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Purse by Sten Porse / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Losing one’s wallet can feel very much like a painful severance or even an amputation. Usually your wallet contains a good proportion of the most important parts of our day-to-day life; the simple act of leaving a wallet in a restaurant or on a bench, or even having it stolen can be devastating both emotionally and practically. Credit cards, transit tickets, ID cards, your driver’s license: all of this and more can be gone in a single moment, so it’s vital to ensure that you are well prepared for this eventuality, no matter how much you may strive to avoid it.

Although it’s going to be impossible to replace those precious family photos and other keepsakes, the good news is that most things in your wallet are indeed replaceable. That said, it’s going to be a frustrating experience on many accounts, with various people and agencies that you will have to contact, and waiting periods before which the replacement cards or documents will be shipped-out to you.

Here are some of the steps you should think about taking as soon as you realise that you may have lost your wallet. Remember: it’s worth acting quickly once you notice that it is missing as thieves could use your information to their advantage.

Replace your PR Card


Get In Touch With Your Bank Immediately

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Bank of Montreal [Public Domain]

This is arguably the most important first step which you should take as there is the greatest risk of losing actual property in the form of your financial assets. Although it is highly improbable that your PIN number has been compromised, this is not actually necessary in order to make purchases with or charges to the card. Before you know it, you could be facing several hefty payments which you haven’t made yourself, and so it is absolutely vital that you contact your bank to report any cards as missing or stolen.

Most banks will have a helpline dedicated specifically to lost or stolen cards, and so it should not take you more than a few minutes to sort out this problem once you have realised that you are without your wallet, and once you get through to the bank. Typically, reporting your card as lost or stolen will initiate a process that results in replacement cards being sent out to the address which your bank has on file for you, so there’s no need to worry about sorting out new cards separately.

Replace your Citizenship Certificate


Stop All Credit Cards and Rewards Cards

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Credit Cards [Public Domain]

Once the important matter of banking has been properly attended to, it’s time to turn your attention to the secondary financial items which reside in your wallet and to which thieves could now have access. These include store credit cards offered by shopping chains, rewards cards, and gift cards, and should all be reported as missing or stolen following a similar procedure as with contacting your bank.

In all cases, a quick Google search should yield all of the information necessary to go about putting a stop to these kinds of cards, as well as procuring a replacement in the same phone call or email.


Replace Your Driver's License and Health Card

In Canada, the ministry which deals with transportation varies depending on the province in which you currently reside. Some of them will offer on-the-spot replacements of your driving license, whilst others will take a little while to process your claim and send out a replacement. You should get in touch with the relevant authorities as soon as you can in order to find out the details of the process, and to get it moving as quickly as possible. Being without a driving license can prove a massive hindrance, especially in a nation as dependent on its road infrastructure as Canada. And obviously without your health card you can't get sick.

Provincial ministries for transportation:

Alberta New Brunswick Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island Yukon
British Columbia Newfoundland and Labrador Nunavut Quebec  
Manitoba Northwest Territories Ontario Saskatchewan  

And for health:

Alberta New Brunswick Nova Scotia Prince Edward Island Yukon
British Columbia Newfoundland and Labrador Nunavut Quebec  
Manitoba Northwest Territories Ontario Saskatchewan  


Replace Your Birth Certificate

Replace your birth certificate

In the not-impossible event that you have lost your birth certificate along with your wallet, you will need to wait until you have some form of identification before you can apply to have it replaced. For that reason, it is advisable that you carry out these steps in the order in which we have written them: that way, you’ll have the driver’s license when it comes time to begin the process of birth certificate renewal.

Again, this is handled on a provincial basis in Canada, and so you should find the relevant authority and contact them with some urgency about replacing this vital piece of identification.


Contact the Police

If you have even the slightest suspicion that your wallet and the important cards and identification documents contained therein may be at risk of use in fraudulent operations, you must contact the police to inform them that this is the case. Don’t call 911, as this isn’t a time-sensitive matter in the same way that a robbery would be; instead, just refer to your local telephone listing document for the appropriate number by which to contact the police, and do so as a matter of priority.


I Lost My Wallet. Now What Do I Do?

This article was commissioned by George Laczko.


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