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I Lost My Safety Deposit Box Key: Now What?

By Sam Hurley

March 17, 2022


If you’ve lost your safety deposit box, you’ve come to the right place. Whether your keys were lost or stolen, there are a few ways you can access your box and protect the valuables inside. 

So, what do you do if you’ve lost the key to your safety deposit box? 

When you lose the key to your safety deposit box, you’ll need to contact your bank as soon as possible. They will likely need to drill into the lock so you can access your goods. Some banks can also give you a replacement key you can use if you don’t need to access your box right away.

In this article, I’m going to break down exactly what to do if you’ve lost your safety deposit box key. I’ll even get into specifics with all the major banks and their protocols. 

Do You Need To Be Worried If You Lose Your Safety Deposit Box Key?

Losing your safety deposit box key can be stressful, but try your best not to panic. While it might seem like a major inconvenience, there’s usually a viable solution to access your valuables. Most safety deposit boxes come with two keys. If you lose one, you can use the duplicate to access your box. 

In the case where both keys are lost, the bank will need to organize a professional locksmith to force open the box in your presence (and at your expense). Although this process can be lengthy and expensive, at least you know there is a way to access your safety deposit box if you misplace both keys.

Furthermore, it would be virtually impossible for someone to access your safety deposit box if they got their hands on your keys. For starters, banks have state-of-the-art security systems inside their vaults. A person would need proper clearance and legal documents from the bank to evern access the room in which your box is located. 

Even if you have your key, you need to undergo a rigorous identification process that includes:

  • Checking your fingerprints

  • Facial recognition

  • Passwords

  • Security questions

The only true downside is that you won’t be able to access your safety deposit box as quickly without the keys. 

Immediate Steps To Take If You've Lost Your Safety Deposit Box Key

If you can’t find either of your safety deposit box keys, here are some immediate steps to take to protect your belongings:

  1. Check every possible place one of your keys might be

  2. Contact your bank promptly and inform them you’ve lost your keys

  3. Notify them of anyone that might imitate your identity (if your keys were stolen)

  4. Review your security deposit box leasing contract for lost key policy

  5. Purchase insurance on your deposit box (optional)

Lost Safety Deposit Box Key: Bank of America

If one of your Bank of America safety deposit box keys are lost, you need to notify Bank of America as quickly as possible. You can bring one of your remaining keys to your box location to have the locks changed and receive a new replacement key.

Bank of America recommends contacting their branch during normal banking hours for next steps if both your security deposit keys are misplaced. 

Lost Safety Deposit Box Key: Wells Fargo

Since Wells Fargo doesn’t insure any valuables kept in their safety deposit boxes, it’s recommended that you get coverage from a third-party. They also don’t carry any copies of your keys, but only a guard key that’s needed to open your box.

The only way Wells Fargo can open your safety deposit box without your keys is to drill the lock. You or your legal representation need to be present during this process, and the bank can change the lock and issue new keys for your box. 

Lost Safety Deposit Box Key: Chase

Chase requires that you notify them immediately if you’ve misplaced one or more of your keys. You also need to notify the bank if you’ve surrendered any of your keys, so they can change the locks. 

If your Chase safety deposit box pin has been compromised, you need to contact the branch right away to make arrangements. Furthermore, Chase doesn’t allow you to make duplicates of your keys. 

Lost Safety Deposit Box Key: TD

TD can provide you with a replacement safety deposit key for a fee of $50. The bank can also drill into the lock if necessary. You’ll also need to inform them right away if one or more of your keys are lost or stolen. 

Lost Safety Deposit Box Key: Citibank

Citibank gives each licensee two keys to their leased safety deposit box. Like most banks, Citibank requires that you inform them of a misplaced or stolen safety deposit box key. They can drill into the lock if needed, but it will be at your expense.

Is There A Cost To Losing Your Safety Deposit Box Key?

Above, we mention that drilling needs to be done to the lock if both keys are lost. For almost all banks, the drilling fee is covered by the safety deposit box licensee. Some banks do offer replacement keys, and it varies between organizations.

The cost for a replacement key is typically between $50-100. If you need to drill into the lock, then you can expect to pay anywhere from $150-200. That’s why it’s recommended that you check everywhere for your key or try and get a replacement before drilling. 

Not only will it cost you money, but it could prevent you from accessing your valuables when you need them. To expedite the process, reach out to your bank as soon as you realize your keys are missing. 

How Quickly Can You Get A New Key For Your Safety Deposit Box?

During normal banking hours, you can usually secure a new key within a few working days. However, banks don’t process replacements during the weekend. As a result, notifying your bank on a Friday could mean 4-5 days before you can access your safety deposit box.

Does The Bank Have A Copy Of Your Safety Deposit Box Key?

Banks do have a key that can open your safety deposit box, but your key also needs to be present. In other words, you or your bank can’t open the box without both keys unless you drill into the lock. 

The key the bank has is also known as a guard key. You insert your key into one side of the box, and the banker needs to insert their guard key in at the same time for the box to open. 

What To Do If You've Lost The Safety Deposit Box Key Of Someone Who Died?

Opening a safety deposit box after a death can be quite complicated, but it’s not impossible. 

Given that there are over 25 million safety deposit boxes in the United States, chances are some of the owners have already passed. 

As a result, banks and courts have a process so the beneficiaries can access the goods inside:

  1. Identifying somebody who can file a petition with the court (usually a spouse or relative of the deceased). Usually the named beneficiary will be able to file a petition with the court to open a safety deposit box of a deceased person.

  2. Locating the safety deposit box. Finding the location of a deceased person’s safety deposit box can be tricky. The location will likely be in their will or known by their attorney. You can also try contacting banks around their residence to see if they leased a box.

  3. Filing with the court to request permission to open the safety deposit box. You’ll need to fill out paperwork at the Surrogate Court. The clerk will need to review your case and you'll need to pay a fee to send the petition to the judge. Once signed, you can list the items inside the box to the court for collection. 

  4. Notifying the bank to review the valuables. Finally, you’ll need to take your paperwork (signed petition, death certificate, court inventory, personal ID) to the bank to review the valuables. If you don’t have the keys, the bank will need to drill into the lock at your expense. 

This process helps family members access the estate of their deceased spouse or relative. 

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Conclusion

Safety deposit boxes can be incredibly difficult to access, which is their primary selling point. They are an excellent place to store valued goods for yourself or your family. Losing your keys can be daunting, but luckily there are things you can do to access your items. 

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