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I lost my passport and my Real ID. Oh, and my arm is broken. Now what?

(Steven Banks Los Angeles Times / Getty )

A reader asked for help after she lost her passport and Real ID driver’s license. She needed identification quickly.

As if losing one’s identity documents weren’t enough, she also broke her arm.

To use a technical term, she’s in a pickle, and there are no easy answers. It’s especially difficult because some involve online technology, which can be difficult for those who are afraid of it, have a physical infirmity or little tolerance for ambiguity.

Some agencies that provide services to seniors who need help with technology are not available because of coronavirus precautions. If someone can help who lives with you and is trustworthy, this may be the best route.

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Here are the options.

Replacing a passport

The Los Angeles Passport Agency has what it calls “extremely limited U.S. passport operations” because of the coronavirus. It warns applicants about months-long delays to get a new passport, and it discourages anyone who doesn’t have a life-or-death emergency to “wait until we resume normal operations to apply for or renew your passport.”

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Although some passport receiving centers, many at post offices, are open, they urge customers not to apply for passports now so urgent passport requests can be fulfilled. They also warn of processing times that may be as long as four months.

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The State Department’s website (travel.state.gov) offers form DS-64 to report a lost or stolen passport along with a DS-11 passport application. The application, the State Department said, must be submitted in person.

Replacing a driver’s license

Getting a new driver’s license to replace the lost one is a bit easier, but it does involve using technology.

To apply for a duplicate license online, you must have a DMV account, which means you need your email address and your password.

Following the prompts is easy enough, and the process will take less than 20 minutes. If you already have a Real ID, you can re-apply. If you want a Real ID but don’t have one, you’ll have to visit the DMV. Real ID is the federally compliant driver’s license that will be required to board a domestic flight beginning Oct. 1, 2021 (it was delayed a year), if you do not have some other form of federally compliant identification, such as a passport, passport card or Global Entry or other Trusted Traveler card.

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If you cannot complete this transaction online, you will need to visit your DMV. The good news is that DMV field offices, including those in Arleta, Fontana, Fullerton, Glendale, Inglewood, Lancaster, Los Angeles, Montebello, Palm Desert and Santa Ana, reopened May 8.

Appointments may be difficult to come by, but the DMV said in a statement that it will process “DMV Express customers for Real ID transactions if time and space allow.” (An Express customer is one who has filled out the Real ID application online and has the correct documents.)

Social distancing protocols are in place, as are sanitation procedures.

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The DMV also maintains something called “virtual field offices.” It doesn’t currently offer driver’s license renewal, but it does offer a host of tasks that might otherwise require a visit to the DMV. And the DMV has 360 self-service kiosks at offices, groceries and elsewhere. For a list of what you can and cannot do, visit the kiosk website at cadmvnowkiosk.com/faq/. To find a kiosk near you, go to cadmvnowkiosk.com/kiosks/.

Have a travel problem, dilemma or question: Write to travel@latimes.com. We regret we cannot answer every inquiry.


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