General information about South African passports
A passport is a document issued by a national government for international travel and it certifies the identity and nationality of the holder.
Applicants should note that In terms of section 26(B) of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995, it is a punishable offence for a South African citizen of 18 years and older to leave or enter South Africa on a foreign passport.
South African passports and travel documents are issued in terms of the South African Passports and Travel Documents Act, 1994, and the related Regulations.
Permanent South African passports and travel documents (machine-readable documents) are printed only in Pretoria, South Africa, from where they are dispatched to the offices of application. Applications made within South African borders can be submitted to any office of the Department of Home Affairs; applications made outside of the country can be submitted to your nearest South Africa embassy or mission.
It is important to know that when you apply for a passport, whether in South Africa or overseas, you must apply in person because:
- The passport officer must be satisfied that your identity is legal and valid
- The passport officer must check that your photograph is a true image of yourself; and
- Your fingerprints must be taken (for people who are aged 16 years or older) and checked against the National Population Register
You must also note that:
- All documents required for passport applications should be completed in black ink
- Husband, wife and children must all complete separate application forms. Both parents and the children concerned must be present when applying for passports for children. See exceptions under Tourist Passports:persons under 16
- Passports are issued in accordance with your names as they appear in the National Population Register (NPR) at the time of your application. Any changes to your names must be applied for, finalised and recorded in the NPR before you submit your passport application
You must have a South African identity number when you apply for a passport. In the event that you do not have a South African identity number, you must apply for the registration of your birth and for a South African identity document, as the case may be, first.
If you do not have a valid regular passport and you need to travel urgently, you can apply for an emergency travel document/certificate subject to the requirements below. Remember that some countries do not accept emergency travel documents/certificates. You must check this with the relevant authorities of the country you intend visiting before applying for emergency passport/travel certificates.
Except for official and diplomatic passports, fees are applicable for all types of passport / travel document applications. Applications to replace lost, stolen or damaged passports will be double the normal fee if the incident was as a result of the passport/travel document owner’s negligence.
A regular tourist passport contains 32 pages, but frequent travellers can opt to get a maxi tourist passport with 48 pages.
Tourist passports: persons16 years and older and maxi tourist passports are only issued to SA citizens 16 years or older. These passports are valid for 10 years.
Tourist passports: persons under 16 years are issued to SA citizens who are aged 15 years or younger. These passports are valid for 5 years.
Passports cannot be renewed. Once the validity period of a passport expires you will have to submit a new application for a passport.
Passports must be valid for at least 30 days after the intended date of departure. Passports should also have at least two blank pages for entry stamps. The blank pages cannot include the “endorsement” page at the back of the book. If you need a visa, you must ensure that your passport has two blank facing pages – one for the visa and one for an entry stamp.
South African passports include the following information:
- A photo of the passport holder
- Type of passport
- Issuing country
- Passport number
- Given names and surname of the passport holder
- Nationality of the passport holder
- Gender of passport holder
- Birth date
- Birth place
- Issue date
- Expiry date
- Issuing authority