New Permanent Residency Rules for Foreign Children

New Permanent Residency Rules for Foreign Children
New Permanent Residency Rules for Foreign Children

This article is essential reading for all South African permanent residency holders who have had children in South Africa, or who have children and are planning on returning to South Africa.

Remarkably there has been very little press surrounding this information but its effect on permanent residency holders is profound.

We ask that you please share this article with any individuals you know to be permanent residents of South Africa with children.

What’s the change?

Previously children who were born to permanent residency holders were granted citizenship by virtue of the fact that their parents were South African. This was reflected in their birth certificates where they were given an ID number.

As from October last year this is no longer the case. The law now states:

“Any person born in the Republic of parents who have been admitted into the Republic for permanent residence and who is not a South African citizen, qualifies to be a South African citizen by birth, if:

(a) he or she has lived in the Republic from the date of his or her birth to the date of becoming a major; and
(b) his or her birth is registered in the Republic in accordance with the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992).

What does this mean in layman’s terms?

Any child born after October last year will not be granted automatic citizenship, nor will they be granted permanent residency status automatically.

In short, they need a visa to be legal in South Africa.

What visa must they apply for?

The child will need to apply for temporary residency, probably under the relatives category, unless they are older children and are studying. In addition, they will need to apply for permanent residency.

When can they become citizens?

Reading the act amendments, the child will need to have resided in South Africa from birth until the age of 18 and have the appropriate birth registrations.

What about children born before the new regulations?

The birth must be registered and you must have a birth certificate with an ID number on it to be in compliance with the act.


Parents should take the following actions:

1. Check any recent birth certificates to see whether there is a South African ID number on it. If you are unsure, please scan a copy through to us.
2. If you have recently had a child (post October 2014), an application for temporary and permanent residency should be made as soon as possible.

As with most regulation changes by the Department, new rules take time to bed in. There may well be exceptions to the above and newborns since October 20104 have been given ID numbers. It is however imperative you check and take action if your child does not have a South African ID number. The results of not doing so can range from your child not being able to join a school to them being illegal in the country.

Getting more help

There is no doubt that this amendment to the Act could cause a lot of confusion and panic, so let us walk you through it if you are unsure about anything. You can either call us on 021 424 2460 in Cape Town or 011 234 4275 in Johannesburg. Alternatively, send an e-mail and one of our consultants will get back to you.