An identity document is important to get as soon as you are eligible (from 15 years of age) as it proves your identity. The green bar-coded Identity book (ID book) is also a legal form of identity when dealing with public and private institutions. There are many occasions when you will be requested to provide a copy of your ID book – for example for access to housing, education and healthcare services; to apply for a driver’s license for a job; when entering into business agreements and even when registering for the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

You will also need an ID book to apply for a passport, and visas to work, study or visit friends and family overseas. In addition you need your ID book to register to vote in the general and municipal elections.

You can apply for your ID book at any office of the Department of Home Affairs or any South African mission or consulate overseas. All applications are sent to the Department’s head office in Pretoria. There the application will be processed and once issued, your ID book will be forwarded to the office where you made your application for you to collect.

For permanent residence holders:

Once you receive your permanent residence certificate you must apply for an ID book within 6 months. But you have to consider that the processing times are currently 3 to 6 months or longer.

After you received the permanent residence permit, the first step is to apply for permanent residence verification and once verified only then you can apply for a South African ID book.

First time applications for ID books are free of charge.