One of the many things travelers have to consider while planning a trip is safety. Travelers to Belarus can put their fears to rest, since Belarus is a pretty safe country. That said, it never hurts to come prepared. So here’s some information you will hopefully never need, but have just in case.
112 - Emergency service
102 - Police
103 - Ambulance
Your insurance company number. If you got your medical insurance in Belarus, either from Belgosstrakh or Beleximgarant, you’ll require one of these phone numbers
Losing a passport or having it stolen abroad is certainly frustrating, but it’s not the end of the world. It will probably eat up some of your time, money, and nerve cells, but in the end you’ll be alright. If this happens, you must:
Step 1. Contact the police at once
The moment you realize your passport is missing, contact the police. This will begin the process of getting a replacement passport and a new one at home. This also blocks any further use of your existing passport, so that no one can exploit your identity.
The police will ask for details about your lost passport. Don’t hold back any information, be straightforward and honest, and if you think it was stolen, mention that as well. This information allows them take an accurate statement. They’ll give you a copy of your statement in the form of a legal document, officially stating that your passport is missing and then direct you to your country’s Embassy or Consulate, or give you their contact info.
One note before heading to the police station: have a local accompany you to the station to help the process go smoother. This will help bridge the language gap and save you time and effort in explaining your grievance to the police officer.
Step 2. Contact your Embassy or Consulate
Learn the address, phone number and office hours of your Embassy or Consulate and go there when they are open. If you don’t have Internet access on hand, ask a hotel clerk, a cabman, or even a passer-by. Tip: young people are more likely to help you out, since they tend to speak some English and have mobile Internet and map apps on their smartphones and tablets. Bring the police statement with you; otherwise, the embassy may send you back to get one... bringing you back to step 1.
If the Embassy is closed for the day or for the weekend, there’s no point in hanging out there. Nor is there any reason to wallow in misery in your hotel room. Go out and have some fun, see some places you haven’t planned to visit and try to enjoy yourself.
Step 3. Gather the papers for the Embassy
The procedure of getting a replacement passport varies from country to country, but basically, you have to provide the Embassy with all necessary documents to prove your identity, the list of which you’ll be given there. This may include a picture of you, a copy of your passport, filling out some forms, etc. Pro tip: storing your passport photo on all your devices and cloud services will prove to be of great help as a time and money saver, should such a need arise.
It is also wise to notify someone at home about your current predicament, so they can send you some of the documents you require for the Embassy, and if possible, some additional money. This will also prevent them from worrying when you don’t come back home according to the original plan.
Usually, a temporary passport will be available to you within a few hours of turning in all of your documentation. You’ll need a credit card or cash to pay the replacement fee. Before it’s issued, you’ll be asked to verify your information. Then you sign some papers and there you go, you have a replacement passport. In addition, they may give you a form or a verbal explanation of how to get a permanent passport when you arrive home.
Step 4. Rebook your ticket home
Yes, you read it right. There’s no need to buy a new ticket if you have to miss your original departure, especially as far as plane tickets are concerned. Just contact your airline representative (or multiple airline representatives, if you have any connecting flights with another airline) and explain the situation. Every airline has special rules for such cases, but the rule of thumb is that you can rebook your ticket for another date for a modest fee compared to the purchase of a new one.
International train and bus companies follow the same routine, and if your ticket hasn’t expired, you can even use it with a new passport, provided the name printed on the ticket is identical to the one on your passport.
Step 5. Hold on to your replacement passport
Aside from the fact that losing your replacement passport would be unfortunate and embarrassing, it could arouse suspicion that you’re smuggling illegal immigrants or terrorists into the country, sending a red flag to your country’s security services. That means next time you go to get a replacement passport or any other temporary document to prove your identity, the process is going to be a lot more complicated and you’ll be watched closely.
We sincerely hope you’ll require none of this information during your trip to Belarus, but it never hurts to have it handy nonetheless.
Travel smart! Travel safe!
Text by Michael Feller