Big boost for Smart ID and passport applications in South Africa

 ·27 Jun 2023

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has approved a temporary extension of operating times at front offices by two hours from 08h00 to 17h30.

This extension, effective Tuesday (27 July 2023), applies to the 198 modernised Live Capture offices that process smart ID cards and passports, said the department.

According to the department, this is to deal with the high demand for smart ID cards and passport services at Home Affairs offices.

“The department usually receives a higher volume of applications during school holidays. To meet the demand during this period, we have extended operating hours,” Motsoaledi said in a statement on Monday.

Motsoaledi emphasised that this is a temporary extension but did not mention when this extension would end.

The extension of its offices’ operating hours to accommodate the high volumes is good news for South Africans, considering long queues and processing times often characterise the department.

Computer systems are often offline, causing delays in the processing of documents, and many physical branches are not exempt from load shedding.

Motsoaledi said, however, that his department is working hard to tackle the problem of long queues at offices across the country.

Debating the department’s 2023/24 budget vote in May 2023, the minister outlined several initiatives underway to achieve this, including the progress being made on overhauling the department’s tech and networks and the rollout of more mobile banking units to serve underserviced communities.

The minister said the department currently has 120 units, with 100 more being manufactured. The goal is to purchase hundreds more of these units, he said, adding that he won’t be happy until there are over 1,000 such units in operation.

Additionally, the department launched satellite offices in major malls nationwide earlier this year. It has also expressed interest in expanding its services to more bank branches.

For South African-born citizens, there are 27 bank branches where they can renew their passports or smart IDs across the country, with many more to come.

Initially scheduled to end in July 2022, the pilot programme has been extended until September 2023 by participating banks and the Banking Association of South Africa.

Most of the current DHA-supported bank branches favour First National Bank (FNB) and Standard Bank, which together have 16 of all DHA-supported bank locations. A breakdown is provided below:

  • Standard Bank — 9
  • FNB — 7
  • Nedbank — 5
  • Absa — 4
  • Discovery Bank — 1
  • Investec — 1

Read: Big blow to households in South Africa next week

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