In the Republic of South Africa, every citizen must apply for an Identity Document from the age of 16 years. The ID number is already allocated at the time the birth certificate is generated and required for child passport applications. This passport-size document contains only 8 pages - the first page containing the national identification number (also in barcoded format), name of bearer, district or country of birth, as well as a photograph of the bearer. The other pages are used for recording of voting participation, a page for driver's license information (although it is no longer used since the introduction of plastic card type licenses), as well as pages for fire arms licenses (also plastic card type now). The document is required to apply for a passport, car learner's license (over 17), motorcycle learner's license (over 16), driving license (over 18), motorcycle license (over 16 or 18 depending on cc) and to vote (over 18). The Identity Document is not used for international travel purposes (a separate passport is issued) but usually is acceptable photographic identification for internal flights, and mainly serves as proof of identification. Some authorities may accept the driver's license as proof of identity, but the Identity Document is the only universally accepted form of identification.
A South African person identification number is a 13-digit number containing only numeric characters, and no whitespace, punctuation, or alpha characters. It is defined as YYMMDDSSSSCAZ:
Using ID Number 8001015009087 as an example, it would read as follows: The ID indicates that a male citizen was born on 1 January 1980; he was the 10th male to be registered (assuming that the first male to be registered on that day would be assigned the sequence number 5000). The checksum digit is calculated using the Luhn algorithm:
In contrast to other countries the South African ID number is not unique in its current form, at least because of the use of a two-digit year. Other issues with duplications exist:,however the Department of Home Affairs HANIS Project has planned to rectify that with ID smart cards. The timeline for that is undetermined as the last budget request for 08/09 and 09/10 included requests for budget for it despite the project being active since 1997.
South African citizens aged 15 years and 6 months or older are eligible for an ID book. The South African identity document resembles a passport; however, it is not valid as a travel document or valid for use outside South Africa. Although carrying the document is not required in daily life, it is necessary to show the document or a certified copy as proof of identity when:
The South African "ID Book" used to also contain driving and firearm licences; however, these documents are now issued separately in card format. In mid 2013 a smart card ID was launched to replace the ID book. The cards were launched on 18 July 2013 when a number of dignitaries received the first cards at a ceremony in Pretoria. The government plans to have the ID books phased out over a six to eight-year period. The South African government is looking into possibly using this smart card not just as an identification card but also for licences, National Health Insurance, and social grants.
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