Got Two Passports? You Could Be In Danger Of Losing SA Citizenship

Did you know that holding two passports could see you at risk of losing one? We take a look what could affect your dual citizenship.
Melissa Cohen
2017-07-12
Dual citizenship is the term used to describe someone who is a legal citizen of two or more countries. This means that if you are granted dual citizenship, you are able to travel around the world whilst being in possession of two passports. We spoke to the founder of De Saude Attorneys at Law, Stefanie De Saude about the ins and outs of dual citizenship in South Africa. De Saude is an attorney specialising in South African immigration and citizenship. Here is what she had to say:

Dual Citizenship In South Africa

South Africa allows for dual and/or multiple citizenships for South African citizens depending on how it is acquired. It is, however, possible to lose your South African citizenship in the process depending on your circumstances.
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Who Automatically Qualifies For Dual Citizenship?

If you have been residing in a foreign country for a period of time and have been granted citizenship there, you will not lose your SA citizenship. This does not affect your SA citizenship. Another situation that does not affect your SA citizenship is if you are a minor. Any person under the age of 18 is allowed to obtain dual citizenship freely, without having to declare this to the South African government. Lastly, if you have ancestral history residing in a specific country, you immediately qualify for a descendency citizenship.

Who Is At Risk Of Losing Their Dual Citizenship?

According to The South African Citizenship Act, 1995 (Act 88 of 1995), a South African citizen will have their SA citizenship terminated if-
  • He or she partakes in any voluntary work in another country, this doesn't include marriage, and then gains citizenship for that country, or if;
  • He or she serves in the national army for the other country in a war against South Africa. This is against the law and the person will lose their SA citizenship.

What Process Do You Have To Go Through When Applying For A Second Passport?

If you are wanting to retain your South African citizenship while applying for an additional passport, it is important that you first submit a retention application to the South African Home Affairs. This letter needs to be submitted before you are granted citizenship in another country to avoid losing your SA citizenship.

If You Lose Your Passport, Is There A Way Of Getting It Back?

Yes, there is. You need to declare to Home Affairs that you have dual citizenship. This is in the form of a prescribed letter. SA Home Affairs will then reissue you with another SA passport and South African citizenship.

If You Were Granted Citizenship In A Country When You Were A Minor, Do You Have To Reapply When You Turn 18? 

No. If you gained citizenship when you were a minor, you don’t have to re-register when you turn 18. You are entitled to that citizenship for the rest of your life.
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Will I Lose Citizenship If I Move To Another Country?

No. If you were born in South Africa and then decided to move to another country and your passport expires, you can re-apply for a new passport. You will have to get confirmation of permanent residence, however.

How Would South Africa Know If A Person Has Applied For Another Passport For Another Country?

They wouldn’t. The only way that they could find out is if your SA passport expires and you apply for another one. However, nowhere does it say that you are compelled to declare your other passport. *If you are seeking dual citizenship and need the relevant documents, check out the South African Home Affairs website.
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