Answer to a question from a reader

Where can I do a DNA test for my South African ID application?

The short answer

You can get genetic testing done through the NHLS or a prvate company.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

My mother is from Lesotho and my late father was South African. I want to apply for an ID but Home Affairs says I need to do a DNA test. Where can I have this done?

The long answer

You don’t say whether you were born in South Africa or in Lesotho. What the law currently says is that if you were born outside South Africa, one of your parents was South African and the birth was registered, you should be able to claim South African citizenship by descent. 

CDH Incorporated explains that citizenship in South African is either obtained by birth, descent, or naturalization, and that the basic principle of South African citizenship is that a child follows the citizenship or nationality of his or her parents. 

If one or both of your parents was South African, you should be able to claim citizenship by birth. In your case, your late father was South African. But you will need a birth certificate to apply for citizenship. 

Any birth that has not been registered with Home Affairs and noted in the Births and Deaths Register within 30 days will have to be registered as a late birth registration. Applying for a birth certificate in late registration of birth (LRB) is often a long and difficult process and involves an interview with Home Affairs. It can take a long time to get your appointment for the late birth registration interview because there is a very large backlog of applications. You would need to provide the following documents:

  • DHA 24/LRB (notice of birth);

  • Children born at health facilities: DHA 24/PB (Proof of birth) OR for children born at home: DHA 24PBA (Proof of Birth Affidavit);

  • DHA 288/A (Affidavit giving reasons for LRB);

  • DHA 288;

  • Biometrics (ID-size photo and fingerprint) of the person to be registered;

  • Fingerprints of parent/s;

  • ID/Passport of parent/s.

Even though you may not be able to produce all these documents, your application must still be accepted and considered by Home Affairs according to the 2018 judgment in the Naki case in the Eastern Cape High Court. This court ruled that the Births and Deaths Registration Act should be read to mean that both parents’ documents must be presented “where possible”.

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

In terms of the DNA test, every person gets half their DNA from their mother and half from their father. As your father has died, are there any other children – your half-siblings? A sibling DNA test can establish whether brothers and sisters – half-siblings – share the same mother and father, or share either a biological mother or father. In your case, the DNA tests can show whether there is a shared biological father. 

If there are no half-siblings, did your late father have a brother or sister? A DNA test of a brother or sister can also show that you share half your genes with your late father.

Whether it is a sibling or an aunt or uncle, there would have to be a DNA test of both you and of a sibling, or an aunt or uncle. By testing both of you, it can be proved that your late father contributed half your DNA.

Every person taking a DNA test has to give written consent to the test. If you are under 18 years of age, your mother would have to give written permission for you to take the DNA test.

Where to get a DNA test:

You can have a test done through the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). There are a few sampling centres around the country and you can check where your nearest one is on the NHLS website.

According to the Mobieg website, “The cost is around R1,200 per person. This means that if you are testing yourself plus someone else, you will be charged roughly R2,400.”

The firms that offer DNA testing make a distinction between testing for your own peace of mind and legal testing. 

GENEdiagnostics, one of the companies offering DNA testing, says that “Legal tests are acceptable to South African courts. Legal tests are required for any court purpose, Department of Home Affairs birth registration and amendment, or any other legal matter.” 

These are their charges:

  • R1,932 per person for a LEGAL kinship test.

  • A minimum deposit of 50% is payable upfront for all tests

  • The price quoted includes VAT and the costs of the kit.

  • Payment is required before sending you the test kit or arranging an appointment with one of the selected Clicks Clinics we work with nationally.

This is a Cape-Town based company and these are their contact details:

An article on DNA test prices by Money Today says that DNA testing for legal purposes costs about R4,700. Importantly, they also say that “They are usually done using a chain of custody in conjunction with the department or agency that requires the tests to be done. Failure to meet this requirement may make the test inadmissible to the department or agency.” 

Legal DNA Testing says that the chain of custody “… is simply put, a sample collection procedure that must follow certain steps. The procedure will ensure the integrity of the results, that no mistakes are made in the sample collection and that the results reflect the true relationship between alleged father and child.”

These are the steps given by EasyDNA

  1. Ordering the DNA sample kit which will cost R4,795. Once they have processed the order they will send a kit with the submission, forms, sampling kit and sampling instructions.

  2. They say it is essential for a neutral third party – doctor, nurse or any medical professional – to collect the sample. That person (the sampler) not only collects the samples but acts as a witness and makes sure that every step in the chain of custody is followed. The sampler verifies the identities of the parties being tested and does the paperwork. EasyDNA adds that fees paid to the samplers must be paid by the people being tested.

  3. EasyDNA will send the sample collection kit to the sampler’s practice. Once they have received the sample collection kit, the sampler will make the appointment.

  4. They say you need to take two passport-sized photos and for each person tested, an ID document (or passport) You need to take the original plus two photocopies. The sampler must sign the passport photos stating that the people in the photographs are the ones providing the DNA samples for the test.  

  5. The samples are collected by using oral swabs which are rubbed inside the mouth for one minute and then left to dry. Then the sampler will close and label each sample and they will be sent immediately to the laboratory in the envelopes provided.

So, whatever company you end up using would have to meet the DHA’s chain of custody requirements, and it is something you would need to make sure about with the company from the start.

Home Affairs says that to book an appointment, you should visit  and click on BABS (Branch Appointment Booking System).

If you run into difficulties with Home Affairs, you could consult one of the following organisations that have a lot of experience in dealing with Home Affairs:

Lawyers for Human Rights


Musina: 015 534 2203

Durban: 031 301 0531 

Pretoria: 012 3202943 

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

Legal Resources Centre


Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831

Cape Town: 021 481 3000.

The Black Sash


Helpline: 072 66 33 73

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Feb. 29, 2024, 9:05 p.m.

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