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From Costa Rica to Denver: Surviving a Lost or Stolen Passport

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Whether you’re in Costa Rica on vacation or permanently for retirement, the one thing that every expat needs is a passport. This sounds simple enough, but what happens if your passport gets lost or stolen while in Costa Rica? Have no fear: Despite what you might think, it’s actually not that terrible to get a new passport.

WHO (Who should you talk to)? First, file a police report. This is one thing that the Embassy really likes to see. Secondly, call the Embassy of your home country to find out what they want you to bring, how much it’s going to cost, and to possibly set up an appointment.

TIP: You might also be able to set up an appointment online. Having one can save you hours of waiting for your number to be called.

WHAT (What should I bring)? Definitely have the police report with you at all times after you’ve lost your passport. This will act as a temporary “identification” if you should have any further run-ins with the police. This is also the main documentation your Embassy will want to have. Of course, if you have any other ID’s or copies of your passport, have these on hand as well.

TIP: Make sure to have paper copies because the Embassies don’t allow electronic devices inside (they’re held at security).

WHERE (Where should I go)? While the exact location will vary depending on your country of origin, you’ll need to plan a trip to San Jose to file for a new passport. The U.S. Embassy is in the Pavas region of San Jose, near the National Stadium and the Canadian Embassy in the Mata Redonda District.

TIP: If you’re planning on staying overnight for your excursion to the U.S. Embassy, the absolute best hotel in the area is Isla Verde. Located just 2 blocks from the embassy, the hotel is a peaceful oasis in the city with the added benefit of being close to everything you could possibly want or need. They have incredibly reasonable rates (less than $100 per night) and the staff will blow your mind with their thoughtfulness. Plus, they have one of the tastiest Chinese restaurants in the city, conveniently located off the lobby.

WHEN (When should I go)? Naturally, going as early in the morning as possible will be your best bet to get things taken care of quickly. However, something to take into consideration is if you need your permanent passport or just a temporary passport so that you can leave the country. If you’ll be leaving within 2 weeks, you’ll need to get a temp because the permanent can take anywhere from one to three weeks to process. Your temporary identification will be processed the same day, so you’ll only need to arrive in San Jose a day or two early if you’ll be flying out of SJO.

TIP: Verify the wait times as these can vary from embassy to embassy and season to season. Another consideration is that if you don’t want to stay in San Jose before you leave, this can be a great opportunity for you to relax at a hotel in the cloud forest or near the volcano instead.

Losing your passport can seem like a catastrophic loss, but compared to many bureaucratic processes, getting a new passport is on the easier end of the spectrum. If you find yourself in this situation, stay calm, try to think of it as a great story for your grandkids someday, and enjoy your spontaneous outing to the embassy.

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