Help! I Lost My Passport, and I Fly Tomorrow [2023 Guide]

A woman with a suitcase and an alarm clock who is worried about her lost passport.
As seen on:

After retracing your steps and checking every nook and cranny, the panic sets in—

Your passport is lost, and you’re scheduled to fly tomorrow. 

If you’re flying domestically, there’s nothing to worry about, as your driver’s license provides sufficient proof of identification to board any flight within the US and its overseas territories. 

Flying outside of the US or back home to America? 

Things get a little trickier. 

Keep reading to find out all of your options, or jump to the scenario that best describes your current situation: 

Is your passport lost or stolen? Do you need a new passport photo right now? Upload an existing snap or get our app (Passport Photo Maker App for Android / Passport Photo Booth App for iOS) and get quality photos for your replacement passport application.

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Check out these related links on US passports:

I lost my passport before my domestic flight

A lost passport is not an issue for domestic flights since all you need is a boarding pass and ID.

If you’re in the United States and flying domestically, don’t worry: travelers do not need their passports to catch a domestic flight. This is true for travel to all fifty American states, including Alaska and Hawaii. You only need a government-issued photo ID, such as your driver’s license, to board the plane.

This is also true for travel to the US overseas territories of:

  • Guam 
  • American Samoa 
  • The Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific 
  • Puerto Rico 
  • The US Virgin Islands of St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix in the Caribbean 

These destinations are considered domestic, and passengers do not need a passport to fly there. Any form of government photo ID will do. So enjoy your trip! You can worry about replacing that missing passport when you return. 

Pro tip: When replacing lost or stolen passports, US citizens must fill out the “lost or stolen passport” form, DS-64, and the usual application for a new passport, Form DS-11.

I lost my passport before my international trip

You will need to replace your lost passport for international travel from the US.

You have a serious issue if you’re in the United States and planning on flying internationally but can’t find your passport. You won’t be permitted to board a plane without a valid passport as the document is essential for international travel—even to our neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico. 

So if you can’t find your passport, what can you do?

Unfortunately, you must cancel or postpone your trip for a few months. 

How long will the delay last? 

It can now take up to 13 weeks from applying until your replacement passport is delivered to your home. Even with expedited service, the processing time still takes up to 9 weeks door-to-door.

Pro tip: If traveling due to the death or hospitalization of an immediate family member, you may qualify for life-or-death passport service, where you’ll receive a new US passport within 72 hours. Call the National Passport Processing Center at 1-877-487-2778 (between the hours of 8 AM and 5 PM) or 202-647-4000 (after regular business hours) to make an appointment at 1 of 26 regional passport agencies in the U.S.

I lost my passport abroad, and I fly tomorrow

If you lost your US passport in a foreign country, an emergency passport is required to return to the US.

Losing your passport overseas is a major problem because it is only possible to return to the US with a valid passport. If you find yourself in this scenario, contact the nearest US embassy or consulate to report your travel document lost or stolen, and they will tell you what to do next. If your flight is tomorrow, give them your flight details so they can do their best to help you quickly.

Next, you’ll need to fill out the DS-64 “lost or stolen passport” form along with the standard DS-11. Give the consular staff your travel itinerary (such as your plane ticket/boarding pass info) and, in the event of theft, the police report (if any). 

Show the consular officer a valid photo ID (e.g., a driver’s license) and proof of citizenship, such as your birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or an old expired passport. And don’t worry if you’re unable to present any of these documents—the consular staff will do their best to assist you to replace your passport quickly.

Pro tip: Since an expired passport can be used as proof of identity and proof of citizenship all in one, experienced travelers opt to carry an old passport separately from their documents in case they lose their passport during their trip. 

All that’s left is to provide the embassy or consulate staff with a compliant passport photo to get an emergency passport that can be used to return to the US.

The emergency passport must be replaced with a regular US passport upon returning to the United States.

Lost my passport before my flight—summary

Depending on your travel situation, you may be able to fly without a passport. Let’s recap the three scenarios described in the blog post.

  1. In the US and flying domestically: No passport is required (a valid driver’s license will suffice).
  2. In the US and flying internationally: A new passport is required. Reschedule your trip to a new date or see if you qualify for life-or-death emergency passport service.
  3. Outside of the US and scheduled to fly back home: Contact the nearest US consulate or embassy to have an emergency passport issued.

Can’t find your passport at home? 

Losing your passport is stressful enough, so we’ve made getting new passport photos a breeze. Trust PhotoAiD® to provide you with a 100% compliant passport photo in minutes, then print it using any commercial printer or opt to have your photos delivered to any address in the US.

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