Green cards are issued to permanent residents of the United States and serve as documentary proof of eligibility to live and work in the US. Green card holders should carry their permanent residency cards with them at all times, especially when traveling outside of the US, since a green card is required of permanent residents to re-enter the US.

If you green card is lost or stolen while outside of the United States, you will not be allowed to re-enter the US without taking a few necessary steps. Individuals with lost/stolen green card should first report their lost or stolen green card to the nearest police station and obtain a police report. After doing that, they will need to obtain a transportation letter.

Transportation Letter for Lost Green Card

Individuals with a stolen or lost green card that was lost within the US do not need a transportation letter. A transportation letter for a lost or stolen green card is only required for permanent residents who have a stolen or lost green card while they are outside of the US.

A transportation letter is required to re-enter the US, authorizing the passenger carrier (such as an aircraft) to transport the individual without proper authorization.

To apply for a transportation letter, you may have to download a transportation letter application online from the US Embassy in the country you are visiting. In addition to the transportation letter application, you may be required to submit the following:

  • Photocopy of passport
  • Copy of green card (if applicable)
  • Police report of lost/stolen green card and certified translation of police report (if applicable)
  • Original I-90 form
  • 5 passport sized photographs
  • Evidence of permanent resident status
  • Photocopies of airline tickets

You can show evidence of green card status without your green card with:

  • Passport with ADIT stamp
  • Re-entry permit
  • Form I-551 Alien Registration Receipt

Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card

Individuals applying for a transportation letter for a lost/stolen green card must submit Form I-90 to apply for a green card replacement, which can be filed electronically or by mail. After submitting I-90 form, applicants will receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action, which contains your appointment date and time.

When completing Form I-90 application for green card replacement, be sure to select Lost/Stolen Green Card under “Reason for Application”.

For more information about completing Form I-90, visit Form I-90 on the USCIS website.

Transportation Letter Processing Time

During your appointment, the US Embassy or Consulate officer will verify if the information provided is correct and if all requirements have been met. If so, he will issue your transportation letter, which may be issued on the same day or may take couple of weeks. Once issued, the transportation letter is valid for 30 days. If you do not travel within the 30 day validity of your transportation letter, you will have to begin and complete the process again.

Your transportation letter will only allow you to board a flight returning to the US; is does not guarantee that you will be admitted into the United States once you have landed. US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may check your legal permanent resident status and your documents at the airport before permitting you to enter the US.

To learn more about replacing green card, visit Green Card Replacement Process.

If your green card is going to expire soon, and you will be traveling outside the United States, you should not apply for a lost or stolen green card or green card replacement. Green card holders whose green card is about to expire should see Green Card Renewal for more information.