You will need to get your South African passport to travel overseas. It is the best way to prove that you are a South African citizen within and beyond the borders of South Africa. The South African government issued an official document to its citizens certifying the holder’s nationality and citizenship. It is given in section 26(B) of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995. This act stipulates a punishable offense for a South African citizen over 18 years to leave or enter the country with a foreign passport.
The passports and other legal documents are issued following the South African Passports and Travel Documents Act, 1994, in addition to other governing regulations. The permanent passports and travel documents are only printed in Pretoria and then dispatched to other locations in the country. Applicants can submit their applications at any Department of Home Affairs offices as long as they apply within the country’s borders. Those made outside the country should be submitted to the embassy or nearest South African mission.
Why You Must Apply in Person
Regardless of whether you are applying when you are inside the country or outside, the following things must happen:
- Satisfy the passport office that you are indeed a citizen of South Africa
- Have a passport photo that the officer must verify and confirm that it is an actual image of yourself
- Have your fingertips taken and run against the national population registry (This happens for people who are above the age of 15)
Besides these requirements and expected outcomes, you must note the following:
- You must complete all documents required for a passport application. They must be completed in black ink.
- Family members must complete a separate application form even when they are from the same household. These include husband, wife, and kids. When applying for kids’ passports, both parents (mother and father) and the child must be present duri8gnt the application process. A few exceptions are provided for kids under the age of 16 years in the tourist passports category.
- Note that your passport names will follow the exact appearance of your names on the national population register (NPR) at the time of application. In case of any name changes, make sure to apply for the changes, finalize the name change, and have it recorded in the NPR before you proceed to submit the passport application.
Important Details to Note about the South African Passport
- You are only allowed to apply for a South African passport if you have a South African identity. If you do not have a document proving your South African identity, you must start applying for your birth document since you will not apply for the passport without it.
- People without a regular passport need to travel urgently; an emergency document application provision is subject to specific requirements. Note that not all countries are open to accepting emergency travel documents. Consequently, it is only wise to check with the relevant authorities for the country you intend to travel to before you even apply for the emergency documents.
- The other thing to note about South African passports is that all regular passports are charged a specific fee to get. Only official and diplomatic passports are exempted from these charges.
- Besides that, if you are applying to replace a lost, damaged, or stolen passport, you would be forced to pay double the standard fee because it is assumed that such occurrences happened because of the owner’s negligence.
- As for the size of the passport, a regular tourist passport contains 32 pages. However, you can opt for the 48 paged one if you intend to travel a lot.
- Maxi tourist passports and passports issued to people over 16 years old are only issued to individuals that have attained the age of 16 years and above. Such passports are valid for ten years and above.
- People under the age of 16 are issued SA passports as long as they are 15 years old or below. Such passports are valid for five years.
- All passports are non-renewable. Once the validity period is over, you must apply for a new passport.
- For the passport to function, it has to be valid for at least 30 days before the day of departure.
- Ensure your passport has at least two blank pages (excluding the endorsement page at the back).
- In case you need a visa, make sure the passport has two blank-facing pages. One will be used for the visa and the other for entry stamps.
What is Included in a South African Passport
Now that you have an idea of what to expect in an SA passport, it is only wise that you know what your passport will contain. This information will help you determine the validity of the document. It should have:
- A photo of the passport holder
- The type of passport
- The issuing country
- Your passport number
- Official names and surname of the passport holder(Must be what you have in the population registry)
- The nationality of the passport holder
- Gender of the passport holder
- Birth date (Your date of birth)
- Birthplace (Your place of birth)
- Issue date (When the passport is issued)
- Expiry date (Expected passport expiry date)
- The issuing authority
How to Apply for your Tourist Passport: For People over 16 years
This type of passport is only issued to people in South Africa (citizens) 16 years and above. They have a reasonable period of 10 years and will require a new application once it expires.
Documents Needed for this Type of Passport Application
To apply for this passport, you need to supply the following documents.
- A completed passport application Form DHA-73
- An original identity document and a copy, or a birth certificate and copy of the same if the applicant is under 16
- If one is under 18 years, parental consent is needed before the passport can be issued.
- A completed determination of citizenship Form DHA-529 if you are applying from abroad
- Any existing valid tourist passport, especially if you have lost your passport or it has been stolen, and you are applying for a new passport. It is mandatory to provide a loss of passport report (DHA-335 ) and a confirmation showing you reported the loss to the police.
- Two colored photographs that match the Passport and ID Photograph Specifications ( This will NOT be needed at smartcard offices as ID images are often captured digitally)
- Pay the prescribed fee for the passport.
Applying for a Maxi Passport
This is a special passport document with 48 pages. It is suited for people who travel more frequently. They are not different from regular tourist passports, only containing more pages for visas. These passports are only issued to SA citizens aged 16 years and above. Like regular passports, they are valid for ten years and cannot be renewed until the validity expires, and one needs to apply again. To apply for this type of passport, the following documents are required:
- A properly completed passport application Form DHA-73
- An original identity document and a copy, or a birth certificate and copy thereof if under 16
- Those who are under 18 years need prescribed consent from their parents.
- Attach a completed determination of citizenship Form DHA-529 when applying from abroad
- Present any existing valid tourist passport. If the passport is lost or stolen, and you are applying for a new passport, make sure to provide a loss of passport report (DHA-335 ) as well as a confirmation p[roving that you reported the loss to the police.
- Two-colored photographs that comply with the Passport and ID Photograph Specifications (NOT needed at smartcard offices as ID images are captured digitally)
- Pay prescribed fees
Passports for Persons Under 16 – Applying for Tourist Passports when you are Below 16 years
This type of passport is issued to SA citizens 15 years and younger. It is valid for five years, meaning that a new application should be made once this period elapses. To apply for this passport, the following requirements are mandatory:
- Make sure to have a duly completed passport application Form DHA-73
- Signature from both parents if they are married. Both parents should sign the form. What’s more, both parents and the child in question must be present during the application submission.
- Note that the child and both parents should attend when the application is submitted to the nearest Home Affairs office or SA Mission/Consulate. If a parent cannot participate in the application process, a letter of consent and a copy of ID will no longer be accepted.
- If divorced and sole parental rights and responsibilities regarding guardianship have not been granted to one parent, the child and both parents should attend when the application is submitted. Both must sign the application form.
- If a parent is deceased, his or her death certificate and a copy thereof must accompany the application for the passport.
- In the case of minors born out of wedlock, the biological father’s consent will also be required if any of the circumstances as outlined in section 21 of the Children’s Act, 1995, are applicable. The child and both parents should attend when the application is submitted.
- If the applicant is in the care of a guardian other than the parents, there should be proof of the High Court’s appointment that must accompany the application.
- If a parent cannot be found, refuse to consent, or is disputing the consent, the matter should be referred to the Children’s Court. It is up to the court to make a decision that must be submitted with the application for the passport.
- Provide the child’s South African birth certificate and a copy thereof
- Provide two color passport photographs that comply with the Passport and ID photograph specifications (These are not needed at smartcard offices as ID images are captured digitally)
- Pay the prescribed passport fee.
Applying for Official Passports
Official passports are unique and are issued to officials linked to government institutions, especially those who need to travel on official business. These passports are valid for only five years, upon which one should apply for a fresh one. The following details and documents are needed whenever you apply for this type of passport.
- A completed passport application Form DHA-73
- Original identity document and a copy of the same
- Bring a letter with the official letterhead. This should be signed by the head of the institution or a relevant delegate. It should show the need for this passport. The authorization should point towards an official trip and show that you are an employee of the said institution.
- Provide two colored photographs that comply with the passport and ID photo specifications. ( This will not be needed for digital submissions)
- Submit your existing valid official passport or, if it is lost or stolen, a lost passport report (DHA-335) and a confirmation that the loss was reported to the police.
Besides these requirements, you may be forced to sign an undertaking for the following:
- To use the official passport only for authorized trips.
- Report the loss of an official passport to the South African Police Services and the company in charge as soon as you discover the loss.
- To keep the passport safely.
- Return the passport to a designated person in your department/organization for safe-keeping once you are back from your official trip.
- To hand in the passport to the Department of Home Affairs if you leave government service or when you will no longer require an official passport.
Diplomatic Passport Application
These passports are unique and are administered by the Department of International Relations. Therefore, all concerns should be directed to the Protocol Section in the respective department.
A passport is an essential document for all South Africans, especially those who want to travel. Whether you need to apply for the passport for official or personal use, make sure to comply with the rules of the passport category you need to get. Pay attention to the different types and understand what is required to successfully apply for the right passport based on the age of the applicant.