Answer to a question from a reader

Can I apply for an ID if my parent's ID is blocked?

The short answer

If there is no other available parental ID but the blocked one, it could take a very long time for Home Affairs to resolve the problem.

The long answer

The nearest direct answer to your question that I have been able to find is from a 2020 presentation to Parliament by Lawyers for Human Rights and Scalabrini, which says: 

“Children whose parents’ IDs have been blocked by the DHA are at risk of statelessness as they will not be able to access birth registration or obtain their own IDs once they turn 16 years old without their parents’ documentation.”

If you were born here, and at least one of your parents is South African, and your birth has been registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, you are entitled to citizenship, which means you are entitled to an ID. But even if you are 18 years old (in other words, an adult) and you do not have to be accompanied by your parents to apply for an ID, you would still have to produce a certified copy of at least one of your parents’ IDs.

You also need a certified copy of your birth certificate and proof of your residential address. You have to fill in Form BI-9, which you can get at Home Affairs, in black ink. You also need two identical colour photos, but if the office where you apply is a smart card office, you don’t need the photos as they will capture your image digitally. You can find out if you need photos or not by emailing or phoning your local Home Affairs office.

If there is no other available parental ID but the blocked one, it could take a very long time for Home Affairs to resolve the problem. In the meantime, your life, and that of your parent, is placed on hold.

In 2020, Home Affairs was dealing with close to a million blocked IDs. The reasons for blocking them are that the ID has been duplicated, that it might have been illegally obtained by a foreigner or Home Affairs suspects fraudulent activity or forgery. It may take a number of years for them to resolve the problem.

This delay is apparently because Home Affairs does not have the capacity to deal efficiently with the number of requests they receive to unblock the IDs. The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act (PAJA) requires Home Affairs to notify citizens that their ID is blocked so that the citizen can send the required documents to Home Affairs to clarify, but very often a person only finds out that their ID is blocked when they are unable to open a bank account or apply for a passport. Under PAJA, when Home Affairs receives a request to unblock the ID, they are required to respond within 90 days giving written reasons for the decision, but mostly this does not happen within 90 days. 

The Constitution provides the following protections:

  • In terms of section 20 of the Constitution, no citizen may be deprived of citizenship; 
  • In terms of section 28 of the Constitution, every child has the right to a name and a nationality;
  • In terms of section 33 of the Constitution, everyone has the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair. Anyone who has been affected unfavourably or adversely by administrative action has the right to written reasons for the administrative action. In this case, the administrator is Home Affairs.

The problem is that in terms of these Constitutional rights, it is often necessary for lawyers to take Home Affairs to court to compel them to act in terms of the Constitution.

For that reason, you might want to consult with organisations that have had a lot of experience in dealing with Home Affairs: the Legal Resources Centre and Lawyers for Human Rights.

These are their contact details:

Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831

Cape Town: 021 481 3000.

  • Lawyers for Human Rights


Tel: Musina: 015 534 2203

Durban: 031 301 0531

Pretoria: 012 3202943

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

Wishing you the best,

Answered on June 10, 2022, 3:53 p.m.

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