Dealing with Home Affairs’ online system in 2020 is not smooth sailing, but getting my photos and fingerprints taken at a bank branch was a pleasure.
This was the main takeaway from my recent Smart ID card application through eHomeAffairs and Standard Bank.
Home Affairs officially launched its eHomeAffairs portal and Smart ID card online booking system on 1 April 2016.
This system allows citizens to submit applications for their Smart ID and passport through the eHomeAffairs website, upload supporting documents, pay their application fees, and schedule branch visits.
Once your application is submitted, you will need to visit a Home Affairs branch or a supported bank branch to submit your fingerprints and have your photograph taken.
The department will then send you an SMS when your smart ID is ready for collection.
The list of supported bank branches has been expanded greatly since the launch of the service four years ago, and 19 new locations are being added in the coming months.
For this article, I registered on the eHomeAffairs portal and applied for a new Smart ID card to test the performance of the service in 2020.
I first attempted to access the eHomeAffairs website on 25 February and sign up for an account – but the website was down.
This had been the case since 22 February, and the downtime prevented me from making any progress on my application that day.
On 26 February, however, the website was back up and working perfectly.
I signed up for an account by creating a username and password, which were secured by a pair of security questions and a one-time PIN sent to my smartphone every time I logged in.
Creating an application was simple, and it only took a few seconds to fill out the online form for a Smart ID card – before I was required to make payment.
You can make the required payment of R140 to Home Affairs when you visit the selected branch to register your biometrics, or you can choose to pay via online banking.
I chose the latter, which I completed via an EFT. I then printed out the proof of payment for when I visited the branch during my selected booking time.
On the morning of my booking date – 3 March – I opened the eHomeAffairs portal to double-check my booking details, but the platform was once again down.
Upon checking the Home Affairs website, I discovered that the system had been offline since 28 February.
Despite the warning of online service interruptions, I visited my selected bank branch – Standard Bank Centurion.
Upon entering the bank, I was directed from the main reception queue to a separate Home Affairs reception area.
I was promptly given a ticket number and told wait until my number was called. This happened sooner than I expected.
Within 10 minutes, I had been called up to have my biometrics taken.
I presented my proof of payment and my old ID book to the Home Affairs official, placed my fingerprints as directed on the electronic reader, and had my photo taken in record time.
The entire exercise took just over five minutes, and I was told I would receive notification that my Smart ID card was ready for collection via SMS.
As I was walking out of the building, I received SMS and email notifications that my application had been submitted and processed.
I checked the eHomeAffairs portal and saw that it was back online, allowing me to confirm that my application had been received.
The entire process of visiting the Home Affairs office at the bank branch and registering my biometrics took just over 15 minutes and was refreshingly painless compared to visiting a standard Home Affairs branch.
All that is left now is for me to wait the requisite two weeks before collecting my new Smart ID card from the same branch.