What to do when you’ve lost your passport
It’s every traveller’s worst nightmare. You’re overseas on the trip of a lifetime and your most essential piece of travel equipment goes missing: your passport.
What do you do, who do you contact and how do you go about ensuing you can actually travel back home again.
“Having an accredited travel agent on your side is a good thing to have, not only to assure you that it’s going to be okay, but also to sort out your travel plans, should you need to change a flight or extend your stay,” says Otto de Vries, CEO of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents.
“Precautions are important though and it goes without saying that you should always carry copies with you, as well as the details of the nearest South African embassy or consulate for every destination on your itinerary. You can also upload your documents so that no matter where you find yourself in the world, you’ve got an online copy to get you through.”
These are the steps you should take if you do happen to lose your passport while abroad:
1. Contact the authorities immediately
Panic mode is the default option. However, take a few deep breaths, assess your situation and run through your options. Whether you have fallen victim to a pick-pocketing or not, you’ll need to file a police report immediately, which you will need when you apply for a replacement passport.
2. Contact the South African Embassy or Consulate
Remember that handy list of contact details for the nearest embassies and consulates that you prepared before you left? Now is the time to break it out. Send an email, make a call, and get yourself over there as soon as you can. The sooner, the better.
3. Apply for an Emergency Travel Certificate
Emergency passports are no longer issued so you will only be able to apply for an Emergency Travel Certificate, which is valid for a maximum period of nine months but only for a single trip. This is for those who need to travel urgently and there is insufficient time to process a passport application which will take longer than a week.
You’ll need to assemble an application together for this which includes:
* A completed passport application form DHA-73.
* Proof of your South African citizenship in the form your South African identity book, driver’s license, birth certificate or old passport copy.
* If under 18 years, the prescribed consent by parents must be furnished.
* Written motivation for the issuing of the Emergency Travel Certificate, along with any proof of the urgency of the trip.
* A schedule of your travel arrangements.
* Two colour photographs that comply with the Passport and ID Photograph Specifications: 35mm x 45mm.
* Payment of the prescribed fee (currently R140).
Find more info on applying for a new passport at the Department of Home Affairs website here.