More wealthy South Africans are beginning to look overseas for second citizenship options. But the South African Citizenship Act needs to be considered before making an official application if one wishes to retain their citizenship.
When obtaining second citizenship, an applicant should take advice in their country of origin to ascertain whether they may hold dual citizenship.
What Does the South African Law Say?
The government allows dual citizenship. However, citizens over the age of 18 must first apply to retain their nationality or risk losing it.
According to Section 6(1)(a) of the South African Citizenship Act 88 of 1995, applicants are required to apply for and be granted permission to retain their citizenship before applying for additional citizenship. If individuals do not complete this process, they automatically lose their South African citizenship on voluntary foreign citizenship acquisition.
“Many South Africans consider dual citizenship to be a welcome privilege and in some cases even a necessity. An aspect of dual citizenship that is, however, often overlooked is the issue of the automatic loss of one’s South African citizenship,” said Matthew Venturas, an associate at Le Roux Attorneys Inc.
When applying for second citizenship, it’s important to remember to follow these steps in order to retain your South African citizenship.
Apply to Retain Your Citizenship
Individuals who are planning to apply for second citizenship need to obtain a letter of retention issued by the Department of Home Affairs. A letter of citizenship retention serves as proof that individuals can retain their South African citizenship while applying for and obtaining a second nationality in another country.
Documents needed for the Letter of Retention of Citizenship include:
- Complete the BI-529 and DHA BI-1664 forms
- Certified copy of current passport and identity document
- Proof of permanent residence in the foreign country
- Proof that one has not acquired citizenship in that country
- Proof of payment of the processing fee
Applications for the retention letter usually take between six and 12 months for the Department of Home Affairs to verify.
Are There Any Exceptions?
South African nationals under the age of 18 years are not required to apply for dual citizenship, as long as they acquire foreign citizenship before their 18th birthday. They automatically retain their citizenship of birth for life unless, once they have reached the age of 18 and then wish to acquire further foreign citizenship, they then have to apply for consent to retain their citizenship. Failing to do so, they automatically lose their South African citizenship.
International Travel Rules
Under the Citizenship Act, it is an offence for a South African citizen with dual citizenship to enter or leave the country using another country’s passport. Once individuals have obtained dual citizenship, they must always enter and depart South Africa on their valid South African passport.
However, a South African dual citizen can use their foreign passport freely outside the country.
How to Apply for Dual Citizenship
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Choosing the right citizenship by investment programme is vital and requires careful consideration by the individual regarding what they want from their investment. We recommended speaking to an expert at CS Global Partners before starting your journey to a second citizenship.