SA Citizenship Determination and Retention

If you require help with your SA Citizenship determination and retention, Breytenbachs can assist.

South Africans are allowed to hold more than two nationalities.

It is, however, crucial that persons protect their South African citizenship before taking on any other nationality through naturalisation. Should you fail to do so, you will automatically lose your South African citizenship.

Retaining your South African Nationality

South Africans who are about to apply for another citizenship through naturalisation must apply for the Retention of SA citizenship. The must do this before they acquire another citizenship. They must do this to safeguard their SA citizenship. The retention process ensures that their SA citizenship is protected and they can hold another nationality. It is important to note the difference between obtaining the other nationality through descent and naturalisation.


Persons who acquire another nationality via descent will NOT automatically lose their South African citizenship. Provided he/she can automatically apply for a second passport without lodging a formal application for such citizenship. Thus, they do not have to follow the process of retaining their SA citizenship. Descent is passed down by a parent only. An example is a British parent that passes citizenship down to children born outside of the UK.


This applies to people who obtain a second nationality through a formal application, I.e. after holding indefinite leave to remain for a certain period.  If you can obtain another citizenship through naturalisation, you must apply formally for the retention of your SA citizenship. You must do this before acquiring the other nationality. If you fail to do so, you will automatically lose your South African citizenship.

Reasons for Protecting Your South African Citizenship

Clients often ask the consultants at Breytenbachs Immigration Consultants (BIC) why they need to protect their SA Citizenship. They are often of the opinion that their move overseas is a permanent one.

Reasons will, of course, differ from case to case, and the decision is a personal one. However, protecting your SA citizenship in the first instance is a relatively simple process. Protecting it from the outset can prevent a lot of future hassle, should a person’s circumstances change.

Retention of your SA Citizenship

The process to retain your South African nationality has two stages. The first involves applying for a Certificate of Non-Acquisition from the relevant government authority. This will be where you will obtain your second citizenship.

The second stage involves applying for your Certificate of Retention from the relevant SA authorities. This could be the South African High Commission or SA Embassy, or SA Home Affairs offices in SA.  Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultant for more advice in this regard.

Reinstating your South African citizenship

It is possible to re-instate your South African Citizenship, should you have lost it by inaction or due to being uninformed about the required process of retaining one’s South African nationality. Breytenbachs have a dedicated team of SA Immigration consultants in South Africa. They deal with the SA Department of Home Affairs and will be able to assist in every unique circumstance. However, note that this can be a time-consuming process involving much red tape.

How Breytenbachs can help you

Breytenbachs has an SA Immigration department with experts who will be able to assist you with the determination of your SA citizenship and retention. Get the peace of mind that your case is in the experienced hands of our SA Immigration team.

Please do not hesitate to contact our SA Immigration team for further advice, a consultation, or to proceed with your application.

Please also see our article with the latest news on Lost SA Citizenship.

SA Citizenship Determination and Retention

Please contact us today for further information or applications.