frequently asked question

I want to renew my passport, what must I do?

South African passports are not renewable. You must apply for a new passport when it expires. Please visit the page with information on how to apply for a passport.

My passport has not expired but I am running out of pages, can I have pages added to it?

Unfortunately pages can not be added to South African passports. You must apply for a new passport instead. If you travel frequently, you may opt for a maxi passport.

I already have a passport, do I still need to fill up all those forms?

Yes, all three forms (BI-73, BI-9 and BI-529) are required when applying for a South African passport.

I already have a passport, do I need to submit a copy of my ID/birth certificate?

Yes. The South African passport alone is not sufficient. You must present a copy of your ID/birth certificate.

I am a dual citizen, but I don’t know where my letter of retention/exemption is.

Request a copy from the office which issued your original letter of retention / exemption. Without it, your application for a new South African passport will not be accepted.

I am a naturalized citizen, and I don’t have my naturalization certificate.

Your application for a passport will be deemed incomplete without the naturalization certificate.

What is BI-73 form?

South African citizens who are 16 years or older need to sign (the form) and to submit left thumbprint (what about the right thumb print?).

Section B of BI-73 states that only an officer of the Department of Home Affairs can sign this section. I am in the United States now, how do I do that?

Section B is only applicable if you are applying for a passport while in South Africa. Outside the country, apart from a South African Consulate or Embassy, any police officer/notary public in your area can also fill, sign and stamp Section B. If Section B is not filled in and stamped, your application form will be returned to you.

BI-73: I recently got married in the United States and need to change my name. Which form do I need to fill up for name change?

If you want to use your married name or double-barrel name, all you need to do is apply for a new passport using that name and submit a notarized / certified copy of your marriage certificate.

Married applicants using maiden or double-barrel names must provide a letter requesting the new passport to be in the applicant’s maiden name or double-barrel name.

BI-73: How do I register my U.S. marriage in South Africa?

You can register your U.S. marriage through your application for South African passport. Please note that male applicants who got married abroad need to submit a copy of their marriage certificate.

BI-73: The mother/father of my child is not here to sign section C, what do I do?

Home Affairs will not accept a minor’s application for passport without both parents’ signatures unless there is a legal document provided. If you are divorced, you have to show proof in your divorce decree that you have both sole custody and guardianship of the child. (Sole custody is not enough). If the divorce decree does not specify custody and guardianship, you will need to get the other parent’s approval / signature.

BI-73: Section D, how do answer question B?

Section D means so you have citizenship of another country beside your South African citizenship. Just put ‘yes or no’

Question B is merely asking whether you have had a South African passport. If yes, write down your passport number and when it was issued.

BI-9: I already have an ID book, do I need to fill this form?

Yes, BI-9 is not an application for an ID book or ID card. It is part of passport application and South Africans 16 years or older have to fill this form.

Do not send form BI-9 blank with just your fingerprints. Fill up the reverse side and sign it or it will be returned to you.

BI-9: Home Affairs already has my fingerprints on file, do I really really need this form?

Yes, you still need to fill up BI-9. Please make sure you submit this form to avoid delay in processing your application.

BI-9: In the United States, police stations do not manually take fingerprints, but are taken electronically on cards.

Home Affairs will not accept fingerprints which not on the BI-9 form. If you are having problems in your area, you can come in to the nearest South African Consulate or Embassy to have your fingerprints taken. We are open Mondays to Fridays, between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.

BI-9: How do I fill the “personal status” ?

Only naturalized citizens need to fill up this line. If you were born in South Africa you may skip this.

BI-9: I do not have my parents ID number for the “supporting document”?

Please call your father and/or mother and ask.

BI-9: My spouse is not South African and does not have an ID number, what do I do?

Write down “‘american citizen” (or other citizenship which applies) across.

BI-9: On “remarks” what do I put in?

You do not have to put in anything unless there is something you need to explain.

BI-9: The police officer/notary public does not have an ID number, what do they put in where it says ‘fingerprints taken….”

The police officer/notary public may write his/her name as the person taking the fingerprints with badge number instead of ID number.

BI-9: Where it says left/rights prints, do I put in my whole hand or just the palms?

You need to put your four fingers together (do not include the thumb) and put those prints.

BI 529: I am already a South African citizen, why do need to fill this form?

All South African citizens abroad have to fill up the BI-529 form. If you do not submit this form, your application will be returned as incomplete.

BI 529: What does Question 9 mean?

(a) means when did you leave South Africa to stay abroad. Please do not count vacations in RSA.

(b) is why. State whatever reasons you had for leaving.

BI 529: I do not know my parents’ ID numbers.

Call your parents, siblings and/or other relatives and ask.

BI 529: I do not know my parents’ details.

If they are still alive, call and ask.

BI 529: One or both my parents are deceased and I do not have any details.

Fill in as much information as possible, (i.e. full names) and write on top ‘deceased’.

BI 529: I am an adult and I do not need my parents to apply for a passport, can I leave section C and D blank?

No. South African passport applicants 16 years and older are required to fill up sections C and D.

Identity Documents

All South African citizens 16 years and older are eligible to apply for new identity documents. Please send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the consulate nearest you to receive the required forms.

First time passport applicants, especially children who left South Africa as minors, must have identity documents. Applicants are required to appear at the nearest South African Consulate/Embassy to have their fingerprints taken. Parents are urged to ensure that their children apply for their ID books as this ensure their children’s identity (fingerprints) are registered in South Africa thus preventing anyone else from using their particulars in South Africa.