Everything you need to know about applying for a South African ID

If you are at least 16 years old and a citizen or permanent resident of South Africa, then you are eligible to apply for a South African identification card.

Applying for a South African ID for the first time

When applying for a driver’s license or identification card for the first time, the applicant’s parents or at least one of their parents are required to accompany them and have a copy of their own government-issued photo identification with them. In the event when both of a kid’s parents have passed away, the youngster is required to be accompanied by the person who is designated as their legal guardian.

Applicants who are applying for the first time are required to submit the following papers to the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs or to a South African mission or consulate abroad:

  • Form BI-9, with all required fields filled out and signed in black ink. The Department of Home Affairs has copies of these forms available for you.
  • A copy of your former identity or travel credentials from the Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda, or Ciskei homelands, along with a copy of your birth certificate or a reference book that has been authenticated.
  • Two color photographs that are precisely the same for identification purposes (Note: Not needed at smartcard offices as ID images are captured digitally however colour photographs are still needed for temporary IDs).
  • A representative from the Department of Home Affairs will take your fingerprints and then print them out on Form DHA-9.

Note: You need to add the following documents to your application form if you are either a naturalized citizen or a holder of a permanent residence permit:

  • Your naturalization certificate, as well as a copy of it that has been authenticated by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Your certificate of permanent residency and a copy of it; both will be authenticated by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Your certificate of exemption together with a copy that has been approved by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Form BI-1620, which must be filled in person at a Department of Home Affairs office.
  • Form BI-829 needs to be filled out in its entirety in order for a duplicate of either the permanent residence permit or the exemption certificate to be issued. This is only the case in the event that neither of these documents can be provided.

You are required to submit an application for a duplicate naturalization certificate before filing an application for a driver’s license or identification book if the original certificate cannot be provided.

How do I replace my lost ID?

You are eligible to submit an application for a replacement ID book if your original ID book has been misplaced, stolen, or damaged in any way. You can also receive a new ID if any of the following apply to you:

  • There have been modifications made to your individual particulars.
  • It has been determined that you no longer hold American citizenship.
  • You have chosen to make a change to your family name (for example, if you get married or divorced).
  • You are currently staying in a location outside of South Africa, yet you have in the past held a South African identification card.
  • If your identification card is lost, stolen, or damaged in any way, the fee to replace it is R140.

A legal permission for permanent residency is required in order to obtain an ID, however immigrants who already have one can still receive one.

During the time that you are waiting for the processing of your application for a permanent ID, you can use a temporary ID as proof of your identification. This document can only be used for a limited time since it has an expiration date.

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