Dual Citizenship in South Africa

Dual Citizenship in South Africa

South Africa is among the countries that officially permit dual citizenship, as outlined in the South African nationality law established in 1995. Continue reading to learn how to obtain dual citizenship in South Africa while retaining your current passport.

General Requirements to Apply for Citizenship

Individuals seeking legal residence in South Africa are required to meet the following criteria:

  • Be under the age of 60.
  • Not have communicable diseases that can be transmitted through sexual contact, airborne droplets, or physical contact.
  • Possess at least secondary-level vocational education.
  • Have a clean criminal record.
  • Not be affiliated with terrorist organisations.
  • Refrain from publicly criticising the Constitution of South Africa. 
  • Have no history of prior deportation from South Africa.

Johannesburg. Photo: Clodagh Da Paixao (Unsplash)

Eligibility Criteria for South African Citizenship

Children with at least one parent who is a South African citizen acquire citizenship automatically, regardless of their place of birth. Children born to non-citizen parents within South African territory can apply for citizenship upon reaching the age of majority, provided their birth was registered by South African authorities. Similarly, children adopted by South African citizens also possess the right to citizenship; they can initiate the application process immediately upon finalising the adoption procedure.

Individuals married to South African citizens are eligible to apply for a passport from the country. To begin this process, they need to obtain a permanent resident card. To achieve this, their South African citizen spouse must provide confirmation of adequate financial support for their foreign partner. The option to apply for citizenship becomes available after two years of cohabitation.

Another pathway to obtain a South African passport is through naturalisation, although it involves a comprehensive process. Initially, you must apply for permanent residence, followed by residing in the country for a minimum of five years. Additionally, you'll need to successfully pass a language proficiency test and demonstrate a significant contribution to the state's economy.

Proof of your contribution can be substantiated through various means such as owning a business, receiving a work invitation from a South African company, holding shares in local enterprises, or possessing acquired real estate. The cumulative value of these assets should amount to at least 2.7 million ZAR ($150,000).

An additional mandatory step along this process involves participating in the naturalisation ceremony and undergoing an interview with a judge. This interview will determine whether you are granted citizenship or not.

Furthermore, there exists an option to obtain a South African passport through investments, with a minimum required amount of 2.5 million ZAR ($137,500). Your investment must be directed towards either generating new employment opportunities or providing support to existing local enterprises. As part of the citizenship application process, candidates undergo personal identity verification and medical examinations. The passport can be obtained through investment within a span of three to five years.

Document Checklist for Individuals Interested in Dual Citizenship 

The legal framework allows the retention of one's original citizenship during the application process for South African nationality. The Ministry of the Interior holds the authority to determine eligibility for citizenship, permanent resident cards, or temporary residence permits. Therefore, applicants are required to submit their document package to the Ministry. Particular emphasis should be placed on completing the application form as per the provided template. This template can be accessed online or via the announcement boards at the ministry. It's crucial to ensure the accuracy of the application form, as any inaccuracies can significantly increase the likelihood of document rejection.

The Document Package Includes:

  • A document confirming that the applicant's country of residence's laws permit dual citizenship (alternatively, an official renunciation of original citizenship is required if not allowed).
  • 14 photos adhering to the prescribed standard format (it's advisable to verify current requirements with the ministry).
  • A copy of your valid passport.
  • A passport containing a minimum of two clear pages.
  • A copy of the applicant’s birth certificate.
  • A copy of the applicant’s marriage certificate (if applicable).
  • Copies of the birth certificates of the applicant’s children (if applicable).
  • A police clearance certificate.
  • A medical certificate confirming the absence of dangerous diseases.
  • A higher education or secondary vocational education diploma.
  • Fingerprints and palm prints for both hands.

Simon’s Town. Photo: Casey Allen (Unsplash)

Rules for South African Citizens

Please bear in mind the following: a foreigner seeking South African citizenship is permitted to retain their original passport. Conversely, a South African citizen who intends to apply for citizenship in another country must first submit a petition to the Ministry of the Interior and obtain the necessary permit. Failing to do so will result in automatic revocation of their South African citizenship.

However, as of June 2023, the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa (SCA) has ruled that the deprivation of citizenship due to gaining citizenship from another country contravenes the Constitution. Consequently, it is foreseeable that this practice will likely become obsolete in the near future.

New citizens of South Africa must keep in mind and adhere to certain significant regulations.

Firstly, it is essential to exclusively use your South African passport when crossing the state border. Utilising other passports to enter or exit the country is regarded as illegal.

Secondly, South African citizens intending to engage in work or offer paid services to businesses that are tax residents of another country, along with foreign government bodies and military departments, must obtain permission from the Ministry of the Interior. Failure to adhere to this regulation could lead to the revocation of citizenship.

Thirdly, South African citizenship can be revoked in cases involving the commission of severe crimes that warrant sentences exceeding one year, as well as offences against the state and national security violations. Additionally, allegations of fraud, deliberate concealment of vital information, or deceptive misrepresentation during the application procedure can lead to the rescission of your South African citizenship, potentially resulting in a fine or a prison term of up to eight years.

In a Nutshell

South African legislation permits its citizens to hold dual citizenship. Nonetheless, individuals seeking this status must apply to the Ministry of the Interior for authorization. Those aiming to acquire South African citizenship while retaining their original passport are required to furnish a document validating their country of residence's allowance for dual citizenship.

Individuals possessing citizenship from multiple countries, including South Africa, must utilise their South African passport when crossing borders. Other documents will not be considered valid for this purpose. To safeguard your South African citizenship, refrain from engaging in work with foreign enterprises and governmental bodies without obtaining the necessary official permit beforehand. Furthermore, it is imperative to faithfully obey the laws.

Cover photo: Tsavo East National Park Kenya, Damian Patkowski (Unsplash)

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