South African citizenshipMany South Africans abroad are not aware of the rules and administrative duties around citizenship of their home country, especially once they have assumed the citizenship of another country.

(Please note that we cannot assist with passport renewal as you are required to be present physically.)

Here at, we offer a fast and convenient service that makes a formal application to the relevant authorities for your Determination of Citizenship Status and obtains written confirmation from the relevant authorities confirming your status. We also assist our clients with obtaining other documents such as a Letter of Retention of SA Citizenship. Read more about both of these services below, as well as a third option for those renouncing their SA citizenship.


Determination of South African Citizenship example letter

What is the Determination of Citizenship Status?


A Determination of Citizenship Status for South Africa is ultimately the process of verifying whether an individual’s South African citizenship has been revoked or not. Should your citizenship status be revoked, you may apply, in certain circumstances, for the resumption thereof.

Sometimes, a person may have a relevant claim to South African citizenship. Perhaps they were born to a South African parent and never registered this birth in South Africa. Or, often, a person born in a previous part of South Africa (e.g. Namibia) while it was still part of South Africa, would have a legitimate claim to citizenship. Also, some people who have been out of South Africa for a very long time and wonder if their citizenship is still in tact, may require the Determination of Citizenship procedure.

The Head Office of the Department of Home Affairs is responsible for issuing Determinations of Citizenship. The application can only be lodged in the event that you can provide us with completed BI-529 (Determination of Citizenship Status South Africa) form (possibly you will need a BI-175 as well). Sometimes, you will also need to submit proof of your continuous residence (for one year prior to the application) as well as a valid South African Police Clearance Certificate (possibly a Police Clearance from the country or countries of present nationalities).


You can learn more about the Determination of citizenship status here.


Retention of Citizenship Letter South Africa example DHA-1155

What is a Letter of Retention of South African Citizenship?


Before you can take up citizenship in another country, you are required by law to make a formal application to the Department of Home Affairs or your closest South African mission/consulate abroad to retain your South African citizenship.

Many people have lost their citizenship unknowingly because they did not go through the Letter of Retention process

Thus, South African citizens that wish to apply for foreign citizenship without losing their South African citizenship must first apply for the retention of South African Citizenship. The Department of Home Affairs supplies general information on the topic, which can be found here.

In order to apply for a Letter of Retention of SA Citizenship, you will need to complete the BI-1664 (Application for Retention of South African Citizenship) and BI-529 (Determination of Citizenship Status South Africa) forms.

You will also need to supply us with clearly scanned copies of your original South African passport and your residence permit in the foreign country. Along with other vital documents, such as your SA ID and Birth Certificate, you will also need to submit written confirmation from the relevant authorities of the respective country confirming that you have not yet acquired citizenship in that country.


Make sure you start the South African citizenship retention process early to avoid any problems with gaining a second citizenship.


Why do I need to apply for a Letter of Retention of SA Citizenship?


If you want to obtain dual citizenship you must obtain permission from the DHA to retain your SA citizenship before applying for foreign citizenship. Before you can apply for this Letter, you will need to complete the process of Determination of Citizenship. Failing to apply for a Letter of Retention of SA Citizenship before applying for foreign citizenship will lead to you immediately losing your South African citizenship.


Renunciation of South African Citizenship


However, if you are taking up a new citizenship that requires you to renounce any other citizenships, you will need to apply for this at Home Affairs to prove that you are no longer a south African citizen. Some countries require you to show this before you obtain their citizenship, and some after, on certain conditions.

Typically, to apply, one needs to complete the Renunciation of South African Citizenship application form, DHA-246. Also, you’ll need to submit proof either of your new foreign citizenship, or a confirmation letter that you are applying for another citizenship shortly.

There are other application documents, including the DHA BI-529 (Determination of Citizenship Status South Africa). DIRCO has summarised the application requirements. However, you would do best to check the DHA on the matter, although strangely their website does not contain information on the renunciation of the citizenship process.

A last point – it may not be necessary to apply for renunciation of citizenship at all.

The South African High Commission in Australia states:

South African citizens who have voluntarily obtained the citizenship of another country after their eighteenth (18th) birthday, without applying and receiving permission to retain their South African citizenship prior to when they obtained their other citizenship, have automatically lost their South African Citizenship from the date they obtained the citizenship of the other country. Such persons consequently need not apply for renunciation.

Should you require a Renunciation of South African Citizenship document, can assist you with the application from abroad, on your behalf.


Contact us


Furthermore, to obtain assistance with any of the above Citizenship documentation services (Determination, Retention, Renunciation, etc), send us a message on our contact page, or have a look at our pricing page and fill in the enquiry form.

Forms on this page:
BI-529 (Determination of Citizenship Status South Africa)
BI-175 (Application for the Resumption of South African Citizenship)
BI-1664 (Application for Retention of South African Citizenship)