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.

South African Passport Renewal

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.

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.

147 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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!

  7. 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

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