Friday 13 May, 2011

Passport Tips – Part 2

Passports from around the world

In case you missed Part 1 of this post, Click Here

Another Option

I’ve met some group leaders who hold the passports for their entire group. I’m not sure I think this is wise. What if that person loses the entire stash of passports? What would be more difficult to handle, passport replacement for an entire group or for only one person? However, if I traveled with students younger than high school, I would ask the parents or chaperones to keep up with the child’s passport. I remember a group leader in the early 1990s on a consolidated tour in England with me who would always keep her group’s passports in the hotel safe. One morning after our bus departed for its next destination, her face registered a shock when she realized that she had left behind her group’s passports at our last hotel. She had to get off in the next town, catch a train back to that hotel, and catch another train to meet our bus where we would be staying for the night.

Frequently Checking In

Group leaders need to make frequent passport checks, especially before leaving a hotel. I make passport checks at least twice a day. On one tour in Italy, we had an early-morning departure to the airport. Instead of making passport checks in the lobby before my group boarded the bus, I made the check on the bus as we were pulling out of the parking lot. Much to my chagrin, one of my guys realized he left his passport belt in his hotel room. It’s a good thing I can run like my hair is on fire. I made my student run with me up several flights of stairs and we returned to the bus out of breath. It was my fault not to do the check in the lobby, so live and let learn.

How to Deal with a Missing Passport

If a group leader has to deal with a lost or stolen passport, these tips will help to speed the replacement process:

• Make 4 color photocopies of the first two pages of each person’s passport. (Be sure everyone signs their brand-new passports, too, before you depart for the airport.) Group leaders should keep one copy and students should keep a copy in their carry-on bag and one copy in their checked luggage. All copies should be kept separately from the actual passport. Leave one copy at home with family members.

2 US passports

United States Passports

• You can also scan the first two passport pages and send it to yourself in an e-mail attachment and email that attachment to the group leader. You can download it and print it overseas. (I prefer the hard color copies.)

• Bring 2 “passport photos,” recent 2”X2,” identical color headshots with a white  background.

• Bring another photo identification like a driver’s license and a copy of your birth certificate (or any other document that has proof of your US citizenship).   What would I do if one of my students lost a passport (or had one stolen)? After resisting the urge to box that person’s ears (and risk losing my teaching license), I would follow the advice that I gleaned from a number of web sites.

This would be my plan of action to get an emergency, limited validity passport:

Check every nook and cranny in the hotel room, in the luggage, and on the person who lost the passport before informing the tour director.

• Contact the local police to report the lost or stolen passport. Get a copy of the police report. Bring it with you to the embassy or consulate office, along with the color copy of the first two passport pages, another photo ID, a copy of the birth certificate, and two passport-size photos.

• Contact the nearest US embassy or Consulate (go to the Department of State’s web site for this information). Schedule an emergency appointment because there are no “walk-ins.” Appointments are available Monday to Friday, but no weekends. You will have to speak to the American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate Section of the Embassy. The group leader or an adult chaperone will have to accompany the student who lost the passport.

• Since the passport is still valid, you will have to complete a Form DS-64 (to report the loss of your passport) and a Form DS-11 (to apply for a replacement passport). Both of these forms can be downloaded from the Department of State’s web site. You can download, print, and complete the forms, but do not sign them, before you make your way to the embassy or consulate office. Fees for the limited validity passport can be paid with cash or with a credit card.

• The temporary, limited validity passport will be issued the same day.

The group leader and the student with the missing, now replaced, passport will have to make their own arrangements to rejoin the group.  Your tour director should help you with this information. Hopefully, the rest of the group will still be in the same city or the same country. What if a student discovers that he or she has lost a passport on the day of or the day before departure?  What if the passport was lost during a weekend? These questions will have to be the subject of another post, one that I hope I never have to write from experience.

Flickr photo via baigalmrwynd

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