Answer to a question from a reader

Is it possible to apply for an ID for the first time without a parent?

The short answer

It may be possible if you can get a certified copy of their ID.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I have an abusive mother who drinks and gambles a lot. Since I was 16, I have been begging her to go with me to Home Affairs to get my ID, but to no avail. I am 18 years old and still without an ID. 

A lot of opportunities are passing me by because of this. There is nothing you can do in South Africa without a valid ID. Would it be possible for me to get my ID without my mother?

The long answer

It’s not completely clear if the rule that at least one of your parents should accompany you is enforced everywhere in South Africa. For example, the Western Cape government website says you have to be accompanied by your parents or at least one of your parents for a first-time ID application. But the Home Affairs website itself does not mention the rule that you must be accompanied by a parent or parents, and nor does a News24 article about a first-time application. What they all do seem to agree on is that you have to have a certified copy of your parent’s ID.

If it is possible for your father to accompany you instead of your mother, he would need to bring a certified copy of his ID.

As you are 18 now, which is the age of majority – in other words, you are now an adult – you could certainly try to apply for your ID without your mother accompanying you, but you would still need a certified copy of her ID.

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 in Botlokwa 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 they say at Home Affairs that you must be accompanied by your mother, perhaps you could explain the difficulties you have had in getting your mother to accompany you. If they do not assist you, you could contact one of the following organisations that have a lot of experience dealing with Home Affairs and ask them for assistance:

Legal Resources Centre
Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831  

Lawyers for Human Rights
Johannesburg Office and law clinic
Tel: 011 339 1960

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Aug. 18, 2021, 7:45 p.m.

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