Your South African citizenship may have been revoked

Thanks to a law created in 1949, South Africans who have acquired citizenship in another country, without the prior written consent of the Minister of Home Affairs, run the risk of losing their South African citizenship.

1st Contact Visas

Who should be concerned?

In terms of Section 6 of the Citizenship Act, South Africans are required to secure the Minister’s prior written consent if they intend to obtain an additional citizenship while retaining their South African status. If you have acquired a second citizenship by a formal and voluntary act, as a major, you will need to ensure that you have not fallen foul of Section 6.

There are certain South African dual citizens who do not have to worry about losing their South African citizenship. If you were granted a second citizenship in the following ways, you do not need the written consent of the Minister to retain your South African citizenship:

  • Your second citizenship was acquired via marriage or an inherent right
  • You were born in a place and were given citizenship by operation of law
  • Your birth was registered late in a country other than South Africa by your parent or guardian

An example of an instance that may cause you to lose your South African citizenship would be the acquisition of a second passport by naturalisation. This commonly happens where you have lived in the UK for five years on a Tier 1 or 2 Visa.

Home Affairs getting tough on immigration

The Department of Home Affairs has begun enforcing immigration laws more rigidly in recent years. Section 6 in the Citizenship Act has been in force since 1949, but has never been enforced consistently. Now, however, with the department seemingly keen to make it more difficult for nationals to move in and out of South Africa, the rule is being enforced.

How to get your South African citizenship re-instated

The time at which you applied for your second citizenship will determine which application process you must follow. There are two options here; you will either have to apply to the Minister to resume your South African citizenship or you will need to apply for an exemption from Section 6 of the act.

Since 2011, just over 2,000 South Africans have lost their SA citizenship as a result of the enforcement of Section 6 of the Citizenship Act. Legal experts have doubted both the legality and constitutionality of this section, but it has yet to be challenged in the courts. As a result, for now, the best thing to do is to ensure you have the required permission from the Minister.

1st Contact Visas specialises in helping South Africans emigrate and obtain citizenship in the UK and Australia. If you need immigration help give us a call, toll free, on 0808 141 1664 (UK),  0800 003 163 (SA),  1800 039 300 (AUS).

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  • Roger Bower

    I am one of the above mentioned 2000 people that got this wonderful surprise when trying to return to South Africa, so I am currently living back in South Africa on my UK passport with a permanent residency visa I managed to get from the home office. Even though they revoke your citizenship, you will always have residency rights, meaning you u can still live, work, pay taxes, get loans and bonds as normal, your ID number Will change and say “non citizen”, the only thing I have been told I cannot do is vote in South Africa. Besides that life is normal when returning you are just on a British Passport. Ps get the residency visa sorted out as soon as you get back to South Africa else it will hinder employment. It’s a pain to get but will help a lot once you have it. The other thing is try and get a letter from the South African embassy in London before returning else they will not have a clue what you talking about when you go in to apply for the residency rights visa.

  • Douglas

    Hi, these laws are really confusing and I would like to know where I stand. My Grandfather was born in the UK and my Father in South Africa. My father was registered as a British Citizen. I was registered at birth on my Fathers UK passport in 1975 as a British citizen as well. When I applied for my SA passport in 2006 I was living near Thabazimbi. There was a question in the forms as to whether I held another passport. I left it blank as I wanted more information on the implications of my answer and no one there could speak English properly. In 2007 and 2008 I traveled in and out UK and SA with both passports without a hassle. Am I sill a Dual National or do I need permission the retain my SA citizenship? How has the law changed?

  • KarlvB

    See the following link from the SA Embassy in the UK about retention of citizenship which needs to be applied for and done before naturalising: http://southafricahouseuk.com/passports/psprt_citret.html

  • LeonW

    Hi, I have a valid South African passport in my maiden name but have since aquired a British passport in my married name. Has my South African passport been revoked? how would they know if I had 2 passports in different names