My life on the road: A lost passport, no ID, and bullshit paperwork trying to get back to Canada

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Oh god. Total nightmare. And the twist at the end… could your life be a Shylaman film?


Hah! Hope you feel a little less frustrated after sharing that. At least they did find your passport in the end, so that’s something! :slight_smile:



I don’t know if it can help in these situations; but I keep a copy of my passport/id inmy luggage and as pictures on my phone.


Depending on how often you go into the US I would suggest looking into a Nexus card. While from a security perspective I think the program is a bad idea, from the standpoint of my personal convenience it’s been fantastic and I travel to the US often enough to make it worthwhile. (Although it was a bit of a pain to get it–I had a hard time scheduling the necessary appointments at Pearson.)

In theory you can fly with just the Nexus card, although I admit I always bring my passport. The Nexus card serves as my emergency backup identification and gets me through security more quickly.

I have read about an American who tried to fly with just the Nexus card and got stopped by Porter. They wound up buying a ticket out of Pearson instead.

No tell what the US airlines will do, though.


I’ve only watched it once, never again. Too painful.


I lost (prefer to think ‘had stolen’, it avoids triggering my ‘you clumsy so-and-so’ narrative) my passport in Princeton and discovered it was missing on the day of my flight back to London.

Zip into NYC on the train; got an appointment at the British consulate; left an hour later clutching a six-month emergency passport. Made my flight that afternoon.

Some blood-pressure-raising moments, but it reminded me that the best thing is to move as quickly into ‘how do I best help the right people help me fix this?’ as possible. And be nice to people whose help you need, not snarky (I really hope the author didn’t really say those things at the check-in desk).


Wait, wasn’t United supposed to be evil?

Sorry that happened to you. It sounds like the consulate was doing the best it could without a guarantor, and it sounds like United was being United and the TSA was being the TSA.

I keep a scan of my passport and other IDs in an encrypted file on my phone and on a thumb drive in my backpack, for supporting evidence just in case something like this happens. My actual passport goes into my pocket the moment I enter the departure airport and goes into a secure pocket inside my backpack right before I leave the arrival airport, so if I lose it en route I’ll know roughly where and when. Depending on the place I’m visiting the passport either stays in my hotel or in a money belt on my person.


There is absolutely no reason to take a taxi into Chicago from the airport. There’s a beautiful CTA station right in the airport.


I enjoy your writing on this site Seamus.


I strongly suggest you get a provincial photo ID card. I don’t drive either; my photo ID makes life much easier.


True. But I find that a lot of people are either scared of public transit in general or are scared of using a system they haven’t used before. Personally I prefer transit even if I’ve never been to a city before – at least in the pre phone GPS era I’ve encountered taxi drivers who liked to take tourists on a purposely convoluted trip to rack up the fare.

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Yeah, as an American non-driver I have a state ID as well.


I had the Delta gate attendants in Salt Lake City almost deny me boarding to Canada (where I live) because I was on an Australian passport. An Australian passport holder needs no other document to enter Canada, but they wanted to see my work permit which says on it “This document does not authorise entry to Canada”. That is 100% true, but I don’t need any other document other than my passport. It’s as if they checked my gym membership card and said “that doesn’t allow you to enter Canada”.


Losing my passport is my absolute worst fucking nightmare. I keep a color photocopy of it when I travel in the hope that it eases things, because unlike my siblings, my passport is the only legal document I have to prove citizenship, and also unlike my siblings, I’m the only one whose place of birth is a foreign country. I was going to set things up so I have alternative documentation, but I’m waiting for someone less orange to be in charge of the State Department and other relevant agencies so that I can jump through a normal amount of hoops instead of extra ones.

All of this is to say: I see your hell, and I want nothing to do with it.


The only reason that US passports are needed to enter Canada is to show that you can return to the United States afterward.


Public transit is a great way of getting to know a city and its people, too. Some systems, like Moscow’s, are tourist attractions in and of themselves.


It might be a bit tighter than that now. Government ID was all that was required for Canadians and Americans crossing in either direction. It’s been tightened up in the last few years.

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Clearly your trip went bad the moment you lost your passport; you have our sympathies! But…this is what happens when you lose your (principal) travel document.

The Canadian consulate in Chicago is wonderful. Their staff have been efficient, highly personable, and effective when I needed their assistance. Yes, you had to pay for each type of documentation, but you also got the documentation you needed the day you needed it.

On a recent conference in Italy one of my colleagues from the Netherlands got his wallet stolen. He spent the next four days getting documentation to be able to travel home. The conference lasted five days, so he got to be there only the last day.

Let’s keep things in perspective.