New Smart ID and Passport offices coming to South Africa – including more e-Visa countries

 ·2 Apr 2024

The Department of Home Affairs says it plans to extend its live-capture system for Smart IDs and Passports to five new front offices in 2024, while also adding more countries to the growing list that can apply for e-Visas.

In the department’s annual performance plan for 2024/25, it noted the success of its push to modernise and boost the efficiency of Home Affairs offices in the country.

Key to this process is the introduction of live capture terminals at offices across the country. Live capture is an automated process of enrolling and capturing applications in front offices securely and more efficiently than manual capture.

The DHA said that it first implemented live capture functionality to apply for passports and smart identity cards in 2013, and the system has since been rolled out to 202 offices, and 30 bank branches across the country.

“The functionality will be rolled out to an additional five front offices in the 2024/25 financial year, improving access to smart ID cards and passports and reducing the issuance of green barcoded ID books,” it said.

The DHA said it issued 2.6 million smart ID cards against a target of 2.2 million in the 2022/23 financial year, bringing the number of smart ID cards issued to more than 21 million since inception in 2013.

“The DHA is on track to achieve the 2023/24 annual target of 2.5 million, with more than 2 million smart cards issued between April and December 2023,” it said.

The five new office planned for 2024 include:

  • Masisi (Limpopo)
  • Seshego (Limpopo)
  • Madikwe (North West)
  • Ventersdorp (North West) and
  • Lady Frere (Eastern Cape).

The new offices are expected to be rolled out later in the year – three in the third quarter and two in the fourth quarter.

The department previously expressed confidence in the rolling out of its satellite offices (which include the live capture system) at banks and shopping malls in South Africa, but it has not yet given an update on the public-private partnership (PPP) between itself and the various banking groups in the country.

The pilot for the project with the banks ended in March 2024, with no follow-up from the department or banking groups.

Despite this, the DHA said it would continue to build on its current PPP models to enhance its services, especially in the hopes of cutting down queue times. A particular focus is moving into shopping malls.

“The DHA has engaged with various shopping malls that meet its accessibility and office model requirements. A DHA office was opened in Menlyn Mall in March 2023. Lessons learnt will be applied in the further rollout to other malls,” it said.

Target malls include Cresta Mall (to ease congestion at Randburg) and Pavilion Mall (to ease congestion at uMngeni and Pinetown).

Rollout to these malls is subject to signing memoranda of understanding. Negotiations are currently underway, the department said.

E-Visa expansion

Another system being constantly updated to combat long wait times is the department’s e-Visa regime, which allows countries that are not visa exempt to facilitate visa applications digitally.

The e-Visa system has so far rolled out to 34 countries that are not visa exempted. These countries are regarded as the main tourism producers, the department said.

Over the next two years, the departments wants to roll the system out to another 15 countries – five in 2024 and ten in 2025 – as well as expand the types of visas that qualify.

The e-Visa system will be expanded to include study, business and intra-company transfer visas, the department said.

The system was piloted in three countries up to the end of March 2024 (Japan, Germany, France), and five countries will be added in 2024/25, including:

  • Spain
  • Italy
  • United Kingdom
  • Kenya and
  • Uganda

The department did not specify the ten countries to be added in 2025.

Through the e-Visa system, applicants are able to apply for the visa from the comfort of their homes and upload all supporting documents.

The application will be received at the e-Visa hub in South Africa where an adjudicator will adjudicate the application and request for verification of supporting documents from the relevant company or via a mission.

The applicant will be referred to the mission to submit biometrics and interview.

On receipt of all verifications, the adjudicator will take a decision. The e-Visa outcome is sent to the applicant via e-mail, which they will print and, if approved, use this to proceed to a port of entry.

Read: Good news for South Africa’s visa backlog – with a catch

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