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UK Dual Citizenship for South Africans

If you wish to apply for British nationality and keep your South African citizenship, you first need to get permission from South African authorities. Get in touch with IAS UK immigration experts to find out more.

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Dual Citizenship for South Africans

The United Kingdom allows dual citizenship, which is the right to become a citizen of another country while holding second (or multiple) passports.

However, it may get more complicated when it comes to your South African passport if you wish to become a UK national. The 2006 South African Nationality Act stipulates that any South African citizen over the age of 18 who wish to hold dual citizenship must first apply to retain their South African nationality.

If you are applying for British Citizenship from South Africa and you want to keep your first nationality, you can seek the professional advice of IAS’ UK immigration lawyers. Call us today to book your first advice session with one of our specialists, and to discuss your case.

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British Dual Citizenship for South Africans

The South African Citizenship Act states that a South African national must apply and be granted permission to retain their South African citizenship, prior to the acquisition of foreign nationality.

This is something you must always take into account before applying for UK citizenship and before requesting a British passport. If you don’t obtain this prior permission, you will automatically lose your South African nationality on the voluntary acquisition of foreign citizenship.

This rules only apply to South African citizens aged 18 or over. If you are a minor, you are not required to apply for permission to seek your home country nationality, if you acquire British citizenship before you turn 18.

How to apply for UK-South African dual citizenship

According to Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, South African citizens must apply for permission to retain their nationality before they apply for UK dual citizenship. Failing to do that will result in the loss of your South African citizenship.

Under certain circumstances, you may not need to apply for South African citizenship retention. For example, if you obtained British citizenship by birth, as one of your parents was born in the UK, you would automatically qualify for a foreign passport and you wouldn’t need to apply to retain your South African citizenship.

How to apply for retention of South African citizenship

If you wish to apply for British citizenship, you must first request to maintain your South African nationality. One year before you submit your application, you must provide detailed proof of continuous residence, along with a copy of your South African passport.

You can submit your request to the Home Affairs head office in the UK by completing the DHA-175 and DHA BI-1664 forms.

Get in touch with IAS’ UK immigration attorneys to find out more and to receive complete assistance with your British citizenship and South African nationality retention applications.

How to retain your South African nationality

The first step is to apply for a Certificate of Non-Acquisition from the UK Home Office. One of IAS’ UK immigration lawyers in South Africa can help you submit this request, which will result in a letter confirming that you have not yet acquired British nationality.

The second stage is to submit your application to the South African High Commission. This is an essential phase, where you are applying for a Certificate of Retention. If your request is successful, you will be able to apply for British nationality and be a dual citizen. This application can be done either in person or post. Your IAS consultant can provide you with more advice.

Entering and exiting South Africa

According to the South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2004, it is an offence for a South African citizen holding dual nationality to enter or depart the Republic of South Africa using the passport of another country.

In other words, if you have dual citizenship, you must by law enter and leave South Africa using your South African passport. You can still use your British passport to leave and enter any other country, according to that country’s rules.

Your rights as a British-South African dual citizen

As a South African dual citizen, you can use your British passport and nationality freely when travelling outside South African.

However, if you are in South Africa, you are not allowed to use your UK nationality to gain an advantage or to avoid any responsibility or duty which you would otherwise have or not have been entitled to.

Get in touch with our expert immigration attorneys to learn how to get UK dual citizenship. Contact us

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Frequently Asked Questions

To retain your South African citizenship, you must request formal permission from the South African Department of Home Affairs. If your application is successful, you will receive a “Letter of Retention”, proving that you are entitled to British dual nationality.

According to the 2004 Act, all South Africans departing or arriving at a port of entry in South Africa with a foreign passport will be issued with a warning. This will give you three months to obtain a South African passport.

The same applies if your South African passport has expired.

The only way to resume your South African citizen once you have lost it by applying for UK nationality is to move back to South Africa permanently.

If you were born in South Africa, you will never lose your right to permanent residence in this country, even though you lost your nationality. Once back in South Africa permanently, you will be able to apply for the resumption of your citizenship.

By renouncing or forfeiting your South African citizenship to get British nationality, you may affect the immigration future and background of your children and family. Besides, this can have a serious impact on your taxes or from an inheritance tax point of view.

Based on the South African Citizenship Act of 1995, in the past, the Minister of Home Affairs could deprive a citizen of their nationality for having used the citizenship of a foreign country. However, this has now been repealed and you don’t need to seek permission to use your British passport.

If you have renounced South African citizenship and you obtained British nationality, you have lost your right to a South African passport. In this case, you need a certificate from the South African authorities to entry with your non-South African passport.