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What Is a Temporary Passport?

A temporary passport is an emergency travel document, typically issued under urgent circumstances, allowing individuals to return home or continue their journey when their regular passport is unavailable. It's a short-term solution, often with limited validity. To ensure a smooth trip, it's crucial to understand the specific conditions under which one can be obtained. How might a temporary passport affect your travel plans?
Alex Tree
Alex Tree

Also known as an emergency passport, a temporary passport is used in circumstances where the traveler must begin travel quickly and does not have a usable passport. These types of passports are available only when expedited passport processing is too slow. The application process of getting an emergency passport is similar to getting a new one, so the traveler will need documents proving citizenship and identity in addition to passport photos. Losing a passport or having it stolen are usually not grounds for getting passport fees waived; in fact, getting a temporary passport sometimes requires the traveler to pay a relatively expensive fee.

A temporary passport is used when it is impossible for a person to get a passport through normal methods quickly enough. This situation usually arises when a normal passport is lost, stolen, or if a person did not have a passport to begin with and now must urgently go abroad. An emergency passport is used for the same purposes a normal passport is used for, though some countries place additional restrictions on passports for temporary use. In addition to expiring quickly, for example, temporary passports can often only be used to go to a single destination country, and then it expires. These passports usually come in a booklet form similar to a regular passport and contain the same personal details.

A temporary passport may be needed when a normal passport is lost or stolen.
A temporary passport may be needed when a normal passport is lost or stolen.

Depending on the issuing country, temporary passports may be issued on a case-by-case basis. A person seeking a passport on a temporary basis might have to provide a lot of details about his or her situation and why he or she feels purchasing the passport is necessary. In some cases, such as when a passport is stolen, the citizen is required to submit a police report along with his or her application for a temporary passport. Most countries will only consider giving someone a temporary passport if he or she convinces the governing agency that urgent travel is necessary, and normal passport procedures will not suffice. Furthermore, if a lost or stolen passport has expired, it sometimes rules out the possibility of getting a temporary one.

If necessary, U.S. citizens have several options for expediting a passport application.
If necessary, U.S. citizens have several options for expediting a passport application.

The cost of getting an emergency passport is usually the price of a regular passport, plus the cost of the fastest passport processing method available. Due to this, these passports are often very costly. Combined with the fact that some passport services issue the documents only on a case-by-case basis, they are mostly used as a last resort.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a temporary passport and when might I need one?

A temporary passport, also known as an emergency passport, is a short-term travel document issued under urgent circumstances. You might need one if your regular passport is lost, stolen, or damaged while you're abroad, or if you must travel immediately due to an emergency and don't have time to obtain a standard passport. Temporary passports typically have a limited validity period and may not be accepted by all countries.

How long is a temporary passport valid for?

Temporary passports are generally valid for a very limited time, often ranging from a few months up to one year. The exact validity period depends on the issuing country's regulations. For instance, the United States issues emergency passports that are typically valid for one year. It's crucial to check the expiration date and ensure it covers the duration of your travel plans.

Can I travel anywhere with a temporary passport?

Not all countries accept temporary passports, and some may have specific entry requirements. It's essential to verify the entry regulations of your destination country before traveling with a temporary passport. According to the U.S. Department of State, certain countries may require a visa or may not permit entry on an emergency passport. Always check with the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit.

How do I apply for a temporary passport?

To apply for a temporary passport, you typically need to visit a passport issuing authority, often an embassy or consulate, in the country where you are located. You'll need to provide proof of identity, travel itinerary, police reports for lost or stolen passports, and possibly evidence of the emergency necessitating immediate travel. The application process and required documentation can vary, so it's best to consult the specific country's government website for detailed instructions.

Are there any special considerations when using a temporary passport?

When using a temporary passport, be aware of its limited validity and the potential need for visas. Some countries may grant entry with less scrutiny on a full-term passport but require additional documentation for temporary passports. Additionally, you should plan for the possibility of delays at border controls, as officers may need to perform extra checks. Always carry supporting documents, such as an itinerary or letter explaining your situation, to facilitate smoother travel.

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Discussion Comments


These governmental agencies probably handle hundreds maybe even thousands of these requests weekly and they have set rules and guidelines in handling each case individually. One thing to also consider is that these agencies have handled so many cases and have gone through so much reform over the years that their experiences make it a lot more difficult for the wrong people to obtain temporary passports.


@kentuckycat- I understand yours and Izzy78's concern towards governmental agencies issuing temporary passports to the wrong people but it is their job to make sure mistakes are not made and they have well established rules and guidelines in dealing with every request on a case by case basis.

Each and every request for a temporary passport is looked at individually and the reasons for requesting one has to be thoroughly explained. Most temporary passport requests are made in regards to having a passport stolen, which is not at all unusual and set guidelines have been set in dealing with this situation.

For other types of requests I guarantee that they are looked at by the appropriate people and heavily scrutinized. You can never be too careful nowadays with international travel but with the all the red tape that one has to go through to receive a passport in the first place it is very difficult for the wrong people to obtain a temporary passport.


@Izzy78- I agree. Today government's have to be extra careful concerning those who request a temporary passport. Although many of the requests are innocent a governmental agency cannot be too careful in issuing these passports. Even though most of these are issued due to emergencies great thought and care has to be put into issuing these passports to the right people.


I've always wondered what process someone has to go through if they were to lose their passport or have it stolen. I have to imagine though in today's times obtaining an emergency passport requires extreme background checks and anytime someone applies for an emergency passport those who issue them immediately take note of the requests and proceed with caution.

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    • A temporary passport may be needed when a normal passport is lost or stolen.
      By: AR Images
      A temporary passport may be needed when a normal passport is lost or stolen.
    • If necessary, U.S. citizens have several options for expediting a passport application.
      By: HappyAlex
      If necessary, U.S. citizens have several options for expediting a passport application.