Damaging or Losing a Canadian Passport While Travelling

Photo – fair use, from Wikipedia

Recently my 20 year old son damaged his passport while travelling in Thailand and we were suddenly swept up in a flurry of activity trying to figure out what to do in this situation.  A google search didn’t turn up any useful, current information on how to replace a Canadian Passport when abroad, so I thought I’d write about the process we followed, in order to help others who might find themselves in a similar situation.

First of all, the obvious:

Look after your passport carefully!  Always know where it is.  Keep it in a very safe place – locked up or in a safe place on your body – and after this experience, I recommend having a waterproof case or tuck it into a ziplock bag at the very least. I’ve always been fairly careful, but other than walking the Camino, I’ve not considered keeping my passport in a waterproof case.  This experience has made me rethink things a little.

Also. make sure you have digital photos or photocopies of your passport and all of your ID and credit cards in the event they are lost or stolen, including leaving copies with someone at home. This will speed up the process of getting new ones should the need arise.

Typical Situations

There are three main scenarios – your passport is lost, it’s stolen (possibly along with the rest of your ID), or it is damaged in some way.  This post will focus on replacing a damaged passport because that was our situation – replacing a lost or stolen passport is a little more complicated because you don’t have the original with you – however, I will provide links and info on dealing with lost or stolen passports as well.

Our situation

My son and his friend had been travelling in Thailand for about 6 weeks and although they were neophyte travellers when they left home, they now had some experience in a country that is very different from home.  However, they were about to embark on a new adventure, a learning experience that I myself have not encountered in my eleven years of travelling, and we all learned a few things.

The boys arrived in Chiang Mai early in the morning on what happened to be the Thai New Year.  While they waited to be able to check into their hostel, they wandered the streets, getting to know the city.  They’d heard that the Thai people celebrate the new year by spraying one another with water guns  but my son had no idea that he would ultimately be doused with water, soaking his passport.  Unfortunately for him, his passport was not in a waterproof case, nor even a zip lock bag, so the damage was done.

And so, at midnight on a Friday night, I found myself getting an anxious text from my son, worried that he was going to be sent home to Canada when he tried to leave Thailand, instead of being able to continue his trip to Europe. I had no idea what we would have to do, but I was sure there was some way to get the proper paperwork that would allow him to continue on his trip, even if there might be some delays and costs involved. I got as much info from him as I could, and we both started googling. We learned that there was a Canadian Consulate in Chiang Mai, but it was a holiday long weekend, and it would not open until Tuesday morning.  It was now Saturday afternoon in Thailand, and we realized that getting some temporary paperwork might take some time, so our biggest concern was his upcoming flight from Bangkok to Amsterdam in ten days.

Next I went to the Canadian Government website and found the passport pages.  I carefully read the section on lost/stolen/damaged passports and was instantly glad he still had his current passport because that would make things a little easier.  Meanwhile, he was reading the site as well and familiarizing himself with the process, as well as finding the location of the nearest Canadian Embassy (was actually a consulate in Thailand), and sorting his transportation options for Tuesday morning so he could arrive as early as possible.

At that point, he was content to wait until Tuesday to go in and sort things out, but I wasn’t so sure – if he waited to get things started on Tuesday, he would only have 7 days until his flight. That might be enough time but I wanted to make sure he walked into the consulate with everything he would need to get the process started right away in the event there were any unforeseen delays.

And so I decided to email the emergency services contact in Canada (sos@international.gc.ca) and ask for their advice and this turned out to be extremely helpful.  Not only did they provide us with clear step by step instructions with links to documents he’d have to fill out, but they also let us know he’d need a copy of his original birth certificate if he wanted to get a 5 year passport instead of a 2 year (no ten year allowed in this situation),  which of course, was still at home.  My job was to take his birth certificate down to the passport office in Kelowna first thing Monday morning, and they would make a copy, send it off digitally to the consulate in Chiang Mai, and then give me a “Cosmos” file number which he was to quote when arriving at the Consulate the next day.

He would have to apply (and pay for) a new passport, as well as a temporary passport to use for the rest of his trip (maximum length of one year, no extensions). When he filled out the passport forms, he indicated that he wanted the new passport to be sent to the Kelowna Passport office so when he returned to Canada, he just had to go down to the passport office and trade in his temporary passport for his new one.

The following site lists some of the information you need to know if your passport is lost, stolen or damaged. It is a good starting point but I would also recommend emailing or calling the emergency number to get information specific to your needs.  Your process could vary depending on what country you are in, and how close you are to a Canadian Embassy or Consulate.


And here is a link to a list of Canadian Embassies and Consulates around the world.


This site explains what a temporary passport is and how it works:


When my son arrived at the consulate on Tuesday morning, he had:

* his friend, with his own passport, who would act as his guarantor

* two new passport photos, fully meeting requirements on application form

* full names and contact info of two people back home who would act as references (just as you would need for any passport application). He had contacted these two people in advance and asked them to have their phones nearby for the next few days in case they were contacted for confirmation by the passport office. We didn’t want anything to slow down the process.

* a method of paying for all of his new documents – there were fees for everything. In this case, he chose to use his credit card. His total costs came to just under $300 CAD.

* his plane ticket for the following week showing the date he was intending to leave for Amsterdam.

* the “Cosmos” file number I’d been given when I brought his birth certificate to our local passport office.

* in addition, we had carefully looked at all of the forms online and made sure he knew the answers to all of the questions on a standard passport form.

Once they arrived at the Consulate, took a number and waited their turn, the boys were given plenty of help filling out the forms, but the process took some time. When everything was done and paid for (I think he said he had five different forms to fill out), he was told everything  would have to be sent to Bangkok for approval then returned to Chiang Mai and likely wouldn’t be back in time for his flight in 7 days.  So they anded in the application forms and decided to jump on the train and head back to Bangkok early and pick up the temporary passport there once it was ready.

After another 12+ hour train ride, they were back in Bangkok, and heading to the same hostel they’d stayed on a previous trip because they thought it might be easier to get a room without a passport (it was.) The day before his flight left, they went to the Canadian Embassy in Bangkok to pick his temporary passport, and then had to wait around for a several hours longer to get the new passport stamped.

However, I still couldn’t relax until I knew he was finally on his way to Amsterdam.  My son remembered to change the passport information when he checked in for his flight online, and he said it took twice as long to get through security at the Bangkok airport. They had two or three different officials looking over his temporary passport, as if they’d never seen one before. But in the end, he was on his way and luckily, they didn’t he had too much trouble with the temporary passport for the rest of his trip.

Useful Links and Forms for Canadians Abroad

If you do need to apply for a new passport while travelling and time is of the essence, read through the information carefully and make sure you have everything you need before you go to the Consulate or Embassy. They will provide you with forms to fill out, but you should find digital versions online and make sure you know what information will be required. For example, you will need to have full names and contact info for your two references as well as your guarantor – when you’re travelling, it’s not always easy to quickly get a friends’ contact info from afar.  You will need get proper new passport photos taken. And you will need some way to pay for all of this. If you are leaving the country soon, you should also take your airline/train/? tickets with you to prove the urgency of your request.

I have provided direct links to the forms online but please be aware that things change and these links could eventually be outdated.  It’s best if you go directly to the Canadian Government Passport website for up-to-date documents.

Passport Application Form (must be new passport application, not a renewal)


Declaration of Lost/Stolen/Damaged Passport


Authorization to use a credit card (instead of cash)


The following forms are available via email from Canadian Passport Services as well as from the Canadian Embassy or Consulate Offices.

Passport Exchange Agreement form – allows you to choose where you will exchange your temporary passport for your new passport.  Our representative recommended having the new one mailed to our local passport office and exchanged when he returned home.

Form PPT116 if you have no birth certificate with you

Form PPTC132 if you are travelling alone and have no guarantor


Also, in case you are interested, here is the email I received from the emergency services people, within a few hours of my sending my questions. As you can see, it was very specific to my son’s situation and it enabled him to be fully prepared when he arrived at the Consulate Office a few days later  (sos@international.gc.ca) From Canada, you can also call 1-800-567-6868 (I’m not sure if that is business hours only or not.)


Thank you for contacting the Emergency Watch and Response Centre at Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa.

For a complete application, your son will have to provide the following:

  • A completed application form;
  • Two passport pictures taken by a photographer in the last 6 months (those taken at photo-booths are not accepted). Please read carefully the instructions concerning the format of the photos. There are photographers near all of our offices

Please see below for a list of locations where passport photos can be obtained:

Name Address City
Digital Photo Shop@Central Airport Plaza 2 Mahidol; Haiyaa; Muang Chiang Mai

If possible, your son should also provide:

  • Valid photo ID, or photocopies thereof, if available
  • The original of your proof of citizenship, i.e. a Canadian birth certificate or Certificate of Canadian Citizenship. If the original of this document is not with you but available to someone, please ask them to bring it, along with their own personal ID, to a Passport Canada office or a diplomatic representation of the Government of Canada. The document will be validated there and transmitted to us via secure electronic channels to form part of your application.

Please be advised that the issuance of a replacement travel document is entirely at Passport Canada’s discretion. Processing times may change depending on the volume of applications received and are not guaranteed. Complexity of routine verifications and security checks leads to longer processing times. Consular officials at the Consulate of Canada in Chiang Mai will be able to provide him with processing times once your son visits their office.

Should your son require any additional assistance, grateful if you could share our contact information with him. Your son can call us at the Emergency Watch and Response Centre (available 24/7) at 001-800-156-220-0142 (toll-free from Thailand)  or reply to this email should he have any further questions or concerns.

I was also given the following information in another email.

** For all Passport services (including notarization of PPTC-132) at the Embassy in Bangkok or Consulate in Chiang Mai, no appointment is necessary. To submit these applications in person, please use our walk-in service. The Consular service hours are every weekday morning from 9:00 until 12:00 noon (except on embassy holidays). Check our website for information on business hours, public holidays and access map to the Embassy: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/thailand-thailande/contact-contactez.aspx?lang=eng&view=d

**The passport normal processing time is around 2-3 weeks including mailing system, please have him check his visa validity.  In case he needs to travel sooner than 20 days, he may also need to apply for temporary passport which takes 3-5 working days to issue from the day we received all required documents and proof of travel. Kindly see the temporary passport exchange agreement attached.
It would be faster if he goes to apply in person at the Embassy in Bangkok as the time for mailing back and forth between Chiang Mai and Bangkok is not counted)

And so we all learned a valuable lesson, and from now on at the very least, I will be slipping my passport into a zip lock baggie, regardless of where I travel. If you’ve experienced a similar situation, and have further information to share, please leave a comment below!

Water damaged passport – not his usual look.
Still enjoying Thailand while waiting for new passport

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