Note: This post will probably not interest you if you're not from South Africa :p
The Department of Home Affairs recently launched their online portal that enables applying for the new ID cards (replacing the old green books). In conjunction with support from the 4 major SA banks, the process is supposed to be quite streamlined. Its currently limited to people within the age range of 30-35, which I happen to be. I've always been a bit of an early adopter, so I thought I'd give the process a try.
Surprisingly it worked pretty well. You'll know why this is a surprise if you're South African and have ever had to deal with Home Affairs.
The website worked perfectly (though I hear there were some load issues shortly after launch) and I was able to complete the form within a few minutes.
One small gripe is that the logon process is quite laborious:
- Enter ID number and submit page
- Enter your password and CAPTCHA and submit
- Wait for an OTP via SMS and submit
I get that security is important, and I wouldn't mind the process if the session length wasn't so short. Not sure what it is, but I found it timing out a few times while I looked something up elsewhere during the application process.
I hit a bit of a snag when it came to paying (R140) though. After entering my account details, I was told to authorize the payment on FNB's internet banking. The problem was, I couldn't find anywhere to authorize it. This is an FNB issue though, not Home Affairs.
FNB's Twitter guy (@rbjacobs) couldn't even help. I did eventually find it under "Pay => eFiling", duh why didn't I think to look there originally :)
Once the payment was authorized, I was able to make an appointment at an FNB branch (the one in the building that I work happened to support the new process). The appointment was for capturing a photo, finger prints and my signature. I captured the application on the weekend and was able to get an appointment for the following Monday. There also appeared to be many slots open, not sure if it will be so easy to get an immediate appointment once they roll-out to the whole country.
I've just come back from the appointment now, took 5 minutes to capture what they needed. The process was painless, I did have to wait about 10 minutes due to not all the Home Affairs staff being there (something about the IEC and registration weekend).
Now I wait 10 working days for the card, will update once I get it.
Overall, I'm very impressed with the process. It would be great if all government processes were this efficient, here's hoping.
Update 1 (2016/04/11): Since I posted this a few colleagues have also tried to apply, their experiences were not quite a smooth:
- If you accidentally select "New ID", instead of "Re-Issue", you can't change it later, you will need to restart the application.
- The appointment confirmation emails seem to take a while to come through sometimes
- Something I experienced as well, the confirmation PDF can't be read in Chrome, you will need to download it and open it in Adobe Reader. This is a similar issue with the PDFs issued by SARS.
Update 2 (2016/04/14): Looks like I'm one of 140 successful applicants to go through the whole process according to this article. They also claim that appointments are booked up until the end of April, so seems like there may be a bit of a wait for new people applying, glad I got in there early.
Update 3 (2016/04/04): Initially, I couldn't find a list of bank branches where you could make appointments, now htxt.co.za has published a list. If I understand correctly, you can also make appointments at Home Affairs branches, but who wants to do that :p
- Bank City / FNB Towers
- Merchant Place (RMB head office in Sandton)
- Centurion Lifestyle Centre
- Menlyn Square
- Absa Towers (in JHB Town)
- Centurion Lifestyle Centre
- Ghandi Square
- Standard Bank
- Standard Bank HQ in Town
- Canal Walk (only branch among all he bank in Cape Town)
- Constantia Kloof
(See the original story for address details)
Update 4 (2016/04/18): I received an SMS on Friday to collect, that's about 5 business days after applying. I went in this morning and collected, took me 10 minutes with 2 people in the collection queue in front of me.
Overall, this has been an excellent experience, definitely not expected from a SA Government department.
Update 5 (2016/05/20): Home affairs has now opened the process up to 25-40 year olds, looks like the pilot is going well