Make 2 Copies of your Passport ID Page

11 October 2011
US passport with airline ticket and suitcase

Photocopying your passport records

If your passport is lost or stolen on a trip, you could be stuck at the border and even denied entry into your home country. To avoid this issue, we recommend following some practical steps:

  1. Make two copies of your passport ID page – that’s the page with your picture, your date of birth, etc. This can be an image scan or hard copy.
  2. Give one copy to someone you trust – a friend, family member, or assistant – in case you need to contact them while on your trip.
  3. Keep the other copy with you. If it’s printed, put it in your carry-on (not your checked luggage – that could go missing). If it’s an electronic copy, make sure you have access to it when you leave the U.S. (on your mobile device, or in your e-mail, for example).

With these steps complete, if your passport is lost or stolen, you have the information (or the contact) you need to make a good police report and get a speedy replacement.

Did you know?

You may not always need a passport when traveling outside the country. In fact, for travel to and from some areas, a passport card is adequate for returning to the U.S.

See how a passport card is different from a passport.

How to photocopy your passport

You may have heard that photocopying your passport, as an official government document, is illegal. That’s urban legend. In fact, there are very good reasons to photocopy your passport.

The US State Department recommends keeping two extra passport photos with the copy of your passport. Having these photos, and the passport page copy, is the best way to manage getting a replacement passport quickly.

When you make a photocopy of your passport, use these tips:

  • Ensure all details on the copy are legible.
  • Adjust the photocopier’s default settings if the copy is too dark.
  • Alternatively, scan the passport image instead.
Traveler packing passport and suitcase

Be careful! While you can’t use the copy of your passport the same way as you would the real passport, the information on the copy is sensitive and private. Guard the copy carefully.

See 7 passport travel safety tips.

How to get a certified passport copy

If you will be abroad for longer than 90 days, you may need to apply for a visa. When applying for a visa, you may be asked for a certified copy of your passport by the immigration organization of the country you are visiting. If you plan to open a bank account or make significant purchases in country, the bank or lender may also ask for a certified copy of your passport.

The process to get a certified copy of your passport is relatively simple and typically involves these steps:

  1. Find out if you can send a copy of your original passport yourself – this varies by country.
  2. Determine what pages of the passport document need to be copied – this also varies by country.
  3. Scan your passport to create a digital color copy and make sure everything can be read.
  4. Ask the requesting organization for their certification rules.
  5. Get the copy signed/certified by the entity they require.

Do you need a passport to travel in the US?

As a US citizen, you do not need a passport to travel inside the US, including states like Hawaii and Alaska or the territory of Puerto Rico. American citizens entering the US must show a valid passport, US passport card, or an enhanced driver’s license to re-enter the country from abroad.

Lawful permanent residents of the US need to show a Permanent Resident Card (also called a green card), but a passport is not required.

Citizens of Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda must present a valid passport from their home country to travel to the US by air. When arriving by land or sea, they must provide the necessary travel documents identified by the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative.

All travelers from other countries must show a valid passport in order to enter the US. Once you’ve gained entry, you can put your passport away until you leave the US for your home country.

Traveler showing passport to agent

If your passport is lost or stolen

If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, it’s important to immediately contact the nearest US embassy or consulate. Passports that are reported missing are immediately deactivated, so someone else can’t use your passport to illegally enter the US under your identification.

If you’re inside the US and your passport is lost or stolen, you’ll need to fill out some forms and take them to the closest passport agency or acceptance facility.

See how travel insurance covers lost passports.

If you find a lost U.S. passport

If you find a lost passport, you are requested to return it the US Department of State at this address.

US Department of State Passport Services
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036

Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.