|South African passport
10 other official names
|1 April 2009 (current version)
|South African citizenship
|10 years after acquisition for adults, 5 years for children
|R600 (32page) / R1200 (48page)
A South African passport (Also commonly referred to as the 'Green Mamba' or the 'Biltong Book' by South Africans) is a travel document issued to citizens of South Africa for the purpose of international travel. It allows the bearer to travel in foreign countries in accordance with visa requirements, and facilitates the process of securing assistance from South African consular officials abroad, if necessary. A South African passport is a valid proof of citizenship document according to South African nationality law. As of February 2024[update], citizens of South Africa enjoyed visa-free access to 108 countries, of which some may require pre-travel registration according to the Visa Restrictions Index.
South African passports are issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs, in terms of the South African Passport and Travel Documents Act (Act 4 of 1994), and the South African Passport and Travel Documents Regulations of 1996.
There are six types of South African passports:
South African passports are green in colour, with the South African coat of arms emblazoned in gold in the centre of the front cover. "REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA", French: "RÉPUBLIQUE D'AFRIQUE DU SUD" are inscribed in gold text above and below the coat of arms respectively. "PASSPORT", French: "PASSEPORT" are inscribed in gold text near the bottom of the front cover. The back cover is left blank.
Beginning in 2009, passports were issued with the new post-2000 South African coat of arms. Additionally, visa pages now contain pictures of the Lion, Buffalo, Leopard, Elephant, and Rhinoceros – the Big Five animals of Southern Africa.
The passport note occupies the first page of the passport, and the particulars page occupies the last. The identity information page is printed on the inside of the passport's back cover, opposite the particulars page.
The front cover, passport note, particulars page, and identity information page are printed in both English and French. Until 1994, they were also printed in Afrikaans.
Passports contain a note from the issuing state, addressed to the authorities of all other states, identifying the bearer as a citizen of that state and requesting that they be allowed to pass and be treated according to international norms. The note inside the South African passport states:
and in French:
On the particulars page, the bearer is instructed to fill in their address of permanent residence and other contact information, and the name, address, and contact information of someone to notify in case of accident or death abroad.
The following data are printed on the identity information page, located on the inside of the passport's back cover:
A machine-readable zone is found at the bottom of the identity information page.
The Department of Home Affairs began issuing new format passports on 9 April 2009. These passports are not biometric but do contain sophisticated security features such as a seven-layer polycarbonate page where personal details and a photograph are laser engraved. Various other security features have been used to bring the passport into line with International Civil Aviation Organization requirements.
Main article: Visa requirements for South African citizens
Visa requirements for South African citizens are administrative entry restrictions by the authorities of other states placed on citizens of South Africa. In 2019, South African citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 100 countries and territories, ranking the South African passport 51st in the world (tied with Belize) according to the Henley visa restrictions index.
Until more modern and digital methods were introduced, to apply for a South African passport, one had to fill in application form BI-73, and bring the appropriate-sized photographs to ensure correct identity. Nowadays, photographs are captured onsite, as well as other biometrics.
South African passports are issued at any home affairs office in South Africa but all are printed in the executive capital, Pretoria.
According to the South African Citizenship Act (Act 88 of 1995) as amended by the South African Citizenship Amendment Act (Act 17 of 2004), South Africans may hold dual citizenship, but may not use their citizenship of another country to gain advantage or avoid responsibility while in South Africa.
It is also illegal for an adult who holds South African citizenship to enter or depart South Africa using a non-South African passport. Dual nationals using a non-South African passport to enter/exit South Africa may be turned away from border checkpoints and could be fined or imprisoned for up to 12 months. However, the use of their non-South African passport is permitted to enter/exit any country other than South Africa.