For SA teens: a quick and easy guide to getting all your documents


We know, growing up can be overwhelming, between school, your social life, your peace of mind and the pressure to start making choices about your future, it can all get three much!

Luckily, we've got your back. 

Whether you put it off or not, you'll need to start getting your official South African documents. These documents are usually applied for from the age of 16 and you'll use them for the rest of your life, trust us. You need these documents to be able to write your Matric exams, get a driver's license and even open a bank account (and who doesn't like money). 

Here's what you'll need to take with you to apply for your important official documents.

Identity document

  • Two ID-sized photographs (you do not have to supply any photographs if you're getting the smart ID card)
  • Birth certificate*
  • A certified copy of one of your parents or legal guardian's ID
  • If your parents are deceased you will have to supply the Department of Home Affairs with their death certificates
  • Proof of residence**

The best part: it's free! (the first time around, so keep it in a safe place or you'll have to pay for a new one).


Adult passports (16 and over) are valid for 10 years, while passports for children under the age of 16 are valid for 5 years. What you'll need:

  • A certified copy of your ID or Unabridged Birth Certificate
  • If you apply for an ID before the age of 18, you will need a written letter of consent from one of your parents.
  • Supply a previous passport if applicable
  • Two colour photographs (if you have a smart ID card you don't need to supply any photographs)
  • Pay the relevant fee. It costs R400 to apply for a South African passport.

If you are applying for a passport document because you're travelling soon, make sure to find out what the visa application requirements are for the country that are visiting. There a many countries in which South Africans do not require a visa, which will make your travel arrangements much easier. 

Also read: What documents you need to go travelling with your children

Also read: Matrics: Have fun, be safe!

Learner's licence

Take our advice, apply for your learner's while you're still in high school. Getting a driver's licence is one of the best things you can do for your independence and your career to come. A learner's licence is the document that is required before you can take a driving test. Once you've passed the learner's licence test, you will begin your driving lessons. If you have a learner's licence, you may only drive if you are accompanied by someone who has a valid South African driver's licence and your learner's licence must be carried with you at all times while driving. 

You may apply for a motorcycle learner's license from the age of 16.

You may apply for a learner's license for larger vehicles from the age of 17.

You will need to provide the following on the day you book:

  • ID document
  • Two ID photographs
  • R68 to book and you will be required to pay an additional R33 if you pass the test.
  • Proof of residence**

You learner's license is valid for 2 years – that gives you enough time to study and master your K53 and driving skills.

Also read: Watch: John Travolta & Ellen DeGeneres teach his daughter to parallel park 

National Benchmark Test

The NBT project was started in 2005 by the Universities South Africa. You will have to write this test if you intend to attend university after Matric. Some South African universities use the NBTs in addition to the National Senior Certificate (NSC) for access to higher education, while others use the tests to determine the kind of learning support a student will need during their studies. 

Find out the prerequisites for the course you want to study in university. If you have chosen a course that requires mathematics, you will need to write two NBT tests on the same day.

Visit the NBT website to book your test – the website has a list of venues and you will pick the venue closest to you. What you'll need to register:

  • ID document
  • Pay for your test at an EasyPay paypoint prior to siting for the test

It takes about 3 weeks for the universities to receive your test results and 4 weeks for the results to be available to you on the website. 

For more information, click here: Matrics, here’s all you need to know about the National Benchmark Tests (NBT)

Matric certificate

If you misplace or damage your NSC you may apply to receive a new one from the Department of Basic Education. Contact the department in your province to find out the correct procedure. If you have damaged it, you will be required to provide the damaged certificate.

Bank account

It's best to have a bank account while you're still in your teens. Not only will you learn the importance of being responsible with money but it will look good for your credit records in the future. Visit a few banks to compare the benefits and interest rates before you make a decision about where you'd like to keep your money.

If you're under the age of 16 you'll need the following to open an account:

  • Birth certificate*
  • Proof of residence**
  • A letter of consent from your parents 
  • Your parent's original ID

If you're over the age of 16, you'll need the following:

  • ID
  • Proof of residence**

Also read: Can your teen handle financial responsibilities?

* If you don't have a birth certificate

You're not alone. The Department of Home Affairs is continually receiving applications for birth certificates for children who were never registered at birth, for whatever reason. Here's the process you can follow:

  • Completed forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 to register the birth.
    Written reasons why the birth was not notified as required.
  • If you are a citizen, you need to bring your valid South African ID.
  • If you don't have a valid South African ID, you need to submit Form BI-9 to apply for an ID.

** Hack: How to get proof or residence

If you're worried about not having a proof of residence, you may ask your parent for the utility bill. They will be required to fill in an affidevit stipulating that you do live in the address provided. If you think that's too much a hassle, you can open a club card at supermarkets or other stores. That will mean you'll be able to receive mail with your name on it. 

How to register your child's birth if you missed the 30-day deadline.

Are you ready to take the first steps to adulthood? Send us your stories and comments at

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