Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Applying for a Passport through SA's Dept of Home Affairs

My current passport was soon going to run out of blank pages, so it was time to apply for a new passport. Because I travel extensively, I had to go for the "Maxi" version which is basically double the amount of pages than the normal passport and obviously double the price. Because of the history of "poor service" from the Department of Home Affairs, I decided to keep track of this whole process to make a decision later whether the service was indeed poor or not.

August 24, 11h15
I phone the Dept of Home Affairs to find out what I need in the sense of documentation to apply for a maxi passport. NO ANSWER! The civil servants are on strike.

August 24, 12h15
I try the Dept of Home Affairs website. I don't know who designed and administrates the website, but in general it looks very good. I locate the application form for passports, but the web site seems to be slow and I cannot download the application form.

September 10, 15h00
I waited for the strike to end and start my process of applying for a passport again. The web site apparently is also back from the strike and I manage to download the papers.

September 13, 10h28
After getting all my documents, photo's etc together, I still cannot find the amount to pay for a Maxi passport. I phone the Malmesbury branch hoping that I would get better service than the Bellville branch who has a very bad reputation for poor service delivery (like most governmental offices). NO ANSWER. I tried a couple of times more but to no avail. The rumour that no-one ever picks up the phone at the Dept of Home affairs seems to be true!

September 13, 11h24
I phone two more offices in Cape Town - NO ANSWER. Wondering if there might be something wrong with my own line, I decide to phone the smallest town in the Western Cape with a Dept of Home Affairs, Beaufort-West. Amazingly someone answers. "Not yet aware that civil servants can earn a salary without having to do anything", I figured. The cost of a maxi passport is R380. Tomorrow I will take my application to the office in Malmesbury which, according to the web site, opens at 7.30. Wish me luck.

September14, 7h30
I stop at the Dept of Home Affairs in Malmesbury, 50 km from Cape Town. I came here knowing that the Bellville office is a nightmare; the queues are long, the whole process not working and the illegal immigrants looking for asylum crowds the place. What a surprize. The doors open at 7.30 sharp and I am second in line. The lady behind the counter is friendly and at 7.48 I am done. (The printer was jammed, so I had to wait about 7 minutes extra for my receipt). I am told that I will get a text message when I can come and collect my passport, they don't deliver. Also a phone number if I should have any queries, the same one I couldn't get through on yesterday. After querying the number she tells me that they only have one number and it rings the whole day. I've completed my application, now I only have to wait 5-6 weeks.

October 18, 13h56
I receive an sms telling me my passport is ready for collection at the Malmesbury Branch!

October 26, 7h45
I drive to Malmesbury to collect my passport. After waiting about 5 minutes , I sign for my passport and leave. Thirty-four days after my application my passport was ready. Do I have reason to complain? I guess not. Apart from the fact that the phones are never answered, I have to admit that the whole process was rather simple and straightforward. Waiting only 34 day is awesome. I know many people have had bad experiences with the Dept of Home Affairs, even myself with a birth certificate, but after this application I have to admit I was not only surprized, but feeling a bit ashamed for always expecting the worse.


  1. Enter your comment...My sister grandchild is in Angola without her mothers permission. the father ask her 6 years ago to take the child only to visit his mother, but now its 5 years ago.
    can anyone advise me what to do please.
    my cell no. 0837472743
    email: huishagar2@gmail.com

  2. You need not be ashamed because this is my actual experience at the bellville office and I am going back to stand in the Q because they ommitted to tell me that I needed a letter from DOHA when amending you first name, to crown it all I must pay for the letter and wait 4 - 6 weeks for the letter.

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