South African Citizenship and


South African Citizenship and dual nationality

Recently, the fact that South Africans can lose their South African citizenship if they do not retain their SA citizenship before taking on any other nationality through naturalization made the headlines again.

South African Citizenship and


Many individuals and organisations are making calls again for the law on this to be amended.

Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants strongly suggest that any person interested in dual citizenship, make themselves aware of the facts, to avoid unnecessary hassle and heartache.

Dual Nationality for South Africans

South Africans can hold more than two nationalities. However, one first has to apply to retain your SA citizenship before taking on any other nationality through naturalization. If a person fails to follow this process, you will automatically lose your South African citizenship. Furthermore, we have found that even if a person takes up a second nationality through direct descent it is important to still safeguard his/her SA nationality status so that proof thereof can be submitted when a newly issued SA passport is applied for from outside South Africa as to avoid any difficulties when such applications are lodged.

The process of retaining one’s South African citizenship must be done through a formal application. It has to be done in the country where one resides when the second nationality is obtained. Important to also note is that one must apply before the second nationality is granted.

Due to recent developments, when applying for SA passports from abroad we advise clients to ALWAYS retain their SA citizenship status. Normally, if you acquire another nationality through direct descent, you will not lose your South African citizenship. However, we advise clients (especially UK nationals) who were born before 1983 and intend to obtain their UK nationality via their mothers, to apply for retention of their South African citizenship.

South African Citizenship check

Persons who are concerned that they might have lost their South African Citizenship, through not first retaining their SA citizenship, before acquiring another one, can do an SA citizenship check. The SA Citizenship check is done through a South African citizenship determination application. This check normally takes three to four months. This is, however, a general time frame and it might take longer if there are delays at the Head offices of Home Affairs where these are finalized.

Re-instating your South African citizenship

It is possible to re-instate your South African Citizenship, should you have lost it by inaction or due to being uninformed about the required process of retaining one’s South African nationality. Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants (BIC) has a dedicated team of SA Immigration consultants in South Africa, dealing with SA Department Home Affairs, who will be able to assist in every unique circumstance.

It is important to note that reinstatements can only be done locally in SA, and the applicant will have to show that he/she has resided in SA for a period of at least 12 months before such an application can be lodged.

South African citizenship and time out of South Africa

Many persons are concerned that they might lose their SA citizenship, due to being away for long. Fortunately, South African citizens can reside outside South Africa for lengthy periods, without affecting their citizenship.

South African Permanent Residence holders, however, cannot reside outside South Africa for a period longer than three years, except in certain circumstances.

Children born from parents with dual citizenship

If South African parents hold dual nationality, South African and a second nationality of a country that allows for dual nationality status, the child will also be able to apply for SA citizenship. The parents will need to register their child’s foreign birth at the South African High Commission / Embassy situated nearest to where the family resides / it can be done locally in South Africa. This must preferably be done shortly after the birth. If the child is born in South Africa, the parents must simply register the birth at the Department of Home Affairs.

Reasons for protecting your South African citizenship

The main reason why Breytenbachs advise clients to retain their South African citizenship, is because protecting your SA citizenship in the first instance is a relatively simple process.

To protect it from the outset can prevent a lot of administration and hassle for the future, should a person’s circumstances change, and he or she decides to move back to South Africa.

For more information, please contact our SA Immigration Department at or visit our website at