The Panda Explains What Your SA ID Number Means

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For South Africans, our ID Documents are important. In most instances, we can’t perform certain tasks without it.

In South Africa, you celebrate having your ID when you finally hit 18 because now you can put it to good use and show that bouncer at the club that you can get in (for some of us, that feeling is fresher than for others).

Our Barcoded ID Documents are there to identify more than just our date of birth, it's a code that is used to identify many more aspects of our lives. It 's what could be called a “password”. When in the right hand's someone can identify the paths we have taken in our lives.

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Here is a breakdown of what these digits mean when put together in what we call an “ID Number”:

  • The first 6 digits are what many people already know. In order of – YY.MM.DD – Birthdate. So for example, if the first 6 digits are 960823, it would mean the person holding this ID was born on August 23rd
  • The next four digits wouldn’t mean anything to someone who hasn’t looked into this meaning. Numbers that have no significance except the fact that they are gender indicators. These number sets are different for males and females.
  • Females are logged in the number group ranging from 0000 – 4999.
  • Males are logged in the set above this ranging from 5000 – 9999.
  • The next single digit is there to identify your citizenship. If you are a South African citizen this number would be indicated as 0. If you are a permanent resident, this number would be 1.
  • Before the 1980s the next digit was used to indicate race, however, this was eradicated and old Identification numbers that were issued before then have been changed to have this number removed.
  • The last digit is there as a checksum digit or error detection code. This is used to check that all numbers before it are accurate and correct.

The basic ID Number format without data inserted is: YY-MM-DD—SSSS-C-A-Z

what does your SA ID number mean

Since 2013, the green barcoded booklet we have grown accustomed to having is becoming obsolete. By 2022 the South African government is insisting that every person living in South Africa must have the new smart card ID.

This is an attempt to heighten identity security and diminish fraud and tampering. These new cards have chips embedded in them that have biographic data on, making it verifiable and readable on systems, making it much harder to manipulate and forge. Applying for this new smart card can easily be done at any of the major banks and home affairs offices.
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