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found someone's US passsport in airport remote parking lot & I dropped it in mailbox?

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Old Aug 16, 17, 8:48 pm
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found someone's US passsport in airport remote parking lot & I dropped it in mailbox?

I found someone's US passport on the ground in an airport remote parking lot. The passport looked like it had been on the ground for several days(covered in dust and dirt). The woman did not write her address or phone number. There was just a couple of stamps inside(Germany and UK?)

I had just gotten off a 15-hour nonstop flight and I was too tired to drive back into the airport to hand it in, so I took it with me.

Several blocks before my house, I pulled into the post office's parking lot and opened my car window and dropped the passport inside the mailbox. I thought the post office would just figure out how to get it back to the person or something?(at least that what I always believed)

Did I do the right thing?
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Old Aug 16, 17, 9:15 pm
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From the U.S. Department of State website:
Reporting Lost and Stolen Passports

All reported lost/stolen passports are considered invalid and placed into a U.S. port of entry database. When a United States passport is part of property taken in the course of robbery or theft, and whenever a United States passport is returned to law enforcement, this information and/or the passport itself should be returned to:

ATTN: CLASP
U.S. Department of State
CA/PPT/S/L/LE/CP
4th Floor
1150 Passport Services Pl
Dulles, VA 20189-1150
Fax: (202) 485-6555
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Old Aug 16, 17, 9:34 pm
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
From the U.S. Department of State website:
Reporting Lost and Stolen Passports


holy cow! that's where I found the passport... Dulles Airport
although I'm pretty sure any US govt address with 20189 zip code isn't actually located at Dulles, VA. It's just the post office's zip code.
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Old Aug 17, 17, 1:06 am
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You did pretty well for not knowing the official answer. Maybe a good postal employee will get it to the State Department.
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Old Aug 17, 17, 5:38 am
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Originally Posted by MrWilliamston View Post
I found someone's US passport on the ground in an airport remote parking lot. The passport looked like it had been on the ground for several days(covered in dust and dirt). The woman did not write her address or phone number. There was just a couple of stamps inside(Germany and UK?)

I had just gotten off a 15-hour nonstop flight and I was too tired to drive back into the airport to hand it in, so I took it with me.

Several blocks before my house, I pulled into the post office's parking lot and opened my car window and dropped the passport inside the mailbox. I thought the post office would just figure out how to get it back to the person or something?(at least that what I always believed)

Did I do the right thing?
If I could easily identify and verify the person's residential address, I'd pay for postage and send the passport directly back to the person to whom it was issued, upon making contact.

Ending up listed as an applicant of a previously lost/stolen passport may complicate matters for the person to whom it was issued -- domestic and international complications.

The easier way for most is to return it to the part of State that deals with lost and stolen passports, but that's not uniformly the best solution for the person who may have dropped a passport and could be reunited with it before it's misused or permanently lost.

The best way is not to just drop it in the mailbox without postage. It's to either send it back directly to the person to whom it was issued or to send it directly for LASP handling by State, best in an envelope with postage at least.
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Old Aug 17, 17, 3:32 pm
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One of the benefits of being a USPS contractor is you get a badge with an address on one side that can be dropped in a mailbox and returned to USPS.
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Old Aug 17, 17, 3:56 pm
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Somewhat unrelated but many years ago my mother had her passport lifted out of her bag in a department store in London. Thankfully we discovered it right away (shortly after she was jostled on an escalator), got information on the U.S. Consul from the store and got her a replacement passport the same day. The passport was in a wallet-like case. Strangely enough about a year later the passport and case it was in was sent back from the U.K. (London police) via the U.S. Passport Bureau and was still in the "wallet" case. Apparently the thief tossed the whole thing when no money was found in that case - the only thing he/she would have found besides the passport were the (foot) corn-pads that were in the wallet case as well. They too came back in the case. We're still laughing at that craziness - what did those London Bobbies think - those crazy Americans, corn pads ??? Nevertheless, glad that those civilized Brits sent it back and didn't destroy it. Souvenir of an otherwise great trip with my mom.

Last edited by FlyingNone; Aug 17, 17 at 7:47 pm
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Old Aug 17, 17, 4:49 pm
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OK, experts out there. The passport is found and eventually gets back to the correct office at US govt. What happens next?
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Old Aug 17, 17, 4:52 pm
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<deleted>

I was at that same post office this morning to drop off some return packages. I asked the clerk about this. She said that they get a lot of IDs(including passports), wallets, and even purses dropped in the mailboxes.

If the ID has an address on it, they throw it in an envelope and mail it to the person, with a postage required note on it, so the mailman can collect the postage. If it's a purse with ID and address inside, same thing... but in a package and the recipient is asked to pay for the standard shipping rate.

With passports, they all get shipped back to the US passport agency, but only once every 2 weeks in a large box. Apparently they get several dozen passports in the mailboxes a month, probably due to the proximity to a large international airport.

Last edited by TWA884; Aug 17, 17 at 5:38 pm Reason: Quote of deleted post
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Old Aug 17, 17, 10:59 pm
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I would have called the airport police. I found a purse once in airport parking lot, called them, and they came reasonably quickly. They do have normal patrols.
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Old Aug 17, 17, 11:10 pm
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I have to imagine that a passport dropped in a mailbox will make it to the right US authority. Remember the old days when hotels had metal room keys, and on the back they would have on the back like, "drop in any post box, we guarantee postage" and the address? I remember other objects having such messages.

If the private sector could arrange that, I have to imagine passports have something.

I don't think going to the airport police is a good idea. Best case, you get buried in paperwork / stuck in their office, worst case they think you are some weirdo who actually did something to the person.

I once found a driver's license on the sidewalk in midtown Manhattan, only a few blocks from the nearest police precinct. I thought I would drop it off with them. They thought I was a bit odd to come by, asked a bunch of questions, wasted my time, and ultimately didn't accept it.

I then did what I should have done initially, simply mail it to the address shown. I included a return address, in case the person wanted to thank me, or ideally reimburse me for the stamp. Never heard back.
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Old Aug 18, 17, 3:06 am
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I think I'd have done a quick LinkedIn and Facebook search first to see if I could easily identify the person. Of course this would be a lot more effective searching for someone like myself with a fairly uncommon name vs a Joe Smith, lol.
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Old Aug 18, 17, 9:29 am
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As with any item of value (I realize that a passport does not have a direct value), I would immediately call law enforcement.

At LGA, law enforcement left cell phones and other items around so see what people do with them and to catch thieves.

I would prefer not to be questioned by a potential thief in a "honey pot" sting.

Having said that, I would never return the passport to the individual. That is the State Department's job. Yes, it may cause some paperwork and the issuance of a new document with an endorsement that it replaces one that was lost & recovered, but it is also a protection for the passport holder if the passport was somehow improperly used.
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Old Aug 18, 17, 10:50 am
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I lost my US passport twice outside the US (marina near CPH airport and in Tokyo). I swiftly got them back from the police at the airport and the closest koban, respectively.

Generally speaking, I think it's a good idea to give it to the police near where you found it. If the person retraces his steps then it is the logical place to inquire. By the time it finds its way through the bureaucracy (via the mail system and Dept of State) the person will probably have obtained another one.

In Japan, I noticed the endless forms the poor fellow who found the passport had to fill out at the koban and there was a lot of paperwork and interrogation for me to get it back. When going through the forms they had a special template that they placed over the paperwork of the person who found it, in order to protect his identity. Unfortunately, the cop had spent a year in high school in the states, so could speak fluent English. It's a lot better when they can't speak English like when I got pulled over once.........
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Old Aug 18, 17, 8:39 pm
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My greencard says on the back 'if found please drop in any mailbox. USPS: Mail to USCIS" and then a PO box number and zip code
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