What to do if you misplace your passport (and visa!) two weeks before you travel (a short list and a story)

January 25, 2018

 

Lost your passport and visa right before you are scheduled to travel? Here's how to replace them;

 

1. Two recent passport-sized photos and not the same ones on your old passport and visa unless you got them both in the past six months

 

2. If you have a photo of your old passport and visa, put it into your "favorites" on your phone so you can easily find it

 

3. Your driver's license or ID

 

4. Original documents you used to apply for your visa

 

5. 195.00 for the rush passport and 115.00 for the visa

 

What to do;

 

1. Go to the passport office. Fill out a new passport application form and wait. 

 

2. Give the person helping you the passport photo, your filled-out form, payment, and show them the photo, if you have it, of your old passport. They'll tell you to come back the next day after 3:00pm

 

3. Once you've picked up your new passport, if it's before 12:30pm, bring all of your original documents you used to apply for your visa and head over to the French Consulate. Plead with the security guard. You'll be told to wait. 

 

4. Give the person who helps you whatever documents they ask for from your folder, show them the photo of your misplaced visa, and give them your new passport and your payment

 

 

5. Wait. They will give you back your passport with your new visa in it. Do a happy dance. 

 

For your amusement, here's the whole story;

 

Under the category of "let my hard life lessons ease your pain," consider the following. Two weeks before my flight to France, I began the process of organizing my things in preparation. For those of you who have been following along, after the eviction (and moving my daughter into her new place, putting most of my stuff into storage, and staying with a friend for a month) it was difficult keeping track of where vital items were, say for example, my passport. 

 

Being an organized person, I usually only need to think of where I had put something and I could find it there. But when most of your belongings are in storage, some are at your daughter's new place, and some in the garage of your kind and generous friend, it can be hard to keep track. And since the eviction had me in such a state emotionally, I confess I lost the thread of where things were more often than not. Also, the day the packing crew arrived, I came down with a 102 degree fever and spent the entire unconscious on my mattress. I hadn't needed to think about my passport and visa in over a month and had been in "if it's not on fire, I'm not going to think about it" mode for weeks. That means that the day I last laid eyes on my passport and visa, I thought to myself, "Well, here is my passport and visa, I'll leave this here until I need to pack." 

 

But when you're in bed with a fever the day you're supposed to be helping the packing crew, things, like really important things, slip through the cracks. 

 

Six weeks after the chaos of two moves, when I began looking for my passport, I realized I hadn't seen it in so long that I wasn't sure where it was. When I had looked everywhere else and failing to find it, racked my brain, the only place I could remember last seeing it was in the top left drawer of the teak wall unit that had gone into storage. I called the storage company and told them the situation, and the lady I spoke to offered to have one of their employees go into my storage unit and look for it. I was overcome with gratitude; this would save me a trip across the bridge and many miles away during the pre-Christmas rush. 

 

A few days later, when I hadn't heard from them, I sent an email asking if they'd found the passport. No response. I feared the worst, and running out of time, I called the US passport office and emailed the French consulate to ask if I would be able to get a replacement in time. The passport office told me that I could come in and order a rush replacement. All that remained was my visa, a precious and vital document. 

 

The passport office was not too crowded, the wait was only a few minutes, and my fears were allayed. Good thing I had taken a photo of my old passport. I showed the photo to the lady behind the bullet-proof glass, and she nodded. If I were to provide a rush-fee of 195.00 and a new passport photo (darn, I couldn't use the one I'd used for the previous one, and it was a nicer likeness!) I could come pick up my new passport the next day. I was partially relieved. At the very least, I could travel to France. But the really scary task still lay ahead. 

 

The French Consulate website states in no uncertain terms that they do not accept walk-ins. I had emailed them five times, but didn't expect a response and didn't get one. Why? Because as they say on their website, the answers to most questions are on their website and if you email them on a topic that is not covered in their FAQs, expect an answer in two weeks. Because in two weeks I would be in France, I decided that I would take a chance and just go there, to the French consulate, even though they tell you that you must absolutely not do that. With visions of being tackled to the ground by the security guard in my head, and feeling ashamed and embarrassed that I had misplaced such an important document, I mustered my courage and took an Uber to 88 Montgomery. 

 

I greeted the security guard politely and explained that I had just moved and had misplaced my passport and visa. I showed him my new visa and my visa application binder which contained triplicate copies of all the documents I had submitted when I had applied for the original visa. He went back and talked to the lady behind the bullet-proof glass (the very same one who had helped me get my visa in the first place) and came back to me. "Wait in one of the brown chairs. It may be a long wait."

 

I observed that there were two colors of chairs; blue for people with appointments and brown for people without. I still didn't know whether I would be able to get a new visa in time for my trip, but with the patience I had developed in response to other's descriptions of dealing with French bureaucracy, I resigned myself to waiting as long as necessary. 

 

Only ten minutes later, I was called to the window. "Bonjour," I said, the lady replied with a smile and a "bon jour" and then I explained that during my move my passport and visa had been misplaced. I pushed my new passport and a new photo under the glass, she took them, and then I showed her the binder with all my original application paperwork. She asked me to pull out and hand her a couple of the documents, and took all of these items to the back office. When she returned she said that I should wait. 

 

I sat back down in the brown chair. It seemed as though they were going to help me after all! I didn't dare get my hopes up too high, but I couldn't help but feel a little relief. At least she hadn't sent me away. 

 

When she finally was done helping a few other people, she called me over and asked me for 115.00. This was a very good sign! I couldn't get my credit card out fast enough. 

 

Thirty minutes later, she called me over to the window again, and handed my my passport. "Merci beaucoup!" I said. Although the new visa had been placed into my passport a little crooked, it was there. Valid. I'd have hugged her if she hadn't been behind glass and allowed myself a huge sigh of relief and a little tiny happy dance as I left the building. 

 

Later that day I got a call from the storage company. "We found your passport! Would you like us to send it to you?"

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