Having a second passport improves a person's work, study and travel options overseas. File photo: Vinta Supply Co/Pexels
Having a second passport improves a person's work, study and travel options overseas. File photo: Vinta Supply Co/Pexels

Dual citizenship for South Africans: What you need to know

By Travel Reporter Time of article published May 5, 2021

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If you want to obtain a second passport, read on.

Having a second passport improves a person's work, study and travel options overseas.

John Dunn, director of citizenship and immigration at Sable International, breaks down the process.

This is what he had to say:

What benefits does dual citizenship or dual nationality have?

Dunn said the citizenship allows South Africans to be nationals of multiple countries at the same time. Before South Africans applied to register as a citizen of another country, there were some specific rules they needed to follow to retain their South African citizenship.

"South Africans are permitted to acquire multiple citizenships, under certain conditions. You must apply for and be granted permission by the South African Department of Home Affairs for retention of your South African citizenship before attaining that citizenship. If you don’t do this before receiving citizenship, you can automatically lose your South African citizenship.

"If permission has been granted, you will be given a “Letter of Retention”. This rule applies to all South African citizens aged 18 years or older. Those who are under the age of 18 years are exempt and are not required to apply for dual citizenship, as long as they acquire the foreign citizenship before their 18th birthday," he said.

Dunn said in some instances where the person is deemed a citizen of a foreign country at birth, they can apply for a passport of that country and not have to register.

"They do not need to apply for retention of South African citizenship at all.

"When you have dual nationality, you must use your South African passport to enter and exit South Africa. It is considered a criminal offence to use another passport to enter the country if you are a South African passport holder. Outside of the country, you can use your foreign or South African nationality and passport freely," he explained.

How do you apply for retention of South African citizenship?

Dunn said the person has to complete the DHA-175 and DHA BI-1664 forms and submit these to the Home Affairs office, along with a letter from the Consulate or Embassy to prove that they haven't yet obtained citizenship.

Can you resume your South African citizenship after you have lost it?

Dunn said if a person lost their South African citizenship, they haven’t lost their right to permanent residence in South Africa. If they return to South Africa permanently, they will be able to apply for the resumption of their South African citizenship from within South Africa.

"If you obtain your South African citizenship through this method, you will gain full residency rights. You will be given a new ID number, and your voting rights will not be reinstated," he said.

What are the countries that allow dual nationality?

Dunn said most countries allow dual nationality. However, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Belarus, Botswana. Bhutan, China, Oman, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore are some of the countries that forbid dual citizenship.

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