What to Do if You Lose Your Passport in China
If your passport has been lost or stolen, it should be reported immediately. This will help protect yourself against identity theft and to prevent someone else from using the passport.
Here are the procedures you should follow (please note that this is tailored for US passport holders, if you’re of a different nationality be sure to check with your embassy).
1. Turn your home upside down. Getting a new passport isn’t that difficult, but it also isn’t easy or free. If you’re in China, or any other country with strict visa requirements, you’re going to have to come up with a lot of paperwork too. So before you report it gone, be absolutely sure that it is gone. Plus, you don’t want to lose all those precious stamps of places you’ve been!
2. Cry. Or, if you don’t cry, punch something. Because being in a foreign country without a passport sucks and is kind of scary. Keep this to a maximum of two minutes though, and then gather yourself together and get started on getting a new one ASAP, especially if you have imminent travel plans.
3. Visit the PSB. In China before you can apply for a new passport, you must have proof that your passport has been reported as lost or stolen. That requires going to the Public Security Bureau (公安局) and filing a simple statement attesting how the passport came to be missing. They’ll give you a stamped form you’ll need to bring with you to the consulate.
4. Fill out the Forms. Before rushing to the nearest embassy/consulate, do your groundwork first. For U.S passports you’ll need to fill out two forms, the DS-11 (passport application) and the DS-64 (report of lost/stolen passport), plus you’ll need two passport photos. Both forms can be found at the DOS website’s passport terminal (http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html).
5. Go to the Nearest Embassy or Consulate. Once you fill out your forms, head to the nearest embassy or consulate. A full list of U.S. consulates can be found at the website, http://www.usembassy.gov. But be sure to read the specifics of the consulate in your area. For example, the U.S. embassy in Beijing is only open in the morning on Wednesdays, and you must make an appointment online in order to be seen. If you have any alternate forms of identification, take them with you (birth certificate, student ID, social security card, driver’s license, etc.). Technically, you’re required to have one proof of identity (photo ID) and one proof of U.S. citizenship. But if your whole wallet was stolen, don’t fret. You’ll simply have to undergo an interview with a consular officer to answer some questions about your background and identity. If you have a copy of your missing passport, be sure to take that. The new passport (which will cost you about $135), must be paid for upon application.
6. Wait. Typically, a new passport should be issued within 7-10 days. If you’ve lost your passport but have immediate, upcoming travel plans, take proof of your travel dates with you when you go to apply for the new passport. The U.S. consulate should be able to issue you with documents to ensure you can still travel freely.
7. Get Your Visa Replaced. Once you pick up your new passport, your first priority is having your visa replaced or re-issued. It is illegal to be in China without a valid visa, and you must have one to exit the country with. You will need to visit the Public Security Bureau and go through all the motions of getting a visa extended: You’ll need:
• One passport photo
• A filled-out visa renewal form. If you’re working or studying here this will need your company or sponsoring institution’s chop (red stamp)
• Your residence or temporary registration permit (or, if you’re staying in a hotel, the check-in certificate)
• The form issued to you by the PSB stating that you reported your passport lost or stolen
• A stamped letter from your company or institution stating your business in China and the dates of your requested visa (unless you’re a tourist, in which case not necessary)
• Copies of your old visa and/or passport, if you have them
8. Rejoice. Pick up your passport with the new visa and celebrate your freedom, knowing you’ll be more careful in future.
• Your new passport will have a different passport number and expiration date, so if you have any outstanding visa applications, you will need to re-apply once you get your new passport.
• If you do find your passport or if it is turned in to the police but you’ve already reported it as missing to the U.S. consulate, it’s too late. Once a passport is reported lost/stolen to the consulate, it is immediately invalidated by the U.S. State Department. This is why you should be extra sure that it’s actually gone before reporting it. Take it to the consulate with you and they’ll punch holes in it to mark it visibly invalidated, but you can hang onto it for memento’s sake.
• It will greatly help to speed up your case if you have photocopies of all your relevant documents. It’s a good idea to keep photocopies of your passport, visa and temporary residence permit stored both physically and in electronic form in your email. If you don’t have any of this information, then at least have your passport number to hand.