A pleasant home affairs experience is not a myth.
The best tip I have received this year came after I mentioned in passing that I needed a replacement ID but going to home affairs is such a pain. “You should do it online” was the response I got.
With an actual human recommendation, I looked further into eHomeAffairs. I discovered that this Home Affairs online portal allows you to apply for or renew both passports and the new smart ID cards, so with an outdated ID book and expired passport, I decided to give both a try.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the best Home Affairs experience of my life and the extreme efficiency this process provided.
How does Home Affairs online work?
You go to the website and register. Once registered you login and start a new application either for yourself or a minor. You can select to apply for a passport or smart ID card or both.
Insider’s tip: If you aren’t quick enough at filling out the application, the system logs you off so make sure you have all the info you need on hand. You will need:
- Your cell phone because it requires OTP’s.
- Your email open to click confirmation links
- Your old passport if applying for a new one so you can reference expiry dates and passport number
- Your ID number (if it hasn’t been conditioned to memory)
Once filled out you click ‘submit’ and if you need to upload any supporting documents it will tell you. I did not need to.
You then need to pay. You input your bank details and then login to your online banking where an instruction has already been sent to your my bills section. You pay like you would any other EFT and it sends a confirmation back to home affairs that the bill has been paid. You also get an email notification to confirm your payment was successful. The new smart card ID was R140 and the passport R400.
You then need to book an appointment. I chose to make an appointment at a home affairs enabled bank office instead of going to home affairs and the process was so smooth sailing that I would recommend you do the same.
You need to select a branch of the bank you bank with. My branch did not have a home affairs office, but the nearest branch of my bank was less than 10km away from me.
When I clicked ‘make a booking’, I was not expecting appointments available from the next day but there were and better than being able to select your day, you get to select your time slot too (within 1-hour slots). You also get an email and sms confirmation of your chosen booking.
You then print your confirmation letter and take it to your appointment along with your green bar-coded ID book or an affidavit if yours is lost/ stolen.
I chose the first-morning appointment and arrived a few minutes before the bank opened. There was a queue of about 5 people in front of me and when the bank opened we all filed into the bank’s home affairs office. At the front counter, the assistant scanned our confirmation letters, verified our ID’s and then there was a lovely row of comfortable chairs to sit on to wait. As each home affairs agent was ready, they called out our names – in the order we arrived.
The wait was minimal and the process, once I got to the counter, was approximately 5 minutes. My details were confirmed, my finger prints were taken digitally and then I sat in their photo-booth, where my photo was taken digitally too. I was then asked where I wanted to collect my ID & passport – I chose the same location.
I was told that I would get an SMS when they were ready (5-7 working days was the expected timeline) and that they wouldn’t necessarily be ready on the same day but that I could wait to fetch in one go. You have 3 months to collect your documents and you do not need to make an appointment to collect them, you just show up with your ID or affidavit.
How long does it take?
I was in and out of the bank in less than an hour. As soon as my appointment was finished I received an SMS and an email confirming my application had been received.
7 days later (4 business days later) I received an SMS and email to say my passport was ready for collection. A day after that my ID was ready. It took me two weeks to schedule myself time to get back to the bank to collect, and when I did, I was in and out in less than 30 minutes.
Best home affairs experience ever, and, my documents happen to contain the best passport/ID photo I have ever had.
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Main Image by Zissy Lewin for Nutreats®