After having my passport and laptop stolen in Ecuador, I was definitely ready to leave that country, and was eager to continue my journey. I had been looking forward to backpacking in Colombia, after hearing so much from friends and fellow travellers, but was nervous to see if I would have any problems entering Colombia with an emergency passport. I had already experienced crossing borders in most of South America, so hopefully this would be no different!
After leaving Quito, I spent a couple of nights in Otavalo, and then headed north to the border with Colombia. It was getting dark as I arrived in the border town of Tulcán, still on the Ecuadorian side, so instead of cross the border in the dark I decided to stay the night at in a dive hotel for $7. The room was all you would expect for $7: basic, and not that clean, but still a bed and a bathroom! The next morning I headed to the border to see if I would be able to cross the border with my emergency passport.
Leaving Ecuador was actually trickier than entering Colombia; there was a big queue at immigration which seemed to last forever. I was given a replacement “Tarjeta Andina” immigration card to complete and hand over to the immigration officer, and was already clinging to all the other documents I thought I might need. When it was finally my turn, the officer wanted to check everything – the photocopy of my old passport, the police report to say it had been stolen, my new passport, the date I arrived in Ecuador… She was very thorough but was finally satisfied, and gave me my exit stamp. Relieved that step one was completed, I collected all the paperwork and walked across the bridge to Colombian immigration.
Most borders in South America are relatively easy to cross, and are often separated by a natural divider such as a river. The border here between Ecuador and Colombia was no different, except that this is the only recommended land crossing across the whole of the border. I was also nervous given that this was Colombia, and was expecting to be stopped, searched for drugs, or for anything else I may be carrying, and had no idea what to expect. Of course I had nothing illegal on me, but I always have that strange feeling I am doing something wrong! As I walked over the bridge, there were a couple of policemen, but so far no searches. Plenty of money changers offered Colombian pesos in exchange for dollars, but I had already got some pesos so avoided their eager offers.
Entering Colombia with an Emergency Passport
The queue to enter Colombia was shorter than on the Ecuadorian side, so I was relieved as had already spent over an hour there. I joined the queue and held my breath. A couple of policemen with sniffer dogs stood by, chatting but keeping an eye on proceedings. More money changers and taxi drivers milled around at the bottom of the stairs to the offices, touting any new traveller who arrived. I was next in the queue. The immigration officer called me to his window – I handed him my golden emergency passport, and sheepishly explained that I had the original stolen. He smiled wryly, and didn’t seem surprised.
Apparently that happens a lot in Ecuador. A quick glance at the details and he stamped my passport almost immediately. I was in Colombia!
After all that worry, it was over in less than a minute. I sat down on a bench for a moment to gather my thoughts. Entering Colombia with an emergency passport was surprisingly easy! No searches, no problems, no drug dealers smuggling anything into my bag! I grinned and hoisted my backpack over my shoulder. A new adventure was about to begin!
Travelling with an Emergency Passport
If you had your passport stolen, and have to travel with an emergency passport, you should also carry with you:
- a photocopy of the old passport if you have it (a couple of spare copies can be useful too!)
- the police report stating your passport was stolen (original and a copy kept separately)
- your new emergency passport
- your onward travel itinerary
If you are British and need help to report your old passport stolen, or information on how to apply for a new passport while abroad, check the government travel website here or read my post on how I got a replacement passport while travelling.
Other nationalities should check with their respective government or local embassy for how to proceed. Good luck!
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