Dual citizenship – South Africa

Dual citizenship - South Africa
Dual citizenship – South Africa

Dual citizenship – South Africans holding second passports

We regularly receive  questions from South Africans holding second passports enquiring how this does, or does not, effect their South African citizenship.

Much confusion and differing stories circulate the internet and South African ex pat communities about whether South Africans are allowed duel citizenship and their right to hold second passports.

A lot of this confusion stems from the regulations within the Citizenship Act of 1995 which stated:

Deprivation of citizenship on grounds of using citizenship of another country
9. The Minister may by order deprive a South African citizen of his or her South African citizenship if he or she also has the citizenship or nationality of another country, and has at any time made use of the franchise or the passport facilities of that country or performed such other voluntary act which, to the satisfaction of the Minister, indicates that such citizen has made use of the citizenship or nationality of that other country.

The clear implication here was that use of a second passport by a South African citizen would entitle the Minister of Home Affairs to remove that persons rights to citizenship.

This is in some circles still the widely held belief, but in fact this part of the act, dealing with dual citizenship and the use of another nationality / passport by a South African, was later repealed by the government.

In the repealing of section 9 the government withdrew the  right of the Minister of Home Affairs to take away the citizenship status of a South African for having used the citizenship of a foreign country. In doing so the previous requirements that would have allowed use of a foreign passport , such as exemptions or letters of permission, are no longer required.

In other words South African citizens could now use their foreign (second) passports whilst travelling abroad.

However, what South African citizens must be aware of is the ruling that came into effect with the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2004. This made it an offence for an adult South African citizen to enter the Republic or depart from it using the passport of another country. In addition to this, the South African citizen may not, whilst in South Africa, use their foreign citizenship to gain advantage or avoid a responsibility or duty.

In laymans terms this means that a South African citizen, who has dual citizenship (a second passport) can utilise this freely outside of South Africa but when entering or leaving South Africa, they must use their South African passport.

The below is an exert from the departments website (http://www.southafrica-newyork.net/homeaffairs/dualcitinfo.htm)

The Department has received a number of enquiries from our ports of entry on whether or not South Africans who arrive at border posts with foreign passports may be refused to enter or depart from the Republic.

The Department is obliged to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act. However, we acknowledge that many affected South Africans may not yet be aware of the amendments to the Citizenship Act and the implications for themselves.

We have therefore decided that affected South Africans departing or arriving through our ports of entry, attempting to use a foreign passport, will be issued with a warning giving them three months to obtain a South African passport. They will be allowed to depart or enter South Africa.

Accordingly, we would like advise all South Africans who have a dual citizenship and do not have South African passports to apply for their South African passports at their earliest opportunity. Distributed by the Department of Foreign Affairs on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs.

If you have any questions regarding your dual citizenship or that you are a South African holding a second passport  you should contact the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate in your area.

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