South Africans get new high security passport from today

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pretoria - South Africans who apply for or renew their passports will from today receive a new passport with more security features.

The new passport is tamper-proof and difficult to reproduce illegally.

Chief Executive Officer for Government Printing Works, responsible for the printing of passports, Tom Moyane said the country was ahead of technology in producing the new document.

He said the new passport had fine line security background designs depicting the Big Five printed on the pages and principal and secondary photos as well as an interlock stitching, which would be difficult for anyone to tamper with.

"The passport holder's biographical data is laser engraved on a polycarbonate page and the paper used for the other pages of the passport includes a watermark," he said.

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.

"It will be difficult for even the mafia to temper with the new passport," Mr Moyane joked.

He noted that the facility where the passports will be printed is highly secured.

Department of Home Affairs Chief Director of Communications, Siobhan McCarthy said the previous South African passport would remain valid until its expiry date and there was no need for people to rush to the offices to replace the existing ones.

She explained that the new passport was introduced as part of the department's turnaround programme aimed at improving customer service and stamping out the falsification of documents.

The recently introduced online fingerprint verification system would also be used to confirm the identity of the applicant and minimise risks identity fraud.

"To confirm your identity, with the new passport, the applicants would be required to visit our office in person."

She emphasised that with the new passports, the applicants will be required to submit high resolution photos upon applications adding that service provides have been informed about this requirement.

No colour photos will be allowed for the new passport, adults and children passports will now be the same colour but the content inside will not be same. Life expectancy for adult passport will still be 10 years and five years for children.