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How to apply for your passport when you are abroad

Jan 18, 2024

For South Africans who live and work beyond the country’s borders, a passport is an important document that not only ensures access to international travel, but which is also a proof of nationality and identity.

AfriForum Worldwide receive a lot of enquiries about passports. We have therefore compiled a question-and-answer guide for South Africans on this topic.

Why is a passport a necessity when you live abroad?

South Africans over the age of 18 will be denied entry to their home country with a foreign passport. It is a punishable offense to try to visit the country without the correct passport.  

Where can I get a new passport?

Your passport is an official state document that confirms your identity as a South African. When your passport expires you have to complete a DHA-73 form, which is available at your nearest South African embassy or consulate.

It will also have to be established whether you are indeed a South African citizen. A DHA-529 form needs to be completed to confirm your citizenship.

Be aware that the requirements may differ from one country to the next. You can find a comprehensive list of South African embassies abroad here. You can visit the website for more information.  

Why do I have to be present if I want to apply for a new passport?

Third parties are not allowed to collect a South African passport on behalf of someone else. As passport also cannot be sent by courier to the person who applied for it. South African authorities implemented this rule in 2022 in an attempt to curb fraud with South African passports.

An application for a new passport always has to be done in person, in order for officials to confirm:

  • that you are who you say you are, in other words, that your identity document is valid;
  • that it is really you on your passport photo and not somebody else; and
  • that your fingerprints are registered on the national population register.

Which documents do I need to get a new passport?

When applying for a new passport, you need to take these documents with you:

  • The complete application form, which you have received and completed at the embassy.
  • Your original identity document.
  • A copy of your identity document.
  • If you are younger than 16, your birth certificate, copy of the certificate, as well as your parents’ written consent are required.  
  • The complete DHA-529 form which confirms that you are a South African currently living abroad.
  • If you have a tourist passport, you also need to bring it with you.
  • Four full-colour ID photos.

How much does a new passport cost?

In November 2022 passport fees increased with up to 200%. For example, passport fees are currently AUD 103 for adults in Australia, which can be rounded off to about R1 200 today. These fees may even be as much as R2 400 in total. It is advisable to plan and budget for this expense beforehand.

For how long is a South African passport valid?  

A South African passport is valid for ten years and cannot be renewed. Once it has expired one has to apply for a new passport.

South African authorities determine that your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your planned departure date. The passport should also have at least two clean pages for arrival stamps. The empty pages should exclude the endorsement pages.      

You should keep in mind however that some countries insist that your passport be valid for three to six months after your intended travel dates. Since these requirements differ from country to country, we suggest you talk to your travel agent or airline for advice.

It is important to apply for your passport in time to avoid unnecessary problems or delays.  

Do you live in South Africa?

Individuals in South Africa can use the eHome Affairs system for several purposes, such as submitting online applications for IDs and passports, doing online payments and making bookings where applicable. A visit to a physical branch is however still necessary for them to obtain your biometric data – including photos, fingerprints and signatures.

Here is a list of bank branches where South Africans can schedule appointments to renew passports or apply for smart ID cards:

About the author

Sue-Ann de Wet

Sue-Ann de Wet is the Head of Diaspora at AfriForum.


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