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When travelling abroad the general rule is that your passport needs to be valid for 6 months. Most countries require this. My children’s passports were expiring in 2 months time which was a bit of a problem. We tried going to Home Affairs a while ago but one look at the long line snaking outside the office and we were out of there. After mustering up enough courage, I scheduled another trip to Home Affairs a few months later. Before going in, I phoned to find out what the queue was like. The woman on the other end of the line said that it was worse than Christmas and New Year on the beach. I gave up. Then I decided to look into applying online. I remembered seeing somewhere that it was only available for adults between the age of 25 to 40 but I thought I’d check it out anyway.
How to apply for a South African passport online
Online registration and submission
I went to the Department of Home Affairs’ website and saw a link to apply for your South African passport or Smart ID online. It took me to https://ehome.dha.gov.za/echannel . I registered on this website then found options to apply for a passport online for myself or for minors. I selected the Minor Passport option, completed the forms and submitted them online.
The questions were quite straightforward however there was one unusual question – “How many spouses do you have?” . Maybe, it’s not so unusual in the South African context though.
I was required to select a branch where I wanted to collect my passport. Apart from Home Affairs branches all over the country, there were options to select certain ABSA and Standard Bank branches in Johannesburg and Pretoria (about three of each bank). I selected Standard Bank Killarney which was most convenient for me. Mine and my husband’s ID copies were required, which I uploaded and submitted online.
I was then required to initiate a payment instruction, by entering my bank account details. Thereafter I logged into my Standard Bank internet banking account and found the My Bills option under Payments. I selected the Department of Home Affairs as a beneficiary. The payment instruction then appeared under My Bills. I entered my reference number and approved the payment. The passport renewal fee is currently R400 for a normal passport.
Booking an Appointment
Once the payment had been registered by the Department of Home Affairs, I was taken to a page to book an appointment for biometrics (fingerprints). Note that if you want to go to Home Affairs for this step, no booking is necessary. (Just expect to wait in long lines). I selected Standard Bank Killarney again and then had to select a time slot.
I received an appointment confirmation which I had to take with me to the bank.
At every step above, I would receive an email and SMS notification.
I went to Standard Bank Killarney on Friday at 2pm – which was the latest appointment I could get. They had a separate Home Affairs section within the Bank. There were no queues at all. They took photos of my kids in the photo booth and asked for mine and my husband’s electronic thumbprints and signatures. I didn’t even have to give in photos or any other documents however do take your ID book/card and old passport with ( if you have one). I was told that I would receive a notification to collect the passports in 2- 3 weeks. The staff were efficient and compared to Home Affairs, the whole process was a pleasure.
I received an SMS and an email on 22 August (10 days later) to say that the passports were ready for collection.
- Beware of incorrect information – Prior to making the appointment, I had emailed Standard Bank to confirm that their Killarney branch processed passport applications and they replied to say that it was “only open to all Standard Bank customers between the age of 25 to 40 who have an active Internet Banking account”. Then I asked the same question on their Facebook page and they confirmed that it was open to all ages. When I went into the Killarney branch they told me that it had just opened up to all ages from a week ago. Apparently their call centres had not been informed yet.
- You have to be a Standard Bank, FNB or Absa Internet Banking customer. Payment has to be processed online. You can’t go into the bank and pay as they are not authorised to accept payments and you can’t pay from someone else’s account. Only adults applying for their minor children can use their accounts to pay for the children.
- If you are applying for a new South African passport when you have an existing one, your old passport needs to expire within the next 6 months.
- If you are applying because your old South African passport is full, then you need to have 3 or less blank pages. If you have more than 3 blank pages, you will not be able to apply for a new one.
Update: As at October 2019, This service is currently only available at the following bank branches.
- Absa Centurion Lifestyle
- Absa Ghandi Square
- Absa Towers
- FNB Lifestyle
- FNB Lynnwood (Grove Shopping Mall)
- FNB – 4 Merchant Place
- FNB President Street West
- Nedbank Lakeview Office Park
- Nedbank 135 Rivonia Road
- Nedbank Arcadia
- Standard Bank Canal Walk
- Standard Bank Centurion
- Standard Bank Killarney Mall
- Standard Bank Simmonds Street
For more updates on this process and the roll-out to the rest of the country, be sure to enter your email address here. Don’t forget to click on the confirmation link in the email you receive.
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