Do I automatically lose South African citizenship?

The simple answer to “Do I automatically lose South African citizenship?” is that, Unless you have been granted retention of citizenship before acquiring citizenship of another country, you will lose your SA citizenship automatically.

You may apply to have your South African citizenship reinstated if you are a former citizen by birth or descent and you have returned to South Africa permanently.

You may renounce your South African citizenship if you intend getting citizenship of another country.

You may apply to be exempted from loss of citizenship if you acquired the citizen of another country before 6 October 1995.

When you acquired citizenship:

  • Before 1995: You automatically lose your South African citizenship if you voluntarily acquired citizenship in another country without permission, except through marriage.
  • After 1995: The law is more complex. There was a court case in 2023 that declared the automatic loss unconstitutional, but the government may appeal. This means the situation is still a bit uncertain.

How you acquired citizenship:

  • By birth: You generally don’t lose your citizenship automatically, even if you acquire another one.
  • By naturalisation: You might lose your citizenship if you didn’t get permission to keep both citizenships.

Which country’s citizenship you acquired:

  • Some countries: South Africa has agreements allowing dual citizenship with certain countries.

It’s best to consult with a lawyer specializing in South African citizenship law for personalized advice. They can help you understand your specific situation and guide you through the process of retaining or regaining your citizenship, if necessary.