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It's every traveller's worst nightmare. Youknowyou had your bag just a minute ago. You could swear you left itright there.Or did you last see it on the train? At that coffee shop?
Point is, you're in a foreign city without your passport or wallet. All your cards and cash are gone. So what now?
Preparation is key
It's one of the golden rules for travel: Don't keep everything in one place. Obviously your day-to-day things like your wallet and passport are likely to be on your person most of the time, but make sure you tuck away your ID book, a certified copy of your passport or driver's license as well as some spare cash or travellers cheques away in the hotel safe – or in a separate piece of luggage if you're in transit. It also helps to scan and email the documents to yourself for an absolute worst-case scenario.
It's also a good idea to register on ROSA - Registration of South Africans Abroad, which allows the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to assist people in the event of an emergency.
And make sure to keep the relevant emergency numbers somewhere safe (and not only on your phone!) in case of an emergency. Again, emailing them to yourself can be a handy way of keeping track of all your travel information.
Replacing your passport
First thing's first – head to the nearest police station to report the loss or theft, and get a police report.
Once you have a copy of the police report, head straight to the nearest South African Embassy, where you can apply for a temporary passport/emergency travel document.
This is where your ID book or the certified copy of your passport/license will be needed.
Before a temporary passport can be issued to you, you will need to
Complete an application form
Produce written evidence of your SA citizenship and provide a copy of the police report
Present two photographs
Pay the required replacement fee
Replacing lost or stolen cards
If you've been using your South African bank card overseas and it has been lost or stolen, you will need to get in touch with your bank immediately – or with the relevant "emergency" services.
Both Visa's Global Card Assistance ServiceandMastercard's Emergency Servicesare open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you can't get hold of your local bank, these companies can assist with stopping your card, replacing it, and arranging for emergency cash collection in a number of locations.
What about travellers cheques?
If you've been using travellers cheques, you can have those replaced virtually anywhere in the world – and usually within 24 hours. Just make sure you have the contact details for American Express in the country you're travelling to, and report the theft or loss immediately.