What to do with a Minor Water Damaged Passport?

What to do with a Minor Water Damaged Passport?

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A quick swim or a sudden downpour can turn your excitement of international travel into a potential nightmare if your passport ends up wet.

So, how do you deal with a passport that’s been slightly water damaged? What steps should you take to ensure smooth travel? It’s quite frustrating, we know and in this blog post, we aim to provide them properly.

How to Tell When A Passport Is Damaged

Before we go to our steps, what exactly counts as a damaged passport?

While we have an article on this, let’s take a quick overview:

Generally speaking, a passport is considered damaged if its condition could potentially hinder the verification of the passport or the identity of the passport holder. For modern passports, this happens when the chip is not working.

But let’s break it down further.

Minor wear and tear – think creased pages or a somewhat faded cover – are usually acceptable. But when it comes to serious damage, the lines are very clear.

Water damage that leaves your data page illegible? That’s a problem. A torn or missing visa page? Definitely an issue. Significant damage to the book cover? You bet that’s trouble.

Passports damaged by water
Passports damaged as a result of minor water | Source: Travel + Leisure

The technological aspect of modern passports could also play a role in this.

If your passport has a chip – and most do these days – any damage that might interfere with the chip’s functioning is a serious problem. That includes deep scratches, holes, or bends on the cover where the chip is located.

Related: How to Check If Passport Chip Works

Also, depending on the country, policies could vary. For instance, below is the US’s policy regarding the issue.

In the next section of this post, we’ll discuss what to do if you find that your passport is indeed damaged.

What to do with a Minor Water Damaged Passport?

Now, the first thing to understand is what we mean by ‘minor’ water damage.

If your passport got slightly wet and the pages are just a tad crinkly but all the information – your photo, personal details, and any visa stamps – are still clearly legible, that’s generally considered minor water damage.

So, what do you do?

First, gently dab the passport with a soft cloth to remove any excess water. Then, place it on a flat surface, open, and let it air dry naturally.

An illustration of not using a hair dryer to clean a wet passport

Avoid the temptation to use a hairdryer or any heat source to quicken the process – you could end up doing more harm than good.

Once it’s dry, carefully check all the important pages. Is your personal information still clearly visible? Can you easily read the visa stamps and any other endorsements? If the answer is yes, you might be in luck.

But here’s the catch- even with minor damage, it’s always a good idea to consult with the appropriate passport authority in your country.

Rules vary, and what one country might accept, another could refuse. But usually, the question is whether the passport can be scanned or not.

Steps to Take for a Completely Damaged Passport

When we say ‘completely damaged,’ we’re referring to passports where the main information or pages are illegible or missing, or the electronic chip is non-functional.

In such cases, sadly, there’s no other way around it – you’ll need to replace your passport.

First things first, don’t just throw the damaged passport away! It’s still an official document and needs to be surrendered when you apply for a new one.

The steps to replace a damaged passport can vary slightly depending on your country, but generally, the process is similar to applying for a first-time passport.

For instance, the US has a web page covering official procedures for recovering a damaged passport. This could also be the same for most countries. A quick search on Google should do the magic.

You’ll likely need to fill out an application form, and provide proof of citizenship, a valid ID, and a recent photo that meets the passport photo requirements.

When you’re filling out your application, there’s usually a section asking why you need a new passport. Be honest and clear that your previous passport was damaged. Misrepresenting the condition of your passport can lead to serious consequences.

And remember, it’s always better to start this process sooner rather than later. Expedited services are often available if you need to travel urgently, but these can cost extra.

Final Thoughts

Identifying whether your passport is damaged might save you from a lot of stress, especially when you’re about to embark on an international journey. Always remember – if there’s any doubt in your mind, get it checked out. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

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