NYC to Berlin and Back: My U.S. Passport was Lost or Stolen – What to do!

The Berlin Wall, Germany

The Berlin Wall, Germany

During my first trip to Europe, my passport was lost and stolen. I know, stupid me for not holding onto it for dear life! The problem is - I did. I’m all about being prepared for any kind of trip, whether it’s domestic or international, for business or for pleasure. I need to be logistically prepared for [almost] anything. Even with technology these days, I always have copies of maps from point A to point B and C to D, download transit maps, and read about how to get around beforehand. Without this, I have a hard time being relaxing when I need to be.

As a native New Yorker, I wasn’t too worried since I was in an urban landscape, but still, I don’t speak German and it was my first trip to Europe. Luckily, my family and Dan were able to email me copies of my birth certificate, passport (I always keep a copy with my family). I also had a copy of my itinerary, which was enough to prove that it was indeed an emergency for me to get back home - I was leaving in just seven days.

I felt like all the odds were stacked against me. The embassy was booked (just in case, I booked the earliest appointment on the embassy website but it was 5 days after my flight back to the U.S. – AH!). , I didn’t have any original documents to prove who I was, and I didn’t have passport-sized photos. In addition, all of this happened on a Sunday, when all businesses except establishments that sold food and bars are closed in Europe. It took me four hours to find a computer and printer to use in the back of a small deli about a 20-minute walk away from where I was staying.

I went to the embassy Monday morning at 8am, stood in line and got yelled at in German for having a purse and a phone (apparently those aren't allowed inside the building unless of course, you're American, but my accent wasn’t enough to prove it) until the guard inside saw my brother's US passport and basically walked us in like we were royalty. Oh yeah, I forgot to add that my little brother was traveling with me.

Just in case all of this happens to you, fear not! I have listed instructions below BUT make sure to carry 2 US passport-sized photos when you travel abroad - you'll thank me later (but let's hope you don't have to use them). Try to keep them in a pair of socks and not in your wallet. The passport or ID printing stations around Berlin do not print the standard U.S. passport-sized photos. There is however, a passport or ID printing station inside the actual embassy, in the room where they process you but it only takes exact change and no paper bills.

I pulled this list of documents from the U.S. Embassy, Germany website and it saved my life:

            Form DS-11, Application for a U.S. Passport/passport card.

           Do not sign the DS-11 until you are in the presence of a Consular officer.

            Form DS-64, Statement of Loss.

           Do not sign the DS-64 until you are in the presence of a Consular officer.

            Police report documenting incident of theft.

            Proof of U.S. citizenship (i.e. U.S. birth certificate, Naturalization Certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, Certificate of Citizenship, previously issued U.S. passport)

            Photo Identification

            Two identical passport sized (5cm x 5cm) photos.

                        See our Photo requirements

            A self-addressed stamped return envelope (EUR 3.60 if registered mail is required) Secure Method of Passport Delivery in Frankfurt and Bremen Further information (Pdf)

            Your application fee payment See our Fees and Forms of Payment to verify your Fee

- Bora