Penniless in Bangkok

A Dutch reader shares his experience in Bangkok. After checking out of his hotel he leaves his suitcase in the hotel's baggage storage. In the street a scooter man steals his handbag with his money, bank card, credit card, passport, and driver license. The only thing he still has, is his smart phone.

He reports the theft to the police and calls the Dutch embassy, However, its opening hours are limited, while the emergency number does not answer.

Back in the hotel he calls again and now a staffer answers the phone. After having explained that his passport and driver license have been stolen, the employee asks whether he can prove his citizenship!  He is flabbergasted and says he could call from a Dutch cell phone, is fluent in Dutch and recognizes the staffer's regional accent.

But that does not prove he is a Dutch national, says the employee. Then the reader recalls that the hotel made a copy of his passport at check-in. Fortunately, he can get a copy of it. He calls his father back home, who rebooks him a couple of hours before the scheduled departure time on a flight 3 days later.

The next day he reports to the embassy that is able to provide him with an emergency passport in 2-3 days. They will call him when it is ready, but only to a Thai phone number! Fortunately, he can give the number of a Thai acquaintance.

Two days later his emergency passport is ready and he is able to pick it up just before closing time. Once back home he gets acquainted with the Dutch bureaucracy If your passport is missing while you are abroad you need to report it to the local police and perhaps also in the Netherlands, but that varies by municipality.

According to the police it is not necessary in his city. He can apply for a new passport by showing the foreign police report.

In the city hall, however, an official says that he needs to report the passport theft to the police first. When he responds that this is not necessary according to the police, the civil servant says he cannot prove that he is a Dutch national, while he shows her his emergency passport!


That is not sufficient according to her. He must show a passport or driver license and she wants to confiscate his emergency passport.

He refuses, of course. Luckily, another civil servant gets involved. He is more reasonable and will look after a new driver license, which our reader can use to apply for a new passport.

The lesson is clear: always carry a copy of your passport if you go abroad and keep it separate from your passport.

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