You Can Lose Citizenship in South Africa

How You Can Lose Citizenship in South Africa

When applying for citizenship in another country, many South Africans unintentionally forfeit their South African citizenship. This can be a very upsetting experience, especially if you only discover this sometime after obtaining foreign citizenship.

Dual citizenship is permitted, although according to our Citizenship Act, you lose your South African citizenship if you “voluntarily and formally” acquire citizenship or nationality of another country. And Home Affairs is understanding that to suggest that through your own “formal act” of applying for foreign citizenship, you have deliberately renounced your South African citizenship.

Therefore, prior to submitting an application for foreign citizenship, it is crucial to have approval to keep your South African citizenship from the South African Department of Home Affairs. If you don’t, your South African citizenship will be automatically lost. All South African nationals who are at least 18 years old must abide by this rule. Prior to obtaining a foreign citizenship, they must apply and be given permission to keep their South African citizenship. You will receive a “Letter of Retention” as proof once you have finished this process. A South African citizen who voluntarily acquires a foreign citizenship without first obtaining this approval will automatically lose their South African citizenship.

If they obtain the foreign citizenship before becoming 18 years old, South African nationals under the age of 18 are free from the requirement to apply for dual citizenship. Unless they wish to acquire a new foreign citizenship after becoming 18 years old, in which case they must first request for permission to maintain their South African citizenship, they automatically retain their South African citizenship for life. If they don’t, their South African citizenship will be automatically revoked.

It is crucial to keep in mind that it is illegal under the South African Citizenship Act for a South African citizen who also holds citizenship in another country to enter or leave the Republic of South Africa using that country’s passport. A dual citizen must always enter and exit South Africa using a passport that is currently valid for South Africa.

The right to permanent residency in South Africa does not fall away for South African nationals by birth who automatically lost their South African citizenship. In the event that they return to South Africa permanently, they will be entitled to reapply from within the country for their South African citizenship.

June Luna Immigration Attorneys can offer you the support, direction, and advice you need to guarantee a successful application, regardless of whether you are trying to retain your South African citizenship or are in the process of regaining it.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions about your South African citizenship.