Applying for a South African identity document | Western Cape Government

Applying for a South African identity document

An identity document (ID) enables South African citizens and permanent residents to identify themselves for general purposes and day-to-day activities in society. IDs form an important part of each person's daily activities since all transactions require positive identification.

Applying for an ID_Infographic

First time applicants

First time applicants must submit the following documentation to their nearest Department of Home Affairs office or South African mission or consulate abroad:

  • Form BI-9, completed in black ink.
  • 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. 
  • Two identical ID photographs.

Your fingerprints will be taken by a Home Affairs official and imprinted on Form DHA-9. 

Note: If you are a naturalised citizen or a permanent residence permit holder, you must attach the following to your application form:

  • Your naturalisation certificate and a copy, which will be certified by Home Affairs.
  • Your permanent residency certificate and a copy, which will be certified by Home Affairs.
  • Your exemption certificate and a copy, which will be certified by Home Affairs.
  • Form BI-1620, which must be  completed at a Home Affairs office.

If the permanent residence permit or exemption certificate cannot be furnished, Form BI-829 must be completed for the issuing of a duplicate thereof.

If the naturalisation certificate cannot be provided, you must apply for a duplicate prior to submitting the ID book application.

Re-issuing an ID

In the event that your ID is lost, damaged or stolen, you may request a Temporary Identification Certificate (TIC). This can be done at any office of the Department of Home Affairs and is subject to the verification of your fingerprints.

You can also get a new ID if:

  • Your personal details have changed.
  • Your citizenship status has changed.
  • You have changed your surname (for example, if you get married or divorced).
  • You are temporarily living abroad and have previously had a South African ID. Applying for an ID

You can apply for a replacement ID by:

  • Completing Form BI-9 as well if you have not previously submitted your fingerprints.
  • Attaching additional documents as required (e.g. a marriage certificate if you are married).
  • Paying the required fee for the re-issue.

Be sure to provide your cellphone number in your application so that you can receive regular updates on the progress of your application via SMS.

To get the SMS updates, simply SMS the word “ID” followed by your ID number to 32551. You will be charged R1 for each SMS sent.

For more information on how to apply for an identity document, visit the Department of Home Affairs website, where you can also track and trace the progress of your ID application.

Correcting errors in your ID

If you get your ID and there are errors, the Department of Home Affairs will replace your ID for free.

To apply to correct information in your ID, simply submit the following to any office of the Department of Home Affairs:

  • Forms BI-9 and BI-309 completed with the correct information
  • Proof of the error, which shows the correct information (e.g.  a birth certificate)
  • Two identical ID photographs.

Note: No application forms may be downloaded from the Home Affairs website, so you'll need to visit your nearest Western Cape Home Affairs office to get one of these.

Smart ID cards

Smart ID cards, which are set to replace the green, bar-coded ID books, were rolled out in 2014 and are currently only available to first-time applicants who are 16 years and older, and pensioners over sixty years.

Department of Home AffairsOf the 403 home affairs offices countrywide, 110 have a “live capture” system for processing smart card IDs and new passports.

By March 2015 it was expected that 140 offices would have the new technology.

The smart card IDs could only be issued at offices where the new live capture system was in place. This had resulted in long queues at some of these offices.

If you are a youth or a pensioner older than 60, you will be able to apply for the smart ID card at Home Affairs kiosks or your nearest bank from April 2015.

All other South Africans will be invited to apply during the later phases of the roll-out.

You will not need to bring photos as the offices equipped to handle applications for the smart ID card will be able to cater for both processes.

Note: The old green ID books will remain valid as it is estimated that it would take six to seven years to phase them out.

For more information on smart ID cards, please refer to these frequently asked questions.


Types of Applications

Cost of Applications


First time application for an ID or a Smart ID Card for youths and pensioners over the age of 60


No photos needed

Smart ID Card (all other citizens)


No photos needed

Replacement of an ID or Smart Card


Two identical ID photos

Temporary ID


Two identical ID photos


Note: The cost for applying for an ID does not include the cost of photographs.

The content on this page was last updated on 6 March 2015