LGBTQIA+ Changing Your Name and Gender at Home Affairs

LGBTQIA+ Changing Your Name and Gender at Home Affairs

South Africa is on the forefront of protecting your rights as part of the LGBTQIA+ community. If you are listed with a gender that you no longer identify with, you are able to get the gender on your birth certificate and ID book/number changed. This procedure can also be paired with the change of your first name (and in rare occasions, your surname), if your first name no longer represents who you identify as. 

The gender marker that is currently listed on your birth certificate, as well as on your Smart ID Card/ID book may be changed under South African law if you are transgender. The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) must assist you with changing your forename in conformity with the law in terms of the Alteration of Sex Description and Sex Status Act. A name change would be done in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act. 

It is advisable to do these applications one at a time, instead of together. Putting both applications in at the same time can cause delays with the processing of the paperwork and confusion for the Department. Each of these processes will take between 6-8 months. 

In South Africa, gender is still expressed as either male (M) or female (F). As a result, intersex individuals experience immediate discrimination and parents are compelled to indicate a binary gender of either male or female. On the South African population registry, a gender marker will be known as Sex and used on birth certificates, smart ID cards, and passports. The cost for the various changes are available from DHA directly or on their website. Costs may change overtime, so it’s advisable to verify the charges before going to the DHA offices.

Changing your Gender Marker: 

You are going to need to take the following documentation with you in order to change your gender on your South African identity book:

  • Your current Smart Card ID (or ID book);
  • Your unabridged birth certificate; 
  • 2x letters from 2x doctors confirming that you have undergone hormonal treatment therapy to switch genders medically; 
  • Home Affairs Officials require you to fill in the forms in person in the office and home printed versions of the documents are often not acceptable.
  • A divorce order if Home Affairs still has you married under the Marriage Act of 1961.
  • R70 (cash and exact change) for gender marker change (this excludes cost for a reissue of ID and passport)
  • 2 colour ID Photos (although Smart ID doesn’t need photos, this process currently still does) – this is for each process
  • BI 526 – Application for An Amendment
  • On this form you indicate which of the particulars are incorrect, in this case your gender and you are applying to have it amended.
  • BI 9 – Application for Identity Card (though this is redundant with the electronic Smart ID process) go with this.
  • BI 24 – Notice of Birth (Twice)
  • TAKE NOTE OF THIS: the form needs to be completed twice, i.e. 2 forms.
  • On the first form WRITE IN BOLD on the top of the form OLD and use your current gender, i.e. the gender you were assigned at birth.
  • On the second form WRITE IN BOLD on the top of the form NEW and complete as your identified gender.
  • The forenames will be the current names as per your current identity.
  • BI-9 – Proof of identity – this form is used to provide the department with full set of finger and palm prints including photo. 

Changing your Forename: 

You can change your forename, even if you do not want to change your identity marker/gender on your ID card. In order to do this, you need the following documentation: 

  • R140 for forename change (this excludes cost for a reissue of ID and passport)
  • BI-85 – Forename change
  • BI 526, BI 9 and BI 24 as above for the gender marker change.
  • 2 colour ID Photos (although Smart ID doesn’t need photos, this process currently still does) – this is for each process
  • BI-9 – Proof of identity – this form is used to provide the department with full set of finger and palm prints including photo.  
  • Take a photo with your phone of all the documents especially after they have been stamped.

How long does it take?

Each of these processes will take around 6-9 months to complete, and cannot be done simultaneously. In order to confirm that the process has been completed,  you will need to follow-up with the Department of Home Affairs to ensure that the process has been completed, as they do not have an automatic system to notify you of the changes. 

What to do once the gender marker and/or forename changed

  • Once your application is completed with the changes you’ve made, the DHA office to apply for an ID and passport. It is recommended to book online before an appointment at a Home Affairs Branch.
  • Note as you require a Birth Certificate it is advised to avoid applying for an ID/passport at a bank, though some have managed, this often results in delays and issues.
  • Before you complete the ID application process, you need to get a print-out of your birth certificate with the new details on (i.e. name and/or new ID number). This is the abridged birth certificate and costs R20.
  • Once you have received your new ID smart card, you can proceed to do an application for confirmation of change letter. This is the only document which links your previous ID with the new ID. You need this letter to make any changes with any institution such as banks and educational institutions etc. This letter is R90 per change (gender marker and name change may be charged separately).
  • The cost of a Smart ID Card is R140. You don’t need to have photo taken anymore. They will take photos and finger prints electronically. The charge of the first Smart ID Card to minors reaching 16 years of age is free.
  • Application for a new passport will cost R600 if you take your old passport with you or for first time applicants.
  • You can apply for a temporary ID if required. Additional photos are needed, with additional costs applying.
  • The Smart ID card and passport (if applied for) are normally issued within a week or two.
  • You could apply for unabridged birth certificate which takes a period of time.

The following all need to be changed or amended:

  • Drivers Licence 
  • Bank Account
  • Qualifications
  • Policies like retirement funds insurance (be it short term or life type policies) and other policies you may have – new underwriting rules may apply
  • Remarry your partner and remember to redo contracts like ante nuptial contracts
  • Change your gender marker and name with your medical aid
  • Sometimes it is easier to open a new account and close the old. The old name always seems to sneak into something in the future.
  • Last Will and Testament.
  • Firearm licences
  • Vehicle registrations, bond registrations etc
  • Register as a voter – it is very likely you’re new identity is not on the voters role

JLIA can provide you legal advice and can guide you through the steps needed to legally change your name and gender marker, as well as help you figure out in what order each step should be done to best meet your needs. Contact us today on 0212010535 or pop us an email to