South African Citizenship

South Africa Citizenship General information:

Achieving South African citizenship, when immigrating to South Africa, is often a ‘three step’ process. An immigrant cannot simply apply for citizenship straight away but must first hold temporary residence and then permanent residency. As permanent residency can take up to 36 months (in some cases longer) to achieve, immigrants mainly first apply for temporary residency, whilst waiting for their permanent residency to be approved.

Please remember that South African citizenship is not a right it’s a privilege

South African citizenship can, subject to the provisions of the South African Citizenship Act,1995,  be acquired by birth, descent, naturalisation and previously also by registration in specific instances. Citizenship by birth:


Citizenship can be applied under the following categories:

  • Birth
    • any person who is born in South Africa and who had at least one parent who was a South African citizen or SA permanent residency permit holder at the time of birth of the person or who was adopted by a South African citizen or permanent resident in terms of the Children’s Act, 2005
  • Descent
    • if you were born outside of South Africa to a South African citizen(s) or were adopted by a South African citizen in terms of the Children’s Act, 2005 and your birth was registered in accordance with the births and Deaths Registration Act,1992, you can apply for citizenship by descent by submitting the following documents:
  • Naturalisation
    • Registration of Foreign Birth
    • Application for Naturalization
    • Application for Retention of Citizenship
    • Application for Resumption of Citizenship
  • Automatic Loss of citizenship
    • Unless you have been granted retention of you South African Citizenship prior to acquiring another citizenship, you will lose your South African citizenship automatically if you are 18 years and older and;
      • have obtained the citizenship of another country by a voluntary and formal act, other than marriage, or
      • are serving in the armed forces of another country (where you are also a citizen) and that country is at war with South Africa.
  • Retention of Citizenship
    • If you want to formally obtain the citizenship of another country while retaining your South African citizenship, you can apply for retention of your South African citizenship by:
  • Exemption from loss of citizenship
    • Persons who have lost their South African citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country before 6 October 1995,may apply for exemption from the loss.