The long-awaited smart identity document (ID) card will be issued to South Africans from July.
Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor made the announcement during her department’s budget vote in Cape Town recently.
She said the smart card IDs would first be issued to all first-time ID and re-issue applicants.
The smart cards will initially be introduced at 27 Home Affairs offices across the country - three offices in each province.
This is part of the process of the department moving towards a “paperless environment”.
The new smart ID card will have a microchip, the specifications for which cannot be disclosed for security reasons. The chip will house the necessary biometric data unique to every individual. The information on the chip will be laser-engraved to prevent tampering.
“It is a contactless card containing a microchip embedded with biometric security features. It has a life span of at least 10 years,” said Minister Pandor.
The smart cards aim to cut down on the fraudulent use of fake or stolen IDs. The Minister added that the new cards would be almost impossible to forge.
The cost of the smart ID card will be the same as the amount paid for the green bar-coded ID, which currently costs about R140. IDs are free for first time applicants.
She added that it would take about three days for an applicant to receive the smart card.
“Over the next three years, we will install live capture in all our offices. This will enable the department to issue smart ID cards to all South African citizens over the next five to seven years and to finally get rid of the green ID book.”
People in possession of the new IDs will be able to use them for next year’s general elections.
Minister Pandor said it would take the department seven to eight years to do away with the old IDs.