Do children born to foreign nationals in South Africa automatically get citizenship?

It is often assumed that children born in a foreign country are recognised as citizens. This is not true for all countries though and it is not the case in South Africa.

Your child’s status in South Africa will depend on the type of visa or status you hold at the time of their birth.

Children born in South Africa where at least one parent is a citizen

If you or your partner is a South African citizen, your child will automatically get South African citizenship.

Foreign child adopted by South African citizens

Foreign children adopted by South African citizens also becomes a South African citizen by descent.

Children born in South Africa to temporary residents

Where both you and your partner are temporary South African residents, your child will also be recognised as a temporary resident. This means you’ll have to apply for a visa for your child to legalise their stay in South Africa.

Our advice? Record notice of the birth as soon as possible and consult with a South African immigration specialist to seek advice on the appropriate visa for your child.

Children born in South Africa to permanent residents

Children born to permanent resident parents are eligible to apply for relatives temporary and permanent residency based on their parents’ status. This should be done once your child’s birth has been registered and their passport have been obtained from your home country. It is advisable to do all applications as soon as possible after the birth.

My child does not have a visa. What happens now?

Children born to foreign parents in South Africa without a valid visa are not legal and will not be able to go to school. This is true whether or not it’s because you’ve mistakenly assumed they automatically get citizenship.

The good news is that you can legalise your child’s stay in South Africa – but you must not delay any longer than necessary to do this. Contact an immigration lawyer or attorney as soon as possible.

What if my child was born before October 2014?

Up to October 2014 foreign children born in South Africa to permanent residents did automatically get citizenship. This means these foreign children born prior to October 2014 are recognised as citizens provided:

  • The birth was registered, and
  • The child has a birth certificate with an ID number on it.

Get in touch if you need expert help with a visa application for your child

We invite you to contact us for a free consultation to determine the correct visa for your child. Our immigration consultants all have many years of experience and are up to date on all the latest visa regulations.

You can make contact either via email or phone:

  • Cape Town: +27 (0) 21 424 2460
  • Johannesburg: +27 (0) 11 234 4275.

You can also make use of our international phone numbers at the top of the page or send us a call-back request. If you do the latter, one of our consultants will contact you instead.

Whichever way you choose to contact us though you can rest assured that you’ll get the right advice the first time.