How to apply for your South African Passport

Even if you think you'll never manage to save up enough to take your dream trip abroad, having a valid passport is a MUST for the modern person. I mean, you never know when that lottery ticket will be the lucky one, or when a wealthy lover may want to whisk you away... both scenarios could go horribly wrong if you suddenly discover your passport has expired. Or even worse, you never had one to start off with.

So, because we want to minimize your time in the madness of the home affairs department, we've decided to put together a quick guide on how to get your passport application and a passport application for your child done as efficiently as possible.

The first thing you should know: there are different passports for different people and purposes.

You can now apply at your nearest Home Affairs Office by filling in a DHA-73 form or online - but you will still need to visit a DHA office to capture your biometric information.

ALSO SEE: Passports and visas: 10 things first time travellers need to know 

Tourist passport

Issued to South African citizens over the age of 16 and is valid for 10 years from the date of issue.

What you need:

• Identity Document
• Two colour passport photos
• Finger prints will be taken

Cost: R400

Time-frame: It will take about ten weeks to process the application and issue the passport.

Child's passport

Issued to South African citizens under the age of 16. It is valid for five years from the date of issue.

What you need:

• Your (parent's) ID and child's birth certificate
• 2 colour passport photos of the child
• Death certificate if one parent is deceased
• a copy of the Court's appointment letter, if you are the child's guardian
• There are special rules for children born out of wedlock, check out the Home Affairs website for more details.

Cost: R400

Timeframe: Takes about 10 days to process

Maxi tourist passport

It is a document for frequent travellers and is issued to South African citizens of 16 years and above. The document contains 48 pages to provide for more visa pages. It is valid for 10 years from the date of issue.

What you need:

• Identity Document
• Two colour passport photos
• Fingerprints

Cost: R600

Time-frame: Takes about 10 days to process.

Temporary passport - UPDATE: SA discontinues issuing of temporary passports

Emergency travel certificate

Can be issued to South African citizens who need to travel urgently and there is insufficient time to process a passport application. Valid for 9 months, but can only be used for a single journey

What you need:

• Identity Document
• Two colour passport photos
• Fingerprints
• A valid reason for urgent travel

Cost: R140 to process, but you will need to pay an additional R400 to get your proper tourist passport when you return.

Time-frame: Normally takes about a week to process.

Official passport

Issued to South African citizens in the employ of the Public Service or of a government institution and who need to travel abroad on government official business. It is valid for five years.

What you need:

• Identity Document
• Two colour passport photos
• Fingerprints
• Letter from your employer

Cost: Free

Document for travel purposes

Issued to South African permanent residence holders who cannot obtain travel documents from their country of origin, for example refugees and stateless persons lawfully residing in South Africa. It is valid for 5 years.

What you need:

• Proof of identity
• Two colour passport photos
• Fingerprints
• Proof of permanent residence as well as written 
confirmation from your country of origin that they cannot issue you with a passport.

Cost: R400

Time-frame: About 10 days.

Other useful information:

Take a look at the passport and ID photo specifications.

You can track the process of your passport application through the Department of Home Affairs website.

Also visit the Department of Home Affairs website to find out the contact details of your closest branch. 

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