The new smart ID cards will start being issued in the new year, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said on Thursday.
“The pilot [programme] was a success and in the new year we will make an announcement on the implementation of the smart ID card project,” she said.
The cost of the card had not yet been determined.
Pandor said the cost would not exceed that of the current green bar-coded identity document, which the card would replace.
“The security features and the cost are still being discussed.”
A microchip, the specifications for which cannot be disclosed for security reasons, will house the necessary biometric data and the information on the chip will be laser-engraved to prevent tampering.
She said a range of physical and data-security features was being considered, and that there was also ongoing discussion about whether to include provision for a pin code as a secondary means of verification, to complement the biometric features of the card.
The minister said the department was discussing how to implement the process. One option would be to issue smart ID cards to first applicants. The project was likely to be implemented over the next four years.
Pandor, who was appointed in October this year, said she had familiarised herself with department’s programmes and plans.
“I have visited several passport offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town. I was impressed with what I saw and heard.
“The DHA [department of home affairs] has made progress. I am satisfied that plans are in place to improve efficiency through digital innovation, so we are able to issue IDs and passports faster than before, and as painlessly as possible.”
She said they would continue with the national population registration campaign aimed at registering children within 30 days of birth, and to issue all 16-year-olds with IDs.
“We will continue to do everything in our power to popularise the campaign. It is illegal not to register. In the near future, we will be introducing penalties for failure to register.”
She said she would visit hospitals in Cape Town on New Year’s Day to issue birth certificates to mothers of the first babies born in 2013.
Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan would visit maternity hospitals in Johannesburg to also issue birth certificates to mothers of the first babies born in 2013.
She said from 2013 the department would only issue unabridged certificates.
The unabridged certificate would be issued free of charge to all first time applicants.