How To Get An Emergency/Temporary South African Passport

You can apply for a Temporary SA Passport at the Home Affairs Office in Cape Town.

Updated 23 September 2014:

The Department of Home Affairs will no longer issue temporary passports from September 1.

A circular from the DHA states that SA citizens have been refused entry into a number of countries when travelling on temporary passports. “This has resulted in accusations and claims against the department in cases where citizens are refused entry into particular country despite the department having issued the temporary passport.

“Temporary passports have been abused for corruption purposes and this threat remains, which puts South Africa at risk of its emergency travel documents being unreliable and not trustworthy. Elimination of temporary passports aims to remove this risk.”

The DHA added that temporary passports were initially issued as an interim travel document due to longer turn-around times taken to issue a permanent tourist passport. “This turn-around time has improved drastically rendering issuance of temporary passports redundant.”

Only an Emergency Travel Certificate (ETC) will be issued to an applicant under circumstances of emergency travel purposes.

Lazanne photoAs Blue Monday’s go, Lazanne Affiliate Manager at Travelstart, woke up on Monday 7 October to the realization that hers was going to be “one of those days”.

Due to fly out to Kenya on the 8th October, Lazanne realised at the last minute that her passport was sitting with the UK Border Agency for a Visa for her trip to London on 26 October. That means she had less than 24 hours until departing South Africa and no passport!

Fast forward to November and Lazanne is back from successful trips to Kenya and the UK. I sat down with her to try and make sense of the madness that ensued and how she handled it.

What were the events leading up to you needing an Emergency Passport?

I woke up the morning before my trip to Kenya and realised that my passport was with the UK Border Agency as I had handed it over to them for my UK Visa. I immediately went to Home Affairs in Barrack Street, Cape Town.

What is the process for getting a Temporary SA passport?

At Home Affairs you need to inform the person at the information desk the reason for your visit. You will be given the appropriate application form and a unique number for your application which will eventually be called out. You then need to take these documents with you to the correct application desk – it’s a fairly simple and efficient procedure.

What documentation did you need to take with you?

2 passport photos and your SA ID, as well as a written motivation stating why you need the temporary passport. Don’t worry about writing the motivation beforehand as they will give you an additional form to complete at Home Affairs.

How did you make an appointment to apply for the passport?

No appointment needed, just try to be at Home Affairs as early as possible to avoid the long queues.

How much did it cost?

R180 for the temporary SA passport and +/- R40 for 2 passport photos, a smidgen of my sanity, and a few hours of my time.

How long does it take to get the emergency passport?

On the Home Affairs website they state that it may take up to 1 week. My experience however was different to what I read on their website. My application was submitted at 9am and was I told to collect my temporary passport at 16:30pm on the same day. I asked whether I should call to confirm that it’s ready but was advised that there’s no need to call, and I was assured it would be ready by then. I couldn’t believe my luck after all the panic.

When I arrived at 16:30, unfortunately and to my shock, NO PASSPORT! I pleaded with the supervisor to track my passport and told her that my flight to Nairobi departs Cape Town International at 7am the next morning, so I desperately needed it. The supervisor was kind and very helpful unlike the staff I spoke to before getting hold of her. She went the extra mile to check the passport storage room on another floor and which she has no access to, but she went anyway to see if anyone was still there. This all happened after closing hours and when most of the staff had already gone home. She then found that the person who processed my application failed to give me one very important document to sign and that was the reason why my passport wasn’t ready. She advised me to be there at 7:30 the next morning and she will personally ensure that my passport is ready for collection.

Are there any restrictions if you’re travelling on a temporary South African passport?

I travelled to Kenya and there were no restrictions, but there are certain countries that will refuse entry with to travellers with a temporary passport. Home Affairs advises you to confirm with the individual country authorities.

Is there anything else readers should know?

A temporary passport is valid for 12 months. The Home Affairs website states that a new passport must already have been applied for before a temporary passport application can be lodged, but if you have a good enough reason, like mine, then they will gladly assist and you’ll get your temporary passport on the same day. Just make sure all your docs are signed!

Please note that Home Affairs ONLY accepts cash! My mind filled with utter astonishment while handing over my cheque card at the payments counter and the lady rudely glared at me because I was supposed to know that!

Our Readers Comments

  1. Morning South African Home Affairs my name is Molifi Job Matsemela working for Ilios travel and tour’s living Johannesburg. I will like to apply a passport and a temporary passport because our company travel a lots with tourist in African continent. So will you please help me with that as soon as SAP when I get to Maponya Home Affairs, since you no that tourism is one of the key investors in our country. Am looking forward to get respond from you God bless the all staff of Home Affairs.

    • Hi Molifi,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      You’ve contacted Travelstart. You will need to contact Home Affairs direct should you have any queries or need assistance in applying for a passport.

  2. Good day. Please can you help me to get an emergency passport to go to Dubai for two weeks in February?

    • Hi Conrad,

      I’m afraid we do not issue passports or assist with one applying for one.

      You would need to apply for your passport through Home Affairs.

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