What to do if you lose your passport while abroad


Losing your passport is always inconvenient, but it could be a disaster if it happens when you’re in a foreign country on holiday or a business trip. If you lose your passport or it’s stolen while you’re abroad, take the following steps immediately:

  • Report the loss at the nearest police station.
  • Contact the nearest South African embassy, consulate or high commission.
  • You don’t have to abandon your travel plans entirely. On its website, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation states that a South African diplomatic or consular mission can issue an emergency travel certificate that will allow you to return to SA at the end of your trip. You can also apply for a new passport when you apply for an emergency travel certificate.

However, all passport applications at South African missions abroad are then sent to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for processing. It could take several months for the DHA to process and deliver your new passport, so you’ll need an emergency travel certificate to return to SA.


How to apply for a passport or emergency travel certificate


When you visit a South African embassy, consulate or high commission to apply for an emergency travel certificate and a new passport, follow these steps:

  • Complete an application form.
  • Submit your fingerprints.
  • Provide written proof of your South African citizenship using a birth certificate, identity document, certified copy of passport or driving licence (whichever you have available).
  • Provide a copy of the police report on the loss or theft of your passport.
  • Provide 2 photographs with your application.
  • Pay the prescribed fee.


The process of applying for a passport is much simpler … at a participating Nedbank branch


Tips to prevent passport loss


When travelling out of SA, keep a digitised copy of essential documents such as your passport, identity document or driving licence. You can also store physical copies in different items of luggage or leave copies behind with someone you trust.

These safeguards will be useful if you lose your passport, but they’re a solution to a problem best avoided in the first place. Try the following tips to keep your passport secure while travelling:

  • Buy a good-quality passport holder to protect your passport from water damage and wear.
  • Store your passport in a concealed zippered pocket safe from pickpockets, or in your hotel safe.
  • Whenever anyone asks you to produce your passport to be scanned or stamped, always check that the passport they return to you is indeed yours.


Nedbank makes it easier to apply for a passport


The process of applying for a passport is much simpler if you’re applying within South Africa – especially when you book an appointment at a DHA office hosted at a participating Nedbank branch. Log in to the DHA’s e-Home Affairs web portal and apply for your passport, pay the prescribed fee, and then book an appointment at a Nedbank branch from the list that the site will show you. At your appointment, DHA staff will capture your biometrics. When your passport is ready, you will get an SMS notification to collect it at the same branch.