Answer to a question from a reader

How can you get a late registration of birth certificate and ID if you are an orphan with no family?

The short answer

You need to find some proof that you were born in South Africa and that at least one of your parents was South African.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My friend does not have a birth certificate, so he cannot get an ID. He has no parents or family to vouch for him, and the school that he went to says all the records got destroyed when they rebuilt. He wants to get married, so what can he do?

The long answer

Does your friend have any documents at all about his birth – a clinic card? The name of the clinic? The year? And any documents about the death of his parents? Did he have a guardian or foster parent that brought him up? The name of his school? He should try to find whatever he can by way of documents to prove that he was born in South Africa and that at least one of his parents was South African, as that would prove that he is South African and is entitled to an ID.

Because he will need a birth certificate to apply for an ID, he should apply for a birth certificate in late registration of birth. It is a long and difficult process, especially as his parents are no longer alive. As he is older than 15 years, he would need to provide the following documents to Home Affairs (DHA):

  • Application for an ID (Form B1-9);

  • Completed Forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 for the registration of birth;

  • Supporting documentation like proof of birth, clinic card, etc., as well as written reasons why the birth was not registered within 30 days of birth;

  • Fingerprints of parents or adoptive parents;

  • His biometrics (fingerprints);

  • Certified copies of parents’ IDs;

  • Death certificates for his parents;

  • Certified copy of ID of next of kin;

  • Proof of residence.

Obviously, he won’t have all these documents, but he must scrape together whatever documentary proof of his existence he has, and his application must still be accepted and considered by Home Affairs in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA). This Act says that everyone in South Africa is entitled to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. 

As Home Affairs is a notoriously difficult organisation to deal with, it would probably be a good idea for him to start off by asking advice from one of the following organisations:


Helpline: 072 663 3739


Tel: 021 465 6433. He can also call the Legal Support Hotline on 066 076 8845. To get in touch with their Advocacy Programme, he can call 0782603536 or send a please-call. This is operational between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.


Tel:  Musina: 015 534 220, 

Durban: 031 301 0531 

Pretoria: 012 202943

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831

Cape Town: 021 481 3000

Wishing you the best,

Answered on June 10, 2022, 3:43 p.m.

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