Cell Phone SIM Cards and RICA

In terms of the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA), the compulsory registration of all SIM cards in use came into effect on 1 July 2009.  The Act requires mobile operators, service providers and sellers to register on secure databases the identities, physical address and cellular phone numbers of new and existing customers who buy SIM cards. All cell phone subscribers, both prepaid and contract, will be required to show proof of identity and to present a utility bill to show proof of residence in order to be registered. Existing subscribers will have 18 months from implementation date to register both their prepaid and contract SIM cards. SIM cards of subscribers that fail to comply with RICA within the specified time period will be deactivated.

The full text of the law is available on the South African Government Information site.

Here are some RICA FAQs:

What is RICA?

RICA is the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act. RICA is the new law from the South African Government that requires everyone to register all new and existing cell phone numbers from 1 July 2009. New SIM cards will only be activated on the cellular networks once registered. Existing cell phone hone numbers that are already active on the cellular networks must be registered within 18 months from the effective date.

Why must you register?

  • RICA is a legal requirement from Government and all customers with cell phone numbers on cellular networks in SA must comply with the law.
  • You can help to make South Africa a safer place, as this law aims to help law enforcement agencies to identify the users of cell phone numbers and track criminals using cell phones for illegal activities.

Which cell phone numbers must be registered?

All contract and prepaid cell phone numbers and data SIM cards must be registered:

  • New cell phone numbers – in order to have your number activated.
  • Existing cell phone numbers – to ensure that your number does not get disconnected and your number lost.

Where do you register?

You can register at most stores where you can buy a starter pack. For more information, contact your cellular network’s Customer Care Centre or visit their website.

What information and documentation do you need to take with you to register?

You are required to register the following information:

  • Cell phone number
  • Full names and surname
  • ID number or passport number. You will need to show one of the following documents as proof of identity: green bar-coded ID document; ID card; temporary ID certificate, or passport.
  • Proof of physical address. You will need to show any document that includes your name and residential address such as a bank statement, municipal rates, cell phone or retail account (not older than three (3) months), existing lease, rental or credit agreement, insurance policy, current TV or motor vehicle licence.
  • If you live in an informal settlement you can provide a letter and/or affidavit from a school, church or retail store where you receive your post (this letter must be on an official letterhead or have the stamp of the school, church or retail store).
  • Registration must be done in person to confirm your identity.

How much will it cost you to register?

RICA is absolutely free.

When must you register?

  • You must register for RICA from 1 July 2009.
  • From this date onwards, all new cell phone numbers will have to be registered to be activated on a cellular network in South Africa.
  • Customers with existing cell phone numbers that are already active on a South African cellular network will have 18 months from the effective date.
  • Existing cell phone numbers that are not registered at the end of this period will be disconnected from the cellular network until they are registered.

What is going to be done with your information?

All information will be kept confidential in a secure data base and cannot be used for any purpose other than the purposes allowed under the RICA Act.

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