I've been living off-the-grid for 15+ years on my sail boat traveling the globe. During my travels I've suffered theft of my documents. Will it be possible or problematic entering the US again? I've heard about 9/11 and other stuff that has made the country a bit guarded.

*This is a question by proxy. I only have contact with the real person by ham radio.

  • 2
    The short answer is yes, not having documentation is going to be an inconvenience at best. We really need more information to be able to help. Being washed up naked on the shores of an African country with total amnesia is very different than having a police report from the theft of your documents and knowing your SSN, place and date of birth, and having living family.
    – StrongBad
    May 23, 2016 at 18:36
  • He knows hi ssn number, date of birth, and hospital he was born in. He does not know if he has any living relatives left. May 23, 2016 at 18:42
  • @FrankBarcenas has he never held a passport? What documents does he show when he arrives in a new port? Did he report the theft of his documents, and does he have the documents from those reports?
    – phoog
    May 23, 2016 at 20:23
  • 2
    Be careful about appearing in Cuba. There are still restrictions on US citizens traveling there. May 24, 2016 at 0:28
  • 4
    He really should have reported the theft at the first safe port with a US consulate. That way they could have cancelled his passport. May 24, 2016 at 1:54

1 Answer 1


It is likely going to be extremely difficult to regain your identity. It is not uncommon for the homeless to lose all their identification documents. The NLCHP outlines how 9/11 has made it more difficult for the homeless to obtain any form of identification. For example, both VA and FL require a certified copy of your birth certificate to get a state issued photo ID and a state issued photo ID to get a certified copy of your birth certificate. Assuming you are starting from outside the country, things will be even more difficult. Your best bet is to contact a lawyer who specializes in these sorts of things.

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