If you are a South African taking up new citizenship abroad, you will either have to renounce your SA citizenship or, in some cases you might be able to retain it. In this post, we explore South African citizenship retention and renunciation and when you should follow which process.
Understanding the terms of your South African citizenship
Many South Africans are unaware of how assuming citizenship in another country might affect their citizenship. If you want to apply for foreign or dual citizenship, it is vital to apply for your citizenship retention letters before starting the process.
There are various lengthy administrative duties and rules that pertain to SA citizenship. The process of obtaining citizenship in a new country can be complicated and might require you to permanently give up your citizenship in South Africa. If you live abroad and want to acquire citizenship there, you may have to renounce your citizenship in South Africa, even though South Africa allows dual or multiple citizenship.
It is essential to keep in mind that the renunciation of citizenship is a very bold move. South African citizens always retain their right to permanent residency in the country, even if they did renounce citizenship. However, if you ever decide to move back to South Africa, resuming citizenship in the country takes years.
How can I apply for South African citizenship renunciation?
Before you can renounce your South African citizenship, normally, a determination of your current SA citizenship status is done. This verifies your current citizenship status. After this, you complete the DHA-246 form (Renunciation of South African Citizenship Application) and provide proof of your new foreign citizenship. Individuals can also submit a confirmation letter as proof that they are in the process of obtaining foreign citizenship.
If you acquired citizenship through naturalisation, you must also submit your original naturalisation certificate. Along with this certificate, a signed declaration confirming you wish to proceed with the renunciation application also has to be submitted.
The moment your declaration is registered at the DHA in Pretoria, you cease to be a South African citizen. Once the process is completed you are issued with a certificate confirming the renunciation is issued. As a last and final step, you need to submit your SA passport and identity document to be cancelled.
How do I apply for citizenship retention?
Should your new citizenship in another country allow you to keep your SA citizenship (dual citizenship), then you can apply for a certificate of Retention of South African Citizenship.
All South Africans considering citizenship abroad need to apply for the retention of their SA citizenship. But citizens younger than 18 are exempt from this process if they get foreign citizenship before their 18th birthday. SA citizens under the age of 18 automatically retain their citizenship for life. Unless they wish to acquire further foreign citizenship after they turn 18, they do not need to apply.
Keep in mind that SA citizens by birth that lost their SA citizenship always retain the right to Permanent Residence. If such they return to the country, they can apply for the resumption of SA citizenship. But this is a lengthy process you complete from within South Africa.
To apply for retention, you need to complete the BI-1664 (Application for Retention of South African Citizenship) and BI-529 (Determination of South African Citizenship) forms.
Get in touch with Apostil
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