Answer to a question from a reader

What can I do with a birth certificate that has no ID number?

The short answer

Children born to two non-South Africans and do not qualify for citizenship are entitled to a birth certificate but it will have no ID number.

The long answer

Let’s assume the birth certificate does have the information of both parents, but no ID number.

If your parents were South African, you should have been given an ID number. The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town says that children born to two non-South Africans and who do not qualify for citizenship are entitled to a birth certificate according to the Births and Deaths Registration Act. But in those cases, children are given birth certificates that do not include an ID number and the child is not entered into the National Population Register.

The South African Citizenship Act of 1995 was amended in 2010 and the amended version came into operation on 1 January 2013. It means that children of permanent residents born after October 2014 no longer qualify for automatic citizenship or permanent residency. Those children will need a visa from Home Affairs before applying for citizenship after they are 18 years old and have lived here all their lives.

But if you were born in South Africa before 2014, you still automatically qualify for citizenship provided you have not lived anywhere but South Africa, and if your birth has been registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1992. In that case, you can apply for South African citizenship when you are 18.

That is when you would use the B1-9 form to apply for your ID. A person applying for the first time is supposed to be accompanied by at least one parent or legal guardian. These are the other documents you would need:

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

  • A certified copy of your birth certificate  

  • A certified copy of one of your parents’ IDs

  • 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. 

  • Proof of your address like a municipal bill

The Department of Home Affairs has a specific hotline for enquiries about birth certificates and also a dedicated email address:

If you need some advice on how to proceed, you could contact the Black Sash which gives free paralegal advice:

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Sept. 5, 2023, 1:02 p.m.

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