Smart Identity Document (ID) card roll-out

The Department of Home Affairs started replacing the green bar-coded identity documents (IDs) with smart ID cards on 18 July 2013. The new ID cards have better security features and will be extremely difficult to forge.

Minister Nadeldi Pandor with a smart ID cardProgress

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on 30 September 2015 officially launched a pilot project which will see two major banks, First National Bank and Standard Bank, issuing smart ID cards.

The two banks kick started the project by allowing their employees to apply for the smart ID cards before allowing members of the public to apply for their new IDs as well as passports.

By January 2015, the Department has issued over 1 million Smart ID cards. Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said they were confident of reaching the target of 1.6 million cards by the end of the 2014/15 financial year. The cards are issued free of charge to 16 year olds as well as those who are 60 years old and above.

Of the 403 Home Affairs offices, 140 are equipped with the live capture system needed for the processing of smart ID cards and new passports.

Security features

The card body is secure and durable, made of quality polycarbonate materials which will prevent tampering.

It also has two forms of security features:

  • The first is physical security features on the card body such as holograms, laser engraving and personal details which will provide visual verification of the card and easily identify tampered cards.
  • Logical security features include fingerprint biometrics and biographic data which is embedded on the 80 kilobytes card chip.

Personalisation with laser engraving of demographic details and photographs makes the new card extremely difficult to forge or tamper with. The smartcard will cut down on the fraudulent use of fake or stolen IDs, which is a major concern.


The Department of Home Affairs issues the smart ID card to new applicants as well reissue current ID holders with the new card. People older than 80 – the Mandela generation - will be the first to be issued with the new cards. Applicants will be invited to Home Affairs offices in stages, according to their dates of birth.

Minister Pandor said the plan is to issue the smartcard ID to all South Africans over eight years from 2013 and to phase out the existing green ID book.

National Population Register

The Department plays a critical role in maintaining national security through effective and efficient identity management. A major part of this process is an accurate National Population Register. Minister Pandor said that the new smartcard ID would greatly assist in this process.  “This will be a major step towards creating a modern, reliable population register,“ she said.

The Government is also currently cleaning up its National Population Register by encouraging citizens with duplicate identities to seek assistance in resolving this matter as well as to call upon citizens to ensure they are accurately recorded in the National Population Register through fingerprint verification.

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