You can acquire South African citizenship in several ways: by birth, by descent, by naturalisation and by registration. We’ll help you get your citizenship to live in South Africa permanently – or help in cases where your citizenship has been lost, renounced or needs to be resumed.
Citizenship by Birth
Any person who is born in South Africa and who had at least one parent who was a South African citizen or SA permanent residency permit holder at the time of birth of the person or who was adopted by a South African citizen or permanent resident in terms of the Children’s Act, 2005, can apply for citizenship by birth.
Citizenship by Descent
If you were born outside of South Africa to a South African citizen(s) or were adopted by a South African citizen in terms of the Children’s Act, 2005 and your birth was registered in accordance with the births and Deaths Registration Act,1992, you can apply for South African citizenship by descent.
Citizenship by Naturalisation
You can apply for naturalisation if you comply with the provisions of section 5 of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995, namely:
- You have a valid South African permanent residence permit or exemption
- As a permanent residency permit holder, you have had one year’s ordinary residence in the Republic of South Africa immediately prior to the application for naturalisation
- After you acquired permanent residency in South Africa you have had an additional 4 years of physical (actual) residence in the RSA during the eight years before the application for naturalisation (excluding the year of ordinary residence). Time spent in detention or residence subject to a condition does not count as ordinary or actual residence
- Or you are married to a South African spouse, and you have had two years of permanent residence and two years of marriage to the South African spouse immediately prior to the application but after you acquired permanent residence status
- Intend to continue to reside in the Republic or fall within the further categories specified in section 5(1)(e).
- You are of good and sound character
- You are able to communicate satisfactorily in any one of the official languages of South Africa.
- You have adequate knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of a South African citizen
The responsible parent can apply on behalf of a minor at any time provided the minor permanently and lawfully resides in the Republic.
Citizenship by Registration
This category of South African citizenship only applies to British citizens who lived in South Africa for at least two years immediately prior to 2 September 1949.
You can check the status of your citizenship by contacting the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs.
Retention of Citizenship
If you want to formally obtain the citizenship of another country while retaining your South African citizenship, you can apply for retention of your South African citizenship. The application must be made and approved before the acquisition of the other citizenship, or you will lose your SA citizenship automatically on the date that you have acquired the foreign citizenship.
Automatic Loss of Citizenship
Unless you have been granted retention of your South African citizenship prior to acquiring another citizenship, you will lose your South African citizenship automatically if you are 18 years and older and have obtained the citizenship of another country by a voluntary and formal act, other than marriage, or are serving in the armed forces of another country (where you are also a citizen) and that country is at war with South Africa.
Resumption of Citizenship
You may apply to have your South African citizenship reinstated if you are a former citizen by birth or descent and you have returned to South Africa permanently or are living in South Africa permanently.
Former citizens by naturalisation, must re-apply for permanent residence or apply for exemption thereof before they can be considered for resumption.
Exemption From Loss of Citizenship
Persons who have lost their South African citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country before 6 October 1995, may apply for exemption from the loss.
Renunciation of Citizenship
If you are a dual citizen or intend to acquire the citizenship of another country you may apply for renunciation of your SA citizenship.
Deprivation of Citizenship
You could be deprived of your South African citizenship if you are a citizen by naturalisation and
- your certificate of naturalisation was obtained fraudulently;
- you concealed a material fact relating to your application;
- you supplied false information about yourself.
If you are a dual citizen you may be deprived of your SA citizenship if you have, at any time, been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment in any country for an offence that would also have been a punishable offence in South Africa, or if deprivation would be in the public interest.
A person will be afforded the opportunity to show good cause why he or she should not be deprived of their citizenship before a final decision is taken.