Losing your passport a week before your flight is the basis for the nightmares of many people who go abroad – for me it was a reality. Last week I realised that my passport had gone missing when it dawned on me that it wasn’t in one of few hiding spots in my room. Here is a debrief of the processes you will go through in order to get an Emergency Travel Document and get home, correct as of 26th September 2014.
Search everywhere, everything and everyone (maybe not the last one)
I searched every nook and cranny of my flat. I moved my wardrobe, flipped my mattress and stuck my head in rather uncomfortable positions with the optimistic dream that it had fallen down the back of the sofa or was hiding in one of my trouser pockets. If you are fortunate then this ordeal will stop here for you.
Once you begin to lose hope of finding your beloved passport, it is fair enough if you want to scream your lungs out over it. But you have to accept that it is gone and then plan your next steps with a sound mind, after that it isn’t so bad. Working with InternChina, I was lucky to have the support and necessary advice I needed in order to get my new documents in time before my flight in 1 week and indeed this support is available to all our interns.
Step 1 – Gather passport copies, relevant documents and passport photos (with receipt)
Step 2 –Police Station (handy to have a Chinese speaker)
It shouldn’t take too long but first off, was to report my missing passport to the police station, hand them your passport copies and they will give you a small form with a red stamp on it [all formal documents should have a red stamp on them]. Having my InternChina colleague, Henry, there to help translate for me made this step much easier.
Step 3 – Local ‘Division of Exit and Entry of (insert city) Public Security Bureau’
Next I was told to take my police report and passport copies and to inform the Exit and Entry bureau of my missing passport. They spoke English here so I was happy to make the journey myself. You will have to queue and wait to be called to the desk like any Visa office. Once reported, they will give you another form detailing the report of the missing passport. Ask in advance how long it will take to arrange a new visa, as you may need to change your flight if you simply don’t have enough time.
Step 4 – Nearest National Consulate
With your police report, your Exit and Entry bureau report, flight details and a proof of residence in your home country (eg. Driver’s license) and passport copies, the next step is to make an appointment with your nearest Consulate/Embassy in order to get your Emergency Travel Documents (ETD). For me this was the British Consulate in Guangzhou and they were able to arrange an emergency time slot for me which was great, you will have to pay for this service though (mine was 1020rmb). I went in the morning, my meeting was at 10am and it only took until the end of the afternoon to collect it – and now you can go back to wherever you are staying.
Step 5 –Residence report
If you registered with the police then you will need to go and amend this with your new ETD passport number. If you are staying at a hotel then you can ask the reception to help you with this form.
Step 6 – Local ‘Division of Exit and Entry of (insert city) Public Security Bureau’ again
You now need a visa to exit the country. Bring all your documents, photos etc here. Ask for a visa application form and fill it out and queue up for the desk. Once you are there you can apply for the visa and they will give you an estimated date to collect your visa and how much it will cost – you may be required to pay via a Chinese card – they will take your ETD passport until visa collection.
Step 7 – Collect your ETD Passport with visa!
That’s it. It’s over. Now enjoy the rest of your time before your sweet flight.