Answer to a question from a reader

Can I get a South African ID if my mother was Zimbabwean but I have a South African birth certificate?

The short answer

Yes, if Home Affairs accepts the ID number on your birth certificate.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My mother was a Zimbabwean, but I was born in South Africa and I have a South African birth certificate with an ID number. My mother passed away 18 years ago when I was just two years old and all of her documents were taken back to Zimbabwe, including her non-citizen South African ID and death certificate. I have not been able to apply for my own ID or write matric. My half-sister recently helped me get my mother's death certificate and ID back from Zimbabwe. How can I apply for my own ID so that I can go back to school?

The long answer

Since you have got a South African birth certificate with an ID number, it seems that you are regarded as a South African, even though your mother was Zimbabwean, but she had some kind of non-citizen permit. Perhaps she had permanent residence? Or perhaps your father was South African? 

These are the documents you need to submit to Home Affairs to get your ID:

  • Form BI-9, completed in black ink. These forms are available at Home Affairs;

  • A certified copy of your birth certificate;

  • Two identical, colour ID photographs (Note: Not needed at smartcard offices as ID images are captured digitally, however colour photographs are still needed for temporary IDs). 

Your fingerprints will be taken by a Home Affairs official and imprinted on Form DHA-9. 

You are supposed to be accompanied by parents or a legal guardian who must show their IDs when you are applying for your ID for the first time, but if you don’t have a legal guardian, your mother’s death certificate should be sufficient to explain your situation. 

If your mother had permanent residence, you would be entitled to apply for citizenship on the basis of naturalisation. A naturalised citizen is a person born in South Africa to foreign parents who are legal residents, and has lived in South Africa all her life until she reached the age of majority – 18 years.

You should take a certified copy of your birth certificate and of your mother’s death certificate and the forms mentioned above to the nearest office of Home Affairs and tell them you need to apply for an ID to go back to school. Ask them for their assistance. If they accept the ID on your birth certificate, it should be straightforward enough. 

If they don’t accept the ID on your birth certificate, you should ask them to explain how to apply for citizenship by naturalisation. If they say you need permanent residence first, ask them to assist you.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on April 12, 2022, 11:29 a.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.