Breytenbachs receive many queries on the retention of South African citizenship. Unfortunately, we also have to witness the frustration of many clients who lost their SA citizenship.
We thus aim to advise clients on how to protect their SA citizenship by retaining their citizenship before applying for another citizenship. As Breytenbachs specialise in UK and SA immigration matters, we will specifically deal with SA citizenship retention before applying for British citizenship.
Applying for British citizenship
You have to apply for the retention of your SA citizenship before you acquire British citizenship. This way, you will ensure that you safeguard your SA citizenship. You will have dual citizenship, and your SA citizenship will not be jeopardised.
If you fail to formally apply for dual citizenship permission before acquiring British citizenship through naturalisation, you will automatically lose your South African citizenship. However, SA born nationals normally retain their right to SA permanent residence status.
However, it is important to obtain confirmation in this regard from the SA authorities. This is necessary as you have to show proof of your status when travelling to and from South African whilst using your foreign passport.
Reinstating your lost SA citizenship
It is possible to reinstate your South African citizenship if you have lost it.
However, this process may cause quite an administrative hassle. Furthermore, the applicant has to live in South Africa for an extended time. One could apply for a returning resident and so forth, but it is a lot of hassle and money and a lot more effort than taking the time to protect it at the onset.
Process of retaining your SA nationality
The process to retain your South African nationality has two stages.
The first is to apply for a Certificate of Non-Acquisition from the UK Home Office. This letter confirms that you have not yet acquired British nationality. Once you receive this letter, you will be able to proceed to the second stage.
In the second stage, you have to submit this letter to the South African High Commission. This process is called the application for the Certificate of Retention. The Certificate of Retention will ensure that you retain your SA nationality when you become a national of another country.
Your South African citizenship will be safe, and you will have dual citizenship.
Why protect your South African citizenship?
Breytenbachs advise all our South African clients to follow the steps to the retention of their SA citizenship before applying for their British citizenship. Clients often ask why they need to bother to do this, as they believe that they are planning to migrate permanently.
The reason why this is important differs for each individual. Some people are proudly South African and do not wish to give up their citizenship. Others believe that they will never set foot in SA again. Or simply want to expedite their nationality application without waiting for the protection of their SA citizenship.
Whatever your personal choices are, we still encourage all of our clients to protect their SA citizenship for the following reasons:
You never know what the future holds. We have seen numerous times where a client believes that he/she will never return to SA and then indeed does. If you decide to return to South Africa, it is not as easy to do if you have lost your SA citizenship.
Renouncing your SA citizenship or forfeiting your SA citizenship by inaction on your part can also affect your children. Clients often decide without keeping their children in mind. A quick and hasty decision today might have an impact on their future children and generations down the line.
If you are no longer a SA citizen and have SA assets, this could seriously impact you. Not only from a tax point of view, but also inheritance tax, and even simple things like having a SA bank account. If you are not a SA citizen anymore, you need to declare it. This will make it hard to get credit in SA.
These are just a few reasons that we mention to our clients. Of course, it is at the end of the day the decision of every individual. Prevention is, however, definitely better than cure, and it the retention of your SA citizenship is not a difficult process.
How Breytenbachs can help you
Breytenbachs specialise in both SA and UK immigration matters and can advise clients on UK and SA nationality matters. We can also assist with advice on the retention of SA citizenship. Do not hesitate to contact us for more advice and assistance with your Nationality matter.