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Smart Identity Document (ID) Card roll-out

The first Smart ID Card will be handed over to eminent South Africans on 18 July 2013.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor made the announcement at a media briefing on 4 July, where she explained the features and the roll-out plan for the new cards.

The card body is secure and durable, made of quality polycarbonate materials which will prevent tampering.

It also has two forms of security features:

  • The first is physical security features on the card body such as holograms, laser engraving and personal details which will provide visual verification of the card and easily identify tampered cards.
  • Logical security features include fingerprint biometrics and biographic data which is embedded on the 80 kilobytes card chip.

Personalisation with laser engraving of demographic details and photographs makes the new card extremely difficult to forge or tamper with. The smart card will cut down on the fraudulent use of fake or stolen IDs, which is a major concern.

Rolling out the new IDs

The Department of Home Affairs will issue the Smart ID Card to new applicants as well reissue current ID holder with the new card.

People older than 80 – the “Mandela generation” - will be the first to be issued with the new cards. Applicants will be invited to Home Affairs offices in stages, according to their dates of birth.

In the first phase of this project, 27 Home Affairs regional offices will process Smart ID Card, with other offices following suit over the next three years.

Pandor said the plan is to issue the Smart ID Card to all South Africans over the next eight years and to phase out the existing green ID book.

It is envisaged that the new smartcard process will take only three days, whereas the turnaround time on the old green barcoded ID was about 54 days after application. Home Affairs has said that it is likely to be able to produce three million ID cards a year.

National Population Register

The department plays a critical role in maintaining national security through effective and efficient identity management. A major part of this process is an accurate National Population Register.

Pandor said that the new Smart ID Card would greatly assist in this process. 

Government is also currently cleaning up its National Population Register by encouraging citizens with duplicate identities to seek assistance in resolving this matter, as well as to call upon citizens to ensure they are accurately recorded in the National Population Register through fingerprint verification.

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