Home Affairs Outsources Passport Services for South Africans in the UK
Home Affairs Outsources Passport Services for South Africans in the UK. Photo: iStockPhoto

There’s great news for South Africans in the UK with the announcement that they can now apply for their passports through VFS Global, with immediate effect.

We won’t rehash the nightmare tales of South Africans trying to phone the SA High Commission for weeks on end with no reply (there’s a special time of day to call), and sending emails that felt like they were ignored (in some cases they were if the subject was not exactly correct).

Now, since 1 June, applying for child and adult passports and renewing passports should be a LOT easier. For starters, South Africans in the UK can now arrange to have their application interview in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester or London. Before it was London or nothing.

The DA Abroad, together with the DA in South Africa, and SAPeople have worked tirelessly to request changes to the passport application procedure for South Africans abroad, particularly in the UK. This has included a joint petition which gathered over 20,000 signatures and was delivered by the DA to Parliament for debate.

In response to this announcement, Justin Adams, DA Abroad UK Chairperson, told SAPeople:

“A step in the right direction, and happy to see the pressure may finally be beginning to pay off but there are immediate questions about the processing of these passports, are these going to DHA in SA, what about those who have been waiting months and in some cases years? Will this improve service with regards to other documentation?

“A small baby step but we have a lot of catching up to do and we haven’t even touched on what is happening in other jurisdictions.”

The SA High Commission in London has a message on its website alerting South Africans to the “Important developments” at its Home Affairs Section. Under the heading Important Passport Notice, it says: “We are pleased to inform you that the Department of Home Affairs has outsourced passport services to VFS Global with effect from 01 June 2022. Please book your appointment on the link below:

The new service also means South Africans in the UK will be able to track the progress of their passport applications.

Please Note: An Emergency Travel Certificate can still only be applied for at the High Commission.

The following services will still be rendered at the High Commission by appointment:

  1. Notice of birth/ birth registration
  2. 1st ID book and ID book replacement (Smart ID Cards are only issued in South Africa)
  3. 1st Adult passport i.e. 15 1/2 year olds who have never been issued with an ID book/Smart Card.
  4. Amendments i.e. Change of forenames / Change of Surname (NOT due to marriage or divorce)
  5. Emergency Travel Certificate
  6. Death registration
  7. Consent for minor passport applications (For parents in different countries)

The following services are rendered strictly by post:

  1. Retention of South African citizenship.
  2. Renunciation of South African citizenship.
  3. Determination of citizenship status