Delayed flights, misplaced luggage, or getting lost in translation in a non-English-speaking country… you think these are the worst things that can happen during travel.
But the actual worst thing just happened to me – I lost my passport in Madrid.
Arrival in Madrid Airport
When I got around to posting about it on my Facebook wall, people were asking me what happened: Was it stolen or picked out of your pocket? Did you leave it somewhere? Did it fall from your bag?
What adds to the sadness and frustration is that I actually do not know what happened. I have no explanation for it. All I know is I was holding my passport wallet the entire time, and I just realized I lost it while en route to Avila.
Upon arrival in Madrid Barajas Airport, our tour guide Mercedez Villanueava welcomed me at the passengers’ exit in the arrival area. We waited around the airport for other tour participants before we went on our way to Avila.
When I travel, I usually bring a travel wallet to help me organize my passport and travel documents, foreign currency and miles card. I always keep it handy while in the airport premises so I can easily grab my passport and travel documents before exiting the immigration area.
My Passport Wallet
While on the bus on our way to Avila, the first province we visited in our itinerary, one of my tour buddies asked our guide about our first activity in the city. I decided to reach for my passport wallet to check my printed itinerary – that’s when I realized my passport wallet was no longer with me.
Everyone noticed my unease, and I told them I couldn’t find my passport. My tour mates tried to calm me down and help me check my belongings and around the bus for it. I really appreciated that they helped me clear my mind and stay focused instead of panicking.
We even quickly stopped at a station along the highway to check the bus luggage compartment and see if it was accidentally placed there. But no luck there. It was definitely frustrating but I tried to relax and avoid affecting the mood of everyone else on the tour.
Police Station in Avila
Our tour guide tried to contact the Airport Police and the Lost and Found department at the airport, but to no avail. I just decided to wait and hope that we receive a call from anyone who found my passport.
The trip to Madrid to secure help from the Philippine Embassy
After finishing our whole day of activities in Avila, Spain, I decided to contact the Spain Tourism Board to let them know what happened. They helped me by finding out the steps to get a travel document, which will allow me to fly to Manila just in case I don’t find my passport in time.
After having breakfast on our second day, I decided not to join the activities and instead head to Madrid to visit the Philippine Embassy to secure a travel document. Our tour guide accompanied me to the Avila Police Station, where I secured a Police Report which was a requirement for processing travel documents.
After a two-hour bus ride from Avila, I finally reached Madrid and proceeded to the Philippine Embassy.
When you lose your passport abroad, you have the option to apply for a new one at a Philippine Embassy there. But applying for a new passport while in Madrid was not an option for me since it takes 15 days to process. My only option was to secure a temporary travel document.
In case something similar happens to you (but I sincerely wish it never does), here are the requirements and documents you need to bring:
- Personal appearance of the applicant
- Duly completed Travel Document form (available at the Philippine Embassy)
- Police Report (from any cities in Spain)
- 2 passport photos 4.5 cm x 3.5 cm in size with white background
- Passport Copy – Photocopy of your passport
- Return Flight Ticket
The fee to process a travel document is € 27.00. And it helped that I had a scanned copy of my passport and travel documents. I suggest you do the same every time you travel – save it as an attachment to your email or have the files ready on a mobile device.
Philippine Embassy in Madrid
Upon arrival at the Philippine Embassy, I was asked to fill out a form that included an explanation on how I lost my passport. I was lucky I arrived early at the embassy and I was able to get my travel document the same day.
Travel Document from the Philippine Embassy in Madrid
All my thanks to the Philippine Embassy in Madrid, whose staff were so efficient and friendly. I just wish all the government agencies are doing the same. After securing my documents, I got on a bus headed for Salamanca, where I met up with everyone else.
All the worries were gone after I got my travel documents, I just enjoyed my trip as if nothing happened.
Before I left Madrid for Manila, I left my hotel early to allot more time. I visited the lost and found and the police department just to check, but my passport was not surrendered there.
Having to apply for a new passport back in the Philippines means I will have to miss my Paris and Japan trip – visa applications for which will both need my passport.
It was an unfortunate travel event, which I hope others will learn. Time to move on – I’m applying for a new passport soon.
I may have lost my passport in Madrid but my week in Spain remains a truly irreplaceable experience. Losing my Passport may not be a welcoming experience but discovering this part of Spain is a totally different story. Spain is definitely a must-visit country for everyone.
The Philippine Embassy Madrid is in Calle Eresma 2, 28002 Madrid. Call them at telephone numbers +34 91 782 3830 or +34 616 491 861. Or email them at email@example.com.
In case of emergencies in Madrid, you may call the following:
Madrid Barajas Airport Police Department
Telephone: 913 010 900
Madrid Barajas Airport Lost and Found Department
Telephone: +34 91 393 61 19 or +34 91 746 64 39.