How To Renew Your South African Passport

Posted by: Russell Jarvis

The secret to avoiding queues and making your South African passport renewal relatively painless is to get there early. That way, you won’t be left standing in the queue, wondering what happened in the 10 years since you last applied for your passport.

That said, I’ve just got back from renewing my South African passport and it was easier and more pleasant than I could ever have imagined. This is the story of my application …

Take One: South African Passport Renewal

Things got off to a sour start when I went to the Reserve Bank Building in the Cape Town CBD. The Home Affairs website lists the Reserve Bank Building in St Georges Mall, Cape Town as a place to get your South African passport renewed. Please note this is NOT the case. The Cape Town Home Affairs office is located in Barrack Street in the lower Gardens area.

South African Passport Renewal

After making this initial error, I decided to wait a while before trying again.

Take Two: South African Passport Renewal

Fast forward a few weeks and I was ready to go to Home Affairs and get my new passport. I took the following things with me.

What to bring

  • South African ID document
  • Passport photos – usually come in sets of 4 and cost about R35
  • Your old passport
  • Cash – R400 (March 2012) + R10 to buy a Coke from the vending machine in Home Affairs
  • A pen
  • Your patience and a good attitude (if you get there on a particularly busy day)

Like I said, I got there early and this was definitely key in helping me get in and out of there as quickly as possible. The Cape Town Home Affairs opens at 7:30am so I made sure I was already queuing by 7am – there were already 20-30 people in front of me.

When the doors opened sharply at 7:30 we all filed straight in and got given numbers. It seemed that everyone in front of me was there to do other Home Affairs related stuff as they just dispersed into other sections of the building as soon as we got inside… not that I was complaining.

I proceeded to passport applications in the back on the ground floor – there’s 4 stages apply, pay, fingerprint and another biometric process which wasn’t working when I went and officials told me not to worry about it.

Cape Town Home Affairs

Location of Barrack Street Home Affairs in Cape Town:


View Larger Map
Opening Hours:

Monday to Friday: 07:30 – 15:30

Saturday: 08:00 – 12:30 (Only for collections)

Address:

Faircape Building 56 Barrack Street Cape Town, 8001

Contact:

021 468 4500/5 or 0800 60 11 90 for national enquiries

Cape Town Home Affairs Office

Collecting your new SA Passport

I can’t tell you much about collecting your new passport as I’m yet to collect mine; it has only been 5 days since I applied. However, the friendly lady at Home Affairs told me the new South African passport can take up to 6 weeks to arrive but I think they just tell you this to be on the safe side as friends I’ve spoken to have gotten it in as little as 2 weeks. Take the receipt you received on applying + your SA ID book to collect.

Can third parties collect passport on applicant’s behalf?

If you’re unable to collect your new South African passport yourself then you can send someone on your behalf. Just provide them with the following documents:

  • A letter of consent, signed by you, stating that you’re giving your friend permission to collect on your behalf and a reason why you can’t collect it yourself
  • Your friend must take your original ID book with as well as his/hers
  • The proof of payment you received on applying for your new SA passport

Notes

  • If you’re travelling overseas and you only have 6 months left on your passport then it’s a good idea to renew it well before you leave. Most countries will only grant you entrance if you have at least 6 months left on your passport before it expires, so don’t let this little bureaucratic oversight become a hindrance to you and your travels
  • The same goes for the lucky folk that have passports that are nearly full of stamps. Rather renew your passport and have lots more empty pages to fill
  • If you travel a lot, then get a Maxi passport. The Maxi passport has more pages than the normal one and costs R600
  • If you have to renew your SA passport, but you still have a Visa that’s valid on your old passport that you want to use, then don’t worry. Simply take both your old and new passports with you when you travel
  • The latest version of the South African passport looks a little different then what it did in the past. It’s a security enhanced booklet with some new features that aren’t visible to the naked eye – I’ll report back on this as soon as I’ve taken a look at mine

Contrary to popular belief, renewing your South African passport isn’t the painful hassle it once was. If the Cape Town Home Affairs Department is anything to go by, then government has done remarkably well in cleaning up their act. The whole process seems a whole lot more efficient than it did when I last went in 2002.

Joburgers, Durbanites and everyone else, we’d love to hear about your South African passport renewal experiences. Please leave comments below; every tip helps.

Simply enter your ID number to check your passport application status.

Postscript: 27/03/2012

So my new South African passport arrived, ready for collection, exactly 2 weeks after applying for it. I got an SMS from Home Affairs saying Home Affairs: Passport for #MY-ID-NUMBER# is ready for collection at the office of application

Once again I was pretty much in and out when I went to collect the little green book. The new passport features 32 pages plus the biometric card at the back; and it’s handed to you in a little brown envelope. Make sure all your vitals are correct before you leave the department. All in all a positive experience, but I’d still get there early if you want to save time.

189 Comments

  1. linda says:

    where can i download an application form for a South African passport (NOT a renewal). it won’t let me download one from the gov web site.

    • XG says:

      Printed online forms are not accepted. You will get the forms at home affairs (takes 5 minutes to fill them in).

  2. Jody-Ann says:

    Hi

    I’m 16 and moving to my mom in the U.K in Feb. I don’t have a passport yet and my mom needs my passport number for the visa or something.

    Is there a way I could speed up the process when I apply for my passport? Maybe pay a bit extra?

  3. mogau says:

    i have applied for ID 3 weeks ago since then i have not heard anything from the department of home affair in limpopo even a confirmation a sms to show that my application is valid ……please anyone with any information help to find my id application status

    • XG says:

      Go to home affairs – collections, and ask them to check on the system. This is not unusual for ID’s, they do extra checks for duplicates and / or identity theft. My wife waited 3 months, then when she went to collect, they couldn’t find it (lost), she re-applied, we moved, asked them to send it to our local home affairs office… they lost it again, she has applied again.

  4. shaz says:

    I have been trying to track my application online. At first it said 60, then 73, now 90. What do these codes mean. Also does anyone know if singapore accepts temporary passports

    • Carter says:

      Hi Shaz,when did you apply for your passport and did you do so within S.A?My passport status says the same thing “090″.I wish I had a clue as to what stage this refers to.Did you find out what the code means as yet?

  5. charlene says:

    lorna i also hav 2 leav 4 botswana 2moro n im stil waitin 4 my passport. wer did u apply 4 it? kg bsides death n ilnes wat els qualifies s n emergenc? anotha q wat prove is needed?

  6. brett says:

    Hello, I have a question:My SA passport expired a few months ago and I plan to renew ti but I see on this advice blog that one is required to take along SA I.D book? What do I do if I don’t have one? I have been living abroad actually and haven/t had one in about 15 years that I can think of.

  7. Pauline says:

    When does the home affairs in Barrack street open in the new year?

  8. charlene says:

    What does status 090 mean.
    I just want to know how long till I get my passport but instead I get random numbers. Why do they have to make everything so dam hard, when it should be something really simple.

  9. ingred says:

    Can anybody assist me with the passport status codes.
    I have applied for a new passport and am trying to track the progress, site give me a status code of 075 ???? What is the use of having this site if one cannot actually get a progress report??? These codes don’t mean anything to the man on the street.

  10. Sean says:

    Hi All.
    My daughter is back in SA for a visit from New Zealand where she has permanent residence status. Her passport expires mid March and I have been informed that she can’t leave SA without at least 6 months validity on her passport. The Home Affairs website gives this period as 1 month. Given the time of the year and the short time available till she is due back (mid Jan) to continue her studies here, I am getting very nervous! Any comments/advice would be most welcome.

  11. Matt says:

    I have tried calling Home affairs to find out what code 075 means and nobody can tell me or they have no idea what I am talking about. Short of making a trip to home affairs office can someone help.

  12. Allyson Stead says:

    Hi there,

    Just a quick question. Did they do anything to your old passport when you went to renew it? Clip it, punch it?

    I have a valid US visa in my current one, but badly need a new passport, but I read online that if they damage the US visa in any way that it is no longer valid.

    Thanks for your awesome post!

  13. TW says:

    Can anyone give me an idea of how long their passport application in the Cape Town area has taken recently?

  14. Rory Loader says:

    If my passport expires in August, I understand i do need to apply for a new one, When I go to apply, will I still be able to keep my old passport to use , while the new one is being processed. As I am traveling to Serengeti in April. regards rory

    • Hi Rory,

      To be safe, for all international travel your passport should have at least 6 months remaining on it from date of return to SA.

      You are able to use your old passport while your new one is being processed provided the old one is still valid. In other words, Home Affairs won’t cancel your passport just because you are applying for a new one.

      Cheers.

  15. nketsi says:

    I applied for my passport in 2011 at the Pretoria main home affairs. Up to this day it still hasnt come out. I am even put off to apply for a new one.

    • Stuart says:

      What happens if you do not have the receipt for the passport that was ordered. Can you collect it by furnishing your original ID booklet?

  16. Drew says:

    I’m flying back to South Africa at the end of this month and want to renew my expired SA passport. I have dual citizenship so flying back is not an issue. Will i be able to do the DHA-9 finger print form at the Home Affairs Offices on the day i plan to go on, or is this something you need to have ready and done before you arrive.

    • kim says:

      Hi Drew, I have the same problem, my SA passport expires while I’m in the States. I also have dual, so I can get back home (heading home in June), but was wondering if the process of renewing my SA passport would be more complicated if it’s already expired. I’d be really interested to know if you have any more details. Thanks, Kim

  17. I renewed (got another) my latest passport in 2011 at the Potchefstroom Home Affairs office. There wasn’t much of a queue (maybe I was lucky haha) but it was a painless morning. They did also ask me to add my mobile number for a notification by sms and said it would take 6 weeks.
    This was going to cut it fine as I was due to start a solo expedition in 7 weeks – I got the sms 3 weeks later that my passport was ready! Awesome! I could now apply for visas in 2 embassies at the same time haha
    Soon, I’ll have to be applying for another one again.
    Thanks for a great blog.

  18. Rei says:

    Very 1st passports for us, got it all done in 2 1/2 hours in port Elizabeth. Went in at 2pm, out at 4.30pm.

  19. John-Michael Bosman says:

    Hi Russel

    Thanks for this post. When renewing your passport, do you have to hand in your old one and they return it with the new one? Or do they let you keep it?

    Thanks very much
    John

  20. Des says:

    I have about 9 months left on my current passport before it expires. I need to apply for a visa asap before travelling, however once I get to Canada I need to apply for a work permit. Am I better off applying for a new passport now and pray that there are no major delays, or shall I take the risk and apply for the visa with current passport. I have read that applying for new passport from abroad can take up to 6 months…..Phew!

  21. sandra says:

    I am travelling back home to the natal I have a temporary sa passport. Where can I go to get a permanent passport I will be kliving in pennington natal

  22. Barbara says:

    I applied at Maynard Mall just over six weeks ago. I have checked my status and it seems it is “received, being processed”. So six weeks is the minimum and don’t try phoning for any information as they do not answer their phone or respond to e-mails. Chaos! My husband applied in Edenvale, Joburg, and got his within two weeks.

  23. Doreen Nyoni says:

    I would like to knw if i can apply a passport for my child who was born here in South Africa although iam a Zimbabwean.i already have a birth certficate for him.

  24. marion geiger Orengo says:

    Hi Do you know if a mother can apply to renew her childrens SA expired passports withought the kids being with her?

    • Arti says:

      No you can’t. they want to see the children and if they’re under 16, you’ll need their father to be present as well. It’s quite a schlepp but that was my experience un a March this year

  25. Greg says:

    Hi there,

    Great article! It really helped me when applying for my SA passport. I applied for a renewal of my passport on 24 March 2014 and it has been 7 weeks since then. Sadly I haven’t heard anything from them. Should I just go to Home Affairs with my ID book and try my luck? Do you know of a number I can call to find out how far my passport it? That website you put up at the end of your article was invalid so I am at a dead end.

    looking forward to hearing from you

    Greg

  26. playmaker says:

    My passport is valid until 2017 but I have about clean 5 pages left. What’s the deal? Totally new passport… or can they add in pages?
    I travel a bit, so time is of the essence in getting a renewal before I have to travel again… and I don’t want to be told, when I arrive somewhere in East/ West Africa, that I can’t proceed because my current passport doesn’t have enough free pages.

    • Stephanie says:

      The same thing has just happened to me. I took the passport application in for a new maxi passport, paid R600 with 2 photos, in 350 Umgeni Road Durban, was in and out in 5 minutes, and told it will take approx. 4 weeks. I have kept my old passport, but from the day I take delivery of my new passport, my old one is cancelled. However I can still use it when I travel to UK or USA as it has my 10 year visas in it.

  27. Pam says:

    Hi. I thought I’d share today’s experience of trying to apply for a passport for my 9-year-old daughter in Pietermaritzburg. We arrived at 7.30am – they open at 8.30am – and we joined the already very long queue. We stood there (outside the actual building) until 12.30. By this stage we were about 15 people away from the entrance. At 12.30 the security guards shut the doors and said no more people would be attended to. 5 hours of standing! Could someone not have come out at 10am and said we’ll only be able to process up to this point in the queue? This sort of treatment makes for very unhappy citizens.

  28. Podrick says:

    Very helpful and encouraging post. Thank you :)

  29. Alvin says:

    I recently applied for a passport in upington and this was my first time applying for passport. I imagined it would take maybe hours, so I decided to go apply at 10:30 yesterday (22 March 2014). To my luck, there was hardly anyone there. So they sent me to pay and collect 2 receipts. Then sent me to a counter that gave me a sticker with the number 21 (assuming I was the 21st person there that day) and after that they took me to a booth for photos. After I accepted the picture, I had to sign a electronic pad, and then headed for the queue. Just as I sat down, my number got called, so I proceeded to the counter. Answering a few questions, giving my personal details and doing my finger prints on this small square box with a green laser, I finally ended with yet another electronic signature. All this in under 10 minutes, with only a damage of R400. And of course a R5 coin for the guard watching my vehicle.

  30. Toni says:

    My husband and I went to renew our passports on 13th May (2 weeks ago). We went to Home Affairs in Wynberg, Cape Town. Got there at 7.20am and were out by 9.30am. We both got an sms on 22nd May – 9 days later to come and collect. OMG!!!!

  31. SMaharajh says:

    I’ve recently applied for a new passport and I still haven’t received it. My old passport is still valid for another six months. Can I still use my old one to travel or is it cancelled because I’ve applied for a new one.

  32. SMaharajh says:

    I’ve applied for a new passport and I still haven’t received it. My current passport is still valid. Can I still use it to travel or is it cancelled because I applied for a new one?

  33. Keenen says:

    Hi Guys

    I applied for a passport Saturday for the 1st time in my life hahaha… I got offered a job in Dubai and I am kinda scared that time is against me. I need to be in Dubai end of July. They told me at Home affairs that it take 3-8 weeks to get the passport. Only then will be able to apply for a Visa which also takes time… Is the perhaps any way of speeding up the process to get my Passport or do I have to wait out the time given which is 3-8 weeks??? Thanks in advance for much needed info.

  34. Henrietta says:

    Applied for my passport on the 24th March and its the 16th June and no luck.

    Is there a possibility of getting my passport after this long???????????

  35. Elizabeth says:

    Must the photos be black and white or can you use coloured ones?

  36. Coco says:

    Hi Guys

    I recently got married and am contemplating the right time to apply for a new passport which will expire soon. The new passport will automatically be issued in my married name – as my ID has already changed.

    However, I am traveling to the UK at the end of August and the UK Visa is on my maiden name in my current passport also on my maiden name. My flights are also booked on my maiden name.

    If I apply for a new passport on my married name before I leave will I still be able to travel on my current passport in my maiden name. Is the current passport only voided once the new passport is collected?

  37. What a great post. Thanks, it’s very helpful. I hope things are still improved now, in 2014!

  38. Shaun Tuohy says:

    I need to have a new passport (renewed) by March 2015. When is the earliest I can apply for the renewed passport?

  39. Helena says:

    I have applied for the renewal of my passport at the Paarl office on 31 March 2014.I did not receive it as yet and is becoming a concern now.On the Home Affair website the status is: Received to be processed. How long can this take?It is scary.

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