I was unlucky enough to suffer from a lost UK passport, phone, bank cards, cash and ID all on my first day of traveling.
When I say first day, really I mean first hour. I had landed in Guatemala City, and found the driver who was taking me to the accommodation that I had booked through my Spanish school. It was the middle of the night, I’d been travelling for 20 hours. When I got out the car, my (important) bag fell on the ground and pretty instantaneously, it was nicked.
So here are some tips if you find yourself in a similar situation
The first most important thing (much easier said than done!) is not to panic. It’s happened to a load of other, very unfortunate people – and you can recover. You don’t need to go home, and you can get it all back.
1. The ultimate: lost passport
- First of all, go the the police station and file a loss/stolen police report. They often have tourist police stations which aren’t very busy so check out if your city/town has one.
- Book an appointment online at the closest UK embassy, to get an emergency travel document. Hopefully this isn’t too far from you. You need the police report & recent passport photos.
- Then go to the country’s immigration centre, to get a stamp in your new emergency travel document. I arrived to the Guatemala City immigration at 7am (despite it opening at 8), and there was already a queue of 50 people waiting in line outside!
- If you are staying in a place for 6 weeks at least, and you are from the UK, you can apply for a new passport here. You just need to send the following documents:
- An official letter proving your current address (for them to send the passport to)
- The application form, signed by a witness that you ideally is British and you have known for 2 years. However, they did tell me on the phone that they can flex on this depending on your situation.
- Your emergency passport
NB: Triple check the photo criteria. I almost sent my form off using the same photos I took for my emergency document – but this would have been rejected as the photos need to be taken within the last month (the emergency doc was issued 2 months before).
I sent my form off with tracked signed delivery using DHL (the post alone cost £70) but then I could track it.
It even went through Venezuela (gangster) and it arrived within 12 days (rapid).
2. Money / cards
- Block your cards immediately. You can call any country cheaply through Skype without having to borrow someones phone. Your bank should also be able to send new cards out to wherever you are.
- For cash, I paid people via Paypal which is a good back-up if you have this already set up (but they do charge interest on every transfer).
- Alternatively, TransferWise is a great site that lets you pay people online, and they charge a lot less than PayPal (no % interest with a low flat fee). If you use my exclusive link here, you’ll also receive a £500 transfer totally free of charge.
- It’s good to have a back-up ID with you so you can pay for things by credit card. In foreign countries, you usually need ID to pay by credit card.
- Therefore I’d recommend applying for a new ID and getting this sent to you here.
- Hopefully you have insurance, so you should be able to claim to get a replacement phone sent to your registered house.
- If you are on a monthly contract, you can get a new SIM card sent to you for free by calling your mobile provider. However a new UK SIM probably isn’t necessary. You can buy a SIM card wherever you are and still use your UK number on whatsapp if you want to keep the same number.
- Then you can get this sent out to wherever you are. Again, I’d recommend using DHL so you can track it.
At the end of the day, it’s only material stuff – so it’s bloody annoying, a massive hassle, and I certainly did feel naked without my stuff – but it’s all replaceable.
If you’re reading this ahead of travelling, don’t forget to GET INSURANCE! I cannot scream this loud enough (especially following the above). I really regret not signing up to a specific nomad-insurance policy – I used Boots Insurance who don’t even accept online claims. Since then, I have done a load of research on insurance policies. Now, I’m signed up with worldnomads – who are really good value, cover a range of different things, and make it super easy to claim online. See what you can save by clicking on the following link: