A passport is a very important document that contains its holder’s citizenship and identity details. Some people may not know it, but it is prescribed by law to report lost or stolen passports to the agencies concerned. The Australian Passports Act, 2005, provides that Australians who fail to report the theft or loss of their passports will be given penalties. It is therefore necessary to report lost passports as soon as practicable.
If your Australian passport is lost while you are overseas, the following are the things to take note of, some of which should be done immediately:
- It is not only legal, but also safer, to report lost or stolen passports while overseas.
- It can be done online through passports.gov.au. To be able to do this, though, you need to know your passport number.
- You may also opt to go to the nearest Australian diplomatic consulate or mission in the country you are visiting to report a lost passport.
- Since you are overseas, you need to secure a new passport to be able to return to Australia.
It is necessary to report a lost or stolen passport, since it can be used fraudulently (for instance, identity theft). Other people when they get hold of your passport could assume your identity, travel illegally, and commit criminal activities using your name. Incidences of identity theft have greatly increased in Australia, and now cost the country $1.5 billion annually. Remember that passports would only be considered officially lost once reported to the Australian passport office. Therefore, if a thief assumes your identity using your passport and commits a crime, you could be held liable if you do not report that you lost it, or that it was stolen.
After reporting the loss of your passport, you need to have it replaced to be able to go back to Australia. While overseas, you may take the following steps to get a new passport:
- Fill out an “overseas” application form that can be accessed online.
- You will be asked to provide information regarding the loss of the passport.
- You need to attend an interview thereafter.
- Pay the new passport application fee of $250 for adults and $125 for children.
- Pay the lost or stolen passport fee. Fees differ from $111 to $500 depending on the circumstances and the number of travel documents lost or stolen.
- There is also an overseas surcharge of $100 for adults’ and $50 for children’s passports.
- A foreign-language police report may need to be translated to English – see http://www.migrationtranslators.com.au/police-report-translations.php.
Losing a passport overseas can prove taxing, dangerous, and costly. The best option is to ensure your passport’s safety when travelling abroad.