New secure passport to be introduced next week

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Johannesburg - The new South African passport, which has more security features, will come into effect from next week.

From 8 April, South Africans who apply for a new passport will be introduced to a new document with complex security features which will be difficult to reproduce illegally.

Addressing the media on Thursday, Home Affairs Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said the document will see a significant improvement in the security of the South African passport.

"One of the major differences between the old and new passport is the pure polycarbonate data page that replaces the current security paper data page with its overlay film. Personal data will in future be laser-engraved into the data page instead of being printed on the overlay film," said the minister.

She said it was a major feat that all the secure material used in the production of the new passport was sourced locally.

The introduction of the new document forms part of the department's turnaround strategy which will soon change focus from the backlog challenges that existed in the issuing of birth, marriage and death certificates.

"Another area in which huge improvements are balanced by remaining challenges is the issue of refugees. Despite the far-reaching improvements we have made to our processes, the fact is that our systems were not designed to deal with the number of people entering our country at the moment," said Ms Mapisa-Nqakula.

The department is expected to open the Tshwane Interim Refugee Reception centre during April.