport Canada with a letter describing the circumstances surrounding its recovery. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to use your found passport because once a passport is reported as lost or stolen it cannot be re-validated or renewed. You’ll still need to apply for a new passport.

Keep your passport safe so you don’t lose the privilege of travel!

Besides the added expenses you might incur, there are even bigger penalties for people who lose or damage multiple passports. The Canadian government can make it more difficult for you to obtain a new passport, limit the validity of your passport, or even refuse future passport applications. So make sure to do everything in your power to keep that passport safe at home and on the road!

Here are a few tips to help keep your passport safe:

  • At home and while travelling you should keep your passport in a safe place away from children, pets, water, or anything else that could damage it. If you have a safe at home or in your hotel, that’s the best place for it. Do not leave it unattended in your luggage, vehicle, hotel or elsewhere.
  • Keep your passport in a waterproof protective case while traveling to keep it from accidentally being ripped, bent, or soaked (ask my husband about the time he accidentally took his passport river rafting!)
  • Scan/copy page 2 of your passport and email it to yourself or carry it with you (separate from your passport) and leave a copy with a trusted friend or relative at home.

We sincerely hope you never need to use this guide. But if you do, hopefully you’ll be prepared!


Written by: Pam Jensen