Found a passport. Now what?
October 5, 2006 6:31 AM   Subscribe

I found a passport in the gutter at the end of my driveway this morning. Now what?

I believe it may belong to someone visiting my neighbor and will check there tonight when I return home. It was too early to bother them this morning.

Let's say they do not know the passport's owner. What do I do with it? I'd really like to see it returned to the owner.
posted by onhazier to Law & Government (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hand it in to the police station. Put a notice up near where you found it saying that's what you have done.
posted by handee at 6:33 AM on October 5, 2006

What flavour passport is it? European passports have a box to fill in the person's next of kin's emergency contact details, so if it's one of those you could try phoning or even writing to one of them.
posted by randomination at 6:40 AM on October 5, 2006

I'd say; just go to the police. They've got the mechanisms to get this back to the right person.
posted by flameproof at 6:42 AM on October 5, 2006

I'll third the `take it to the police' idea, if it doesn't belong to your neighbour's visitor.
posted by tomble at 6:48 AM on October 5, 2006

It is an USian passport? My sister lost hers on the el. The guy who picked it up looked her up in the phone book, found my parents, called them. She drove to his office and picked it up.

If it's not an USian passport, call the consulate of the country that issued it and do what they tell you to do (probably mail it to them).
posted by crush-onastick at 6:51 AM on October 5, 2006

Don't give it the police. Odds are good they don't have enough staff to deal with this, and they'll just put it in a lost-and-found box on the off chance that whoever lost it thinks to go to the correct station for the correct jurisdiction. And in Northern Virginia there are a number of different jurisdictions.

Call the U.S. lost or stolen passport office, at (202) 955-0430. Depending on what part of Northern Virginia you're in, it shouldn't even be a long distance call. They're open 24 hours a day.

Or mail it here:
U.S. Department of State
Passport Services
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
posted by croutonsupafreak at 6:55 AM on October 5, 2006

Thank you for the suggestions. It is a US passport. If the neighbor does not know the owner, I'll follow croutonsupafreak's suggestion.
posted by onhazier at 6:59 AM on October 5, 2006

Definitely Google the owner before you mail it to the Department of State.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:05 AM on October 5, 2006

Do not "Google" the owner. Your passport is, pardon the expression, serious business and not the appropriate opportunity for somebody to play amateur gumshoe. Don't fuck around. If you have a good idea that it belongs to your neighbor, then by all means ring his doorbell — but if not, then mail it directly to the State Department.
posted by cribcage at 7:11 AM on October 5, 2006

Do Google the owner, look them up in the phonebook, and otherwise try to get in touch with them right now if at all possible. Most people keep their passport tucked away unless they are traveling somewhere. Chances are that the owner is standing in an airport somewhere about now, panicking. Calling the lost and stolen passport number above is also a good idea.

What would you want if the situation were reversed--that the finder left your passport with some unknown third parties that you may or may not know enough to call, or that they called you and said, "Hey, your passport is OK, come and get it."
posted by LarryC at 7:28 AM on October 5, 2006

I'm sure you've already looked through it, but just in case: Page 7 of the US passport is page where people are supposed to write in their contact details.

Also, by all means exercise some GoogleFu and find out if it belongs to someone in your neighborhood. People usually only have their passports out when they're getting ready to travel internationally, and the delay of dealing with the State Department can completely destroy your travel plans.
posted by tkolar at 7:30 AM on October 5, 2006

This isn't as time sensitive as people are making out. As soon as the owner finds out their passport is missing they'll report it lost/stolen and it becomes invalid and useless; even to the original owner. Calling the lost/stolen number will also invalidate the passport.
posted by Mitheral at 8:12 AM on October 5, 2006

Just mail it to the passport office or, since you're in the DC area, drop it off there.

There, taken care of.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 9:45 AM on October 5, 2006

What country is the passport for? If it's not US, I'd call the embassy for the country of origin. If I lost my passport abroad, I'd call the embassy to find out how to get a replacement. Wouldn't it be nice if it were waiting for me?
posted by plinth at 10:48 AM on October 5, 2006

I lost my passport when I was riding my bike about three or four miles from my house*. Someone mailed it back to me (I think I wrote my address in pencil on that little "this passport belongs to page"). I was very very happy about this because I wasn't looking forward to dealing with all the bullshit of getting a new one.

Now it's true that if I didn't have a current address in there, it wouldn't have gotten to me, but I guess that'd be my own damn fault then.

If they do have their address in there, I'd just mail it to them.

*(i was riding to check on my chevy that I had abandoned because the head cracked, and it fell out of my back pocket -- I was carrying it because my driver's license had got jacked alongside my wallet when I got beat up at a party -- real string of good luck that time of year)
posted by fishfucker at 10:55 AM on October 5, 2006

plinth writes "Wouldn't it be nice if it were waiting for me?"

Makes no difference, the embassy won't give it to you.
posted by Mitheral at 10:58 AM on October 5, 2006

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