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The old South African ID Book…. Is it dead?  The South African Department of Home Affairs has started a process of replacing the old Green ID Book with a Smart ID Card.  This is quite a good idea in a country where corruption and ID theft are a reality. Unlike the ID Book, which can easily be forged, and looks like the dog’s breakfast after only a few months of use, the card cannot be easily manipulated. It has a chip which is readable and verifiable‚ with biographic data embedded on it‚ and thus it is not easily forged.

We all need one of these, if not only for the fact that it fits into a standard wallet.


South African ID Book

The old South African ID Book

A Recent announcement was made on social media that the old Green ID Book will no longer be valid after March 2018. Stressed South Africans became even more stressed as they tried to work out how they will make this deadline. I mean, millions of people trying to apply for their new card in a mere four months? Come on.

Luckily the Department of Home Affairs came to the rescue and stated categorically that this is fake news and that the old ID Book will remain valid. At least until 2022, that is. So, rest assured, go on holiday, your trusted old Green ID Book with the dog ears and torn plastic cover will still be legal tender for years to come.

However, while it is good to know things will not change too soon, how does one apply for an ID these days?


South African ID Book - new smart ID Card

The new South African Smart ID Card

The first thing to know, is that although the Green ID Book is still valid, it will not be replaced with the same should you lose or damage yours.  It will be replaced with the new Smart ID Card, at a cost. That is part of the plan to slowly but surely migrate from the old to the new.

Whether you apply for an ID for the first time, or whether you have lost yours and need to reapply, the process remains the same – only the cost thereof differs. How do you do it? Well, you can go to your local Home Affairs office and stand in a queue, or you can make use of the new eHomeAffairs portal.  If you do go in, take a certified copy of your Birth certificate or reference book, or a copy of the old Transkei, Bophutatswana, Venda or Ciskei homelands identity or travel documents with you.  If you are a naturalised citizen or a permanent residence permit holder you must take your naturalisation certificate, your permanent residency certificate and your exemption certificate along. Take copies of all documents along as well, just in case.


Using the Portal is easy – register, login, complete the application form, submit it, upload supporting documents, pay for it using your online banking facility, then go to any Home Affairs office to have your photos taken and bio-metrics captured.  Alternatively, you can even go to one of the selected Banks to do this.  Yes, you read it correctly, the major banks are all in on it…. Although the roll-out is slow, there are a few branches across country of the four major banks that already have home affairs sub-offices in place. You may just have to ask around or call your bank’s call center to find one.

It is important to note that you must pay via your online banking platform, if you wish to apply via the Portal. If you do not have access to such a facility, you will unfortunately have to go in and apply at the Department.  It is free for first time applicants, and R140.00 to replace a lost ID Book.  If you choose to go to a bank for the photos and bio-metrics, it must be your own bank.


Currently, the Portal only allows you to apply for ID Cards and passports.  A Passport costs between R400.00 and R800.00, depending whether it is a first issue or a replacement passport.  Although it has not yet been confirmed, it makes sense that the ability to apply for other relevant documents, such as Unabridged Birth Certificates and Death Certificates, should be added as well.  Only time will tell how useful this Portal will become.

So now you know.  Isn’t it great to know that our Country is moving towards technology to take the frustration out of applying for documents?  As free Internet hotspots roll out, even citizens who do not currently have access to the internet, will be able to apply online.

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