The holiday season is here and many of us are getting ready for cooler climates and quality time with friends and family.
And while a vacation is a great way to de-stress, it does not come without any risks – one of which is the loss or theft of a passport.
Often considered ‘unthinkable’, a lost or stolen passport is a holiday-nightmare that can result in significant delays and unanticipated costs. In addition to the many inconveniences faced by an individual, a lost or stolen passport poses a serious risk of identity theft for use in illegal activities.
Here is a simplified guide for UAE residents who have lost their passports abroad.
Note- Even though the entire process may take quite some time, if the correct procedure is not adhered to, longer delays and other procedural complexities may be faced in the long run. So do not take any shortcuts.
Step 1: Get a police report
The first thing you must do is head to the nearest police station to obtain a police report for the lost or stolen passport. Have it officially translated into Arabic or English, otherwise it may not be recognised by the UAE authorities when you will need it. This is important to keep in mind in a country where neither Arabic nor English is an official language.
Step 2: Contact the embassy of your origin
Contact the embassy of your origin so that they can provide emergency travel documents that will enable you to return home and apply for a new passport. Do not attempt to return to the UAE with only a travel document as this will likely result in refusal of entry.
At this stage you should also have your police report authenticated by your home embassy, which will be helpful when you connect with the UAE authorities for issuance of a re-entry permit.
Step 3: Connect with the UAE embassy in the holiday destination
The UAE embassy in the holiday destination must be notified about the incident as soon as possible so that they can update their records and initiate any security measures, such as blocking the lost or stolen passport, to avoid identity theft.
Ask them to legalise your police report, as you will need it after your new passport has been issued in your home country. Note that an attestation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country the passport was missing will also be required prior to presenting the police report to the UAE embassy.
Step 4: Connect with the UAE embassy in your home country
Once you are back to your home country and have your new passport in hand, head to the UAE embassy which will provide you with a re-entry permit to allow you to legally return to the UAE. Your legalised police report will now come handy.
And finally, seek out professional advice
Specific procedures will apply for different passport holders and these may also vary depending on the country that the passport was lost or stolen. While it may be difficult to access accurate information on the correct procedures, a qualified immigration specialist can help ensure all the correct steps are followed through to aid a seamless and safe journey home.
What not to-do
• While the Emirates ID card or e-gate card can generally help you enter the UAE without a passport, problems will likely arise either on arrival (since a lost passport notification is shared with international databases) or later as the UAE takes strict measures to avoid the risks of identity theft and will ask you to leave the country if the UAE embassy was not notified in the holiday destination.
• Do not attempt to enter the UAE using your new passport until you have completed the procedures to obtain a re-entry permit through a UAE embassy. This will most likely result in a refusal to enter the country.
• The time required and costs incurred throughout the process and in obtaining a new passport will vary depending on the issuing country and holiday destination.
• Check to see if your travel insurance covers accommodation, travel costs, and embassy fees in case of a lost or stolen passport.
• If you are required to visit Interpol or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in the UAE, make sure you carefully explain the situation and steps taken to ensure the process is correctly documented and to minimise any risk on family members. It may be helpful to appoint an Arabic translator to reduce communication barriers or misunderstanding.
• Visit the relevant authorities in person or accompanied by a professional as responses may be delayed if done through your sponsor.
Louise Collins is the UAE inbound immigration expert at Fragomen