Lost or damaged property overseas
Losing or damaging your property overseas can be upsetting, inconvenient and expensive. Losing some items can also put you at risk of fraud or identity theft.
This page provides general advice on what to do if you lose or damage your property overseas. Explore this page to learn:
- what to do if you lose or damage property overseas
- how to claim lost or damaged items on travel insurance
- how the Australian Government can and can't help
This page is for lost or damaged property. If someone has stolen property from you, see robbed or mugged.
What to do if you lose or damage property overseas
- Lost or damaged passport
- Lost money or credit card
- Lost phone
- Other lost or damaged valuables
- Lost luggage
I’ve lost or damaged my passport
If you lose your passport overseas, you need to act quickly. You face additional risks and issues.
You could end up a victim of identity fraud (Australian Federal Police).
In some countries, you could be arrested or jailed for not having your passport on you. Without it, you won't be able to leave the country to get home.
Also see our information about passports overseas.
I've lost my money or credit card
If you've run up a bill at a hotel, restaurant or elsewhere and can't pay for it, you could be arrested or jailed.
If you lose your credit card you could become a victim of credit card fraud. A person could use your card to make local or online purchases.
You need to act quickly.
- Contact your bank immediately. Tell them what's happened so they can cancel or block your cards quickly.
- Contact your travel insurer. You may need to make a claim. They may help get you some emergency funds.
- Contact your friends and family back home. Ask them to send funds to you through a bank or money transfer service.
Only contact the CEC for help as a last resort, or if you're in serious trouble. You should exhaust all other avenues first.
See our advice on money problems overseas.
I've lost my phone
If you've lost your phone, act quickly. If someone finds your phone and gets past your lock screen, you could have long-term problems. You could be at risk of identity theft (Australian Federal Police).
People have a lot of personal information saved in their phones. Many also have their email, banking and other passwords stored in their mobile. You must protect your information.
- Use your online lock and locate feature. Hopefully, it's just misplaced and you can still find where you left it.
- If you can't get it back, use your phone's remote wipe feature.
I've lost or damaged my jewellery, camera, device or other valuables
It's upsetting, expensive and inconvenient to lose or damage an electronic device while travelling. This is one of the things travel insurance is for.
- Contact your travel insurer. Find out about their claims process.
- If lost, report it to the local police. Many insurers ask for a police report as part of the claims process.
- If you find out your item isn't covered and need a replacement urgently, contact your family and friends. They may be able to help you get a replacement.
Don't contact the Consular Emergency Centre if you've lost or damaged a personal item. The Australian Government can't help you locate your lost item, or help pay for a replacement.
Understand how and when we can help. Read the Consular Service Charter.
I've lost luggage
Lost luggage is a common problem for travellers. However if it went missing in transit, it may just be delayed.
Delayed baggage is especially common with airlines. Sometimes they put bags on the wrong flight. They end up in the wrong airport. Talk to your airline before declaring your bags lost.
- Think about what was in your missing bag or suitcase. Take immediate action if it contained your passport, credit card or phone. You're at risk of fraud and identity theft.
- If your luggage was lost in transit, contact your transport provider. Most major airlines, rail, coach and cruise companies have processes and policies in place for luggage lost while in their care.
- Contact your travel insurer. You may want to make a claim.
The Australian government can't help with lost or delayed luggage. It's not a consular emergency. Read the Consular Service Charter to understand how and when we can help.
Claiming lost or damaged items on travel insurance
What's covered by insurance?
Your travel insurer may cover the replacement costs for lost or damaged items. It depends if the item and situation is covered by your policy.
Check the fine print, or contact your insurer and ask.
Learn more about travel insurance.
Replacement items and expenses
In some cases, your insurer can also help you coordinate replacements while you're overseas. Some will also cover the cost to change your plans while dealing with your lost items.
Travel insurers usually have item limits. If you're item is more expensive and you didn't declare it before you left, they may not cover it at all. If they do, it will only be to the limit.
The situation surrounding the incident can affect your claim. This includes where you were and what you were doing at the time.
Most policies won't cover lost or damaged items if:
- you were drinking, or using drugs
- you're in a destination where our advice level is 'Do not travel'
- you were doing an activity that was excluded (unless you paid to include it as an extra)
- the incident occurred while your item was in the care of another party, such as an airline
Be aware that an insurer could deny your claim based on the situation, even if it didn't cause the incident directly.
How to claim
To learn how to make a claim, contact your travel insurer. Their details will be on your policy paperwork. Most have 24 hour phone lines you can call from overseas. Some have online claims systems.
- Before you submit your claim, check the fineprint in your policy. Make sure your item and the situation is covered.
- Ask you insurer how long it takes to process your claim. It may take awhile. In some cases, they may pay out long after you've returned home.
- If you need the replacement item urgently, you may have to pay out of pocket before the claim is finalised. In this case, keep your receipt. Your insurer may need it before reimbursing you.
- If you need money in an emergency, talk to your insurer. Ask if they have provisions to get you emergency funds. Otherwise, ask family and friends.
- You'll usually have an excess to pay. Sometimes the excess is more that the item is worth.
Follow your insurer's instructions to submit your claim. Remember to include all your supporting documentation, including the police report. If your claim is incomplete, you'll delay the process.
Find contact details for travel insurers in Australia. See Find an Insurer (Insurance Council of Australia).
Be honest in your claim. Even a slight exaggeration on an items value, or tweaking facts of the situation to suit the PDS, is fraud (Attorney-General's Department). Insurance companies regularly investigate and audit claims. You could be charged with fraud when you return home to Australia.
Learn more about insurance fraud (Insurance Council of Australia).
If you're claim is denied
If you're insurer rejects your claim, you'll have to cover your replacement costs yourself.
You can appeal their decision. Most insurers have an internal appeal process you can follow. Contact them to find out.
If you've exhausted their appeals process, you can make a complaint to the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
How the Australian Government can help with lost or damaged property
Unless it's a passport, dealing with lost or damaged property is not typically the responsibility of consular services. In most cases, you need to take steps to resolve the situation yourself.
Understand how and when we can help Australians overseas. Read the Consular Services Charter.
What we can do
- We can help you get a replacement passport, or emergency passport.
- We can support you to report your lost passport to the Australian Passport Office and police in Australia.
- We can give you a list of local lawyers that speak English. You may need a lawyer if you're arrested or jailed for not paying your bill, or not having your passport on you.
What we can't do
- We can't help you replace your items, unless it's a passport.
- We can't loan or give you money to replace your items.
- We can't help you find your lost property, or conduct investigations.
- We can't help you with your travel insurance claim.
- We can't receive packages for you. We're not a post office. Ship your replacement items to a local post office, or your accommodation.
- Act quickly if your passport is lost, stolen or damaged overseas. See passports overseas.
- If you've lost your cards or cash, you may have issues. See money problems overseas
- If you think someone has stolen your property, see robbed or mugged.
- Understand how and when we can help. Read the Consular Services Charter.
- Report a missing passport immediately. Find an Australian embassy or consulate overseas (DFAT).
- Learn about identity fraud (Australian Federal Police).
- False or misleading insurance claims are fraud (Attorney-General's Department).
- Learn what to do if someone else has your identity documents (iDcare).
- Find contact details for travel insurers in Australia. See Find an Insurer (Insurance Council of Australia).
You are responsible for your finances overseas. If you run out of money while you're away, contact family or friends. They may be able to transfer money to you.
Getting medical assistance overseas can be challenging and expensive, especially in an emergency. Read our advice on what to do when when you need help.