There are few travel nightmares more terrifying than arriving at the airport without the proper identification. If you’re currently freaking out in the departures hall, take a deep breath. Although it will probably be a difficult process, it is not impossible to board your flight.
Arrival at the airport as early as possible. Passengers who travel without a form of identification will need to go through interviews with TSA agents for the determination of their identity, and airlines will not refund tickets for people who missed their flights due to a lost ID.
The first step is to explain your situation to an airline representative at the counter. Come prepared with additional forms of identification (credit card, business card, the registration of voters, even mail or prescription medications with your name and address). If you are traveling with family that have their own identification, a family photo can work even. As soon as the airline representative is satisfied that you are who you say you are, they will have a boarding pass with a note that you have no ID.
To safety and explain the situation to TSA agents. An agent will probably take you a second room for an extra security check. “The TSA officer may ask you to provide a verification of the identity process that consists of collecting information, such as your name, current address and other personal information to confirm your identity,” according to the TSA website.
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If the agent is able to confirm your identity, you will be allowed to enter by security after additional screening.
The process is more difficult when flying abroad, as individual countries decide whether or not to allow travelers without identification. Travelers who lose their Id’s in abroad, you must immediately contact the nearest embassy of the united states for assistance in replacing their passport.
Although it may be too late, the best defense is preparation. If your id card is stolen, obtain a police report. This is logged when and where your identification is missing (providing proof of your story and confirm your identity. Travelers should have a photocopy or a digital scan of their identification easily accessible. (Think of the storage of this in a private Dropbox account.) Sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to departure for a trip. This will make it easier to get help from the embassy in the foreign country.
And the most important thing is: stay calm and polite. Airline securityand the passport control employees are more likely to help you on your flight if you are cooperative.
This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure