The conditions for dual citizenship and how to protect your South African Citizenship status
There are several ways to obtain South African Citizenship but what if you would like to obtain dual citizenship? To understand the process we start by looking at the South African Citizenship Act of 1995.
According to this act you are a recognized South African citizen if;
• You are a South African by birth
• You qualify for citizenship based on decent – in other words your parents or grandparents were or are South Africa citizens
• By naturalization – meaning that you were born in South Africa and at least one of your parents are a South African or at least one of your parents holds or held Permanent Residency in the country at the time of the applicant’s birth
• You were adopted from another country by South African citizens or at least one parent is a South African or holds permanent residency in the country.
Retaining your South African Citizenship
Some South African Nationals might be living and working in countries outside the republic. They may also hold, or would like to apply for citizenship or Permanent Residency, for the country in which they currently live and work but may want to retain their South African Citizenship.
The South African Department of Home Affairs states that application for the retention of your South African Citizenship “must be made and approved before acquisition of the other citizenship, or you will lose your SA citizenship automatically on the date that you have acquired the foreign citizenship.”
Applicants must complete and submit a set of forms to the South African Department of Home Affairs or any South African embassy, mission or consulate overseas.
But in some cases foreigners living in South Africa, and has Permanent Residency status in South Africa, would like to retain their original citizenship.
To protect your South African Citizenship you would have to apply for the retention of your citizenship at the South African High Commission or your nearest Home Affairs office in South Africa.
If you fail to formally apply for dual citizenship permission before becoming a citizen of another country through naturalization (or any other qualifying criteria) you will automatically lose your South African citizenship.
It is possible to re-instate one's South African citizenship once it has been lost, but it poses huge administration delays and dilemmas for the applicant.
Any former South African citizen by birth retains the right to South African Permanent Residency status. But once you return to South Africa you would have to wait at least 12 months before you would be eligible to apply for the re-instatement of your South African citizenship.