Immigration. Travel. Living.

Passport of South Africa

Types of passports

There are five types of South African passports:

  • Regular passport

These passports are issued to citizens aged 16 and over and are intended for irregular travel such as vacation or business trips. They contain 32 pages and are valid for 10 years. Regular passports cannot be renewed – after their expiration, applications for new passports must be submitted.

  • Maxi passport

Similar to regular passports, but they contain 48 pages for those who travel frequently. Like regular passports, they are issued to citizens aged 16 and over, are valid for 10 years, and cannot be renewed. As with a regular passport, when the maxi passport expires, a new passport application must be submitted.

  • Children’s passport

These passports are issued to citizens aged 15 and under. They are valid for five years and cannot be renewed.

  • Official passport

These passports are issued to officials attached to government agencies who must travel on official business. They are valid for five years and are issued to officials free of charge by the Ministry of the Interior.

  • Diplomatic passport

Issued to diplomats and consuls for business travel and accompanying dependents.

Application and wearing

Until more modern and digital methods were introduced to apply for a South African passport, it was necessary to fill out the BI-73 application form and bring photos of the appropriate size to ensure the correct identity.

Photographs and other biometric data are currently being taken on site. South African passports are issued by any South African interior office, but they are all printed in the administrative capital of Pretoria.

Under the South African Citizenship Act (Act 88 of 1995), as amended by the South African Citizenship Act (Act 17 of 2004), South Africans can hold dual citizenship, but cannot use their citizenship of another country to gain an advantage or avoid responsibility while in South Africa.

It is also illegal for adults with South African citizenship to enter or leave South Africa with a foreign passport. Dual citizens using a non-South African passport to enter/exit South Africa may be prevented from crossing border checkpoints and may be fined or imprisoned for up to 12 months. However, the use of their non-South African passport is permitted for entry/exit from any country other than South Africa.

cityscape during daytime

Visa-free entry

Visa requirements for South African citizens are administrative entry restrictions imposed by foreign authorities on South African citizens. In 2019, South African citizens had visa-free or visa-free access to 100 countries and territories on arrival, ranking 51st globally for South African passports (along with Belize) according to Henley’s Visa Restrictions Index.


How to get citizenship in South Africa?

There are two ways to obtain South African citizenship: by birth and through naturalization. It is impossible to buy citizenship by investment.

A child born in South Africa with at least one parent-citizen or permanent resident status becomes a citizen. If the child was born into a family with a citizen parent, but abroad, he also receives South African citizenship.

To obtain South African citizenship through naturalization, you must:

  • Live from 10 years in the status of a permanent resident;
  • The consideration of the application begins after the officials verify the information about your status;
  • The person is required to provide an extract from the police, as well as a letter with permission for second citizenship from the country of his current citizenship and attach them to the application;
  • You can follow the consideration of the application using special services;
  • It is necessary to pass a language proficiency test and attach the results to the application;
  • It is mandatory to attend the naturalization ceremony and appear before a judge who will issue citizenship. Absence from the ceremony can lead to the refusal to issue citizenship.

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