South African dual citizenship: Understanding the rules

Living abroad as a South African, the concept of dual citizenship is likely to have crossed your mind or been a topic of conversation. Making the right decision for your circumstances involves understanding the intricacies of South African citizenship and the process of applying for dual citizenship. In this guide, we will explore the details of South African dual citizenship, exploring eligibility, processes, advantages, and potential drawbacks.

Understanding dual citizenship

Dual citizenship, simply put, refers to an individual holding two nationalities simultaneously. It entails possessing passports and enjoying both countries’ rights and responsibilities. The distinct nationality laws of each country shape the dynamics of dual citizenship. Residing in two countries concurrently renders individuals double citizens, with the acquisition of dual citizenship necessitating adherence to the laws and regulations of each nation.

The process of obtaining South African dual citizenship

Obtaining dual citizenship involves various processes, contingent on the specific regulations of the countries involved. Birthright, naturalization, marriage, and investment are common pathways to dual citizenship. Some countries grant citizenship based on birth within their borders, irrespective of residence status. Naturalization requires individuals to fulfill residency requirements, with permanent residency often serving as a prerequisite. Marriage to a citizen can expedite the citizenship process in certain nations, while investment programs offer citizenship or residency in return for economic contributions.

South African dual citizenship: protocols and procedures

For South Africans contemplating dual citizenship, it is crucial to understand the protocols outlined by the South African Nationality Act of 2006. South Africa does allow dual citizenship, provided individuals adhere to specific procedures outlined by the Department of Home Affairs. Those over 18 seeking dual citizenship must first apply to retain their South African nationality.

Maintaining South African citizenship while acquiring a foreign one involves obtaining prior permission. Failure to secure permission could result in the automatic loss of South African nationality upon acquiring foreign citizenship. Reinstating South African citizenship, once lost, is a protracted and cumbersome process.

Weighing the pros and cons of South African dual citizenship

Despite the appeal of holding two passports, dual citizenship comes with potential downsides. Double taxation is a concern, and the application process can be time-consuming and expensive. Retaining South African citizenship alone can take up to 12 months, coupled with the foreign country’s residency requirements.

The decision to pursue dual citizenship should be weighed carefully, considering the benefits against the disadvantages. Being subject to the laws of two countries requires thorough research and consideration before embarking on the process.

Application process for South African dual citizenship

If you’re contemplating dual citizenship in South Africa, the application process involves several steps. Firstly, you must apply to retain your South African citizenship after completing a determination of citizenship. This includes completing forms, providing supporting documentation, and submitting a letter from the foreign country’s Consulate or Embassy confirming that you haven’t acquired citizenship there.

The necessary documents include the DHA-175 and DHA-529 forms, proof of uninterrupted residence one year before application, a South African Police clearance certificate, foreign police clearance, a letter confirming acceptance of dual nationality, and proof of payment.


Navigating the realm of dual citizenship requires a thorough understanding of the legal processes, potential pitfalls, and benefits. As a South African seeking dual citizenship, meticulous consideration and compliance with the applicable laws will guide you toward making informed decisions for your unique circumstances.