Lost ID? How to Fly or Check Into A Hotel Without One

Sara Kern
February 22, 2023
Lost ID? How to Fly or Check Into A Hotel Without One

We’ve all experienced that fear. Suddenly checking your pockets in the car, or leaving the bathroom outside your gate, wondering where your ID went — if it’s on the floor somewhere.

Most of the time, there’s a rush of relief when we realize it’s exactly where it ought to be.

But what happens if your ID really does go missing? Or worse — is taken? Can you still fly without an id? Or check into a hotel?

In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more and provide tips for how to prove your identity without ID.

Table of Contents

1. What To Do First If You Lost Your ID
2. Can You Fly Without ID Domestically?
3. Can You Fly Without ID Internationally?
4. Are there any alternatives to flying without an ID?
5. Can You Check Into Your Hotel Without ID?

What To Do First If You Lost Your ID

It depends on the circumstances.

For instance, did you lose your ID, or that and more?

What to Do if You Lost Your ID Only

If you’ve only lost your ID, it might still be possible to find it, so it’s worth retracing your steps first.

Where’s the last place you remember having it?

Check with staff wherever you are — there may be a lost and found you don’t know about. Someone may have found it and turned it in, especially if it was just your ID and not your whole wallet.

What to Do if You’ve Lost More Than Just Your ID

If you’ve lost your ID along with your luggage, purse, or wallet, it’s important to report it as soon as possible. Reach out to airport or hotel security, who will likely suggest filing a report with local law enforcement. If you do that, make sure to get the ID number for the incident report, as well as non-emergency contact information. It may be helpful later.

Contact your financial institutions to protect yourself financially. If you’re traveling internationally, contact your local embassy as well.

Since you’re on a corporate travel trip, let your supervisor and travel coordinator know what’s happening, especially if you had a business credit card on your person. They may be able to help with those loose ends, reschedule any meetings or projects, or assist to book you a last-minute hotel reservation if you need it.

Finally, reach out to your support system. Friends and family should know what’s happening. They may be able to help you, emotionally or otherwise, through this stressful situation.

Can You Fly Without ID Domestically?

How to get through TSA without an ID

The TSA accepts a variety of forms of identification beyond a standard driver’s license, Real ID, state ID, or passport — so you should be able to fly. You’ll just need to make special arrangements.

Gather What You Have

Consider what you have access to. If you’re at home, gather any other forms of identification you might have.

Do you have any of these TSA-acceptable forms of identification?

  • Military ID or Veteran Health Identification Card
  • Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • DSH trusted traveler card (like Global Entry or NEXUS)
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • Federally accepted Tribal/Indian Nation ID card
  • US Passport, US Passport card, or Foreign Government issued passport
  • Canadian issued drivers ID or Indian and Northern Affairs card
  • US Merchant Mariner credential
  • DOD card (dependent cards work)

They’ll also accept an expired driver’s license or state ID as long as it was issued after March 1, 2020, and has expired within the last year. Check the TSA website for more information.

If you don’t have one of these other accepted forms of ID, try to bring with you other forms of identification, like your current address, other photo IDs (student ID, photo business card) or personal information.

Do you have a certified birth certificate, marriage license, or social security card on hand, for instance? Bring it.

If you’re traveling, try to print out documents that to verify your address. Many hotels have business centers and should be able to accommodate you.

Do you still have your phone?

Search your photos and emails just in case you have a picture of your license or passport you can show. It won’t be sufficient on its own, but it helps to build a case that you are who you say you are.

Collect any credit cards you might have with you and your boarding pass, too — either by printing it ahead of time or picking it up at a kiosk at the airport. It’ll be easier to present to TSA than your mobile phone.

Get To The Airport Early

Arrive at the airport as early as possible. You’ll need time to let the transportation authorities know about your situation and to work through any potential issues in time to make your flight. The TSA recommends having over two hours, but more is always better.

Speak With a TSA Agent

Head to the TSA security checkpoint to speak with a TSA agent right away. They have policies in place to deal with this exact scenario, so they will do their best to identify you so you can still travel.

The TSA officer will likely ask for specific information to confirm your identity, such as your full name, address and date of birth. Offer them everything you’ve collected. Having information readily available will speed up the process.

Whatever happens, it’s important to remember that the TSA’s primary goal is to keep passengers safe, so they may take extra precautions to verify your identity.

Can You Fly Without ID Internationally?

That depends. International flights can have different rules and regulations, so it’s important to research the requirements of the country you’re traveling to and from. If you’re traveling to your home country, it will be easier to prove your identity to customs than if you’re traveling abroad.

Under certain circumstances, you can actually get an emergency passport. In the US, passport agencies can get you an emergency passport for international travel happening within 14 days.

If you’re already abroad, you should contact the nearest embassy for your home country to get information on what to do. If you’re at the airport, airport security should also have suggestions on what to do.

Are there any alternatives to flying without an ID?

If you’re not able to verify your identity and board your flight, you may need to consider alternative options. You could consider finding a last-minute hotel room or finding another method of travel. You should be able to travel without ID by bus, train, taxi, etc.

Can You Check Into Your Hotel Without ID?

How to check into a hotel without ID

Wondering how to handle check-in at a hotel without ID?

Or even how to get a hotel room without an ID?

If you’re a Hotel Engine customer, or your business is, contact Member Support as soon as you can. Our US-based team is available 24-7 and ready to help you navigate your situation by contacting your hotel directly. They’ll make sure you end up with somewhere to stay.

If your hotel wasn’t booked with Hotel Engine, you’ll need to handle the issue yourself — which may include whatever online travel agency or travel management company helped you book your reservation. It may take time to reach a human with the information you need.

You’ll also need to contact the front desk to let them know and to discuss your options.

If you’re a member of the hotel’s loyalty program, be sure to let them know that. It may help them identify who you are and get you checked in.

You may also be able to present your booking receipt, confirmation email, or a digital ID — whatever you have to prove your identity. If you’ve reported your lost ID to the police, you can provide them with a copy of the incident report or the report number. Offer them the contact information for the officers you spoke with as well, if you have it.

If they tell you they won’t be able to honor your reservation under the circumstances, reach out to Hotel Engine for information on how to find last-minute hotel deals — or for their help booking one. You can also search for and book a hotel easily through the Hotel Engine mobile app or website.

How to Avoid ID Issues in the Future

The best way to avoid ID issues is — of course — to take care with your ID. Consider purchasing a security wallet when you plan to travel, to keep your money and identification safe from potential thieves.

Still, the unforeseeable can always happen. No one means to travel without ID. To be prepared for anything, consider the following options.

Double-up for Safety

Consider traveling with extra forms of ID, but make sure to keep them separate. For instance, if you lose your wallet, it would be a relief to have your passport in your luggage.

If you’re a US citizen, consider requesting a “Passport Card” when you apply for your passport or renew it. A passport card can be used to travel domestically, or as a form of identification for checking into a hotel, purchasing alcohol, etc. — which makes it a great option.

Just don’t pack anything it would be terrible to lose — like anything with your social security number on it.

Create Back-up Records

Before leaving on your trip, take pictures of your ID and Passport, so you’ll have access to them on the go. Consider sending them to a friend or family member or saving them somewhere secure on the cloud, so you can access them if you were to lose your phone.

Book with Hotel Engine

When you’re traveling for an important reason, book your accommodations with Hotel Engine.

With 24/7 access to a best-in-class support team, you’ll have help day or night to:

    • Book a last-minute hotel room
    • Modify a hotel reservation
    • Make special requests for an existing booking


The most important thing to do if you find yourself without an ID is to stay calm. This kind of surprise can be shocking under any circumstance, but especially if it comes with other lost or stolen items.

Remember: you’re not alone, and traveling without an ID is not impossible. Hotels, airlines and the TSA all have procedures in place to assist passengers who have lost their IDs. By being proactive, having alternative forms of identification, and working with the proper authorities, you can still make it to your destination — even without your ID.

To be sure of your ability to check into your hotel, book with Hotel Engine. Sign up for a free account to get started today.

Article written by
Sara Kern

Sara Kern is a Copywriter at Hotel Engine. She worked as a writer in the tech and apparel industries for almost a decade before joining the HE family, but also has experience coordinating business travel for fast-moving nonprofits, so she knows firsthand how hard it can be. She joined Hotel Engine in 2022 and is excited to be a part of the movement to radically simplify trip management for everyone.

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