Citizenship in South Africa can be obtained in three ways: by birth, descent, or naturalization.
The South African Citizenship Amendment Act, 2010 (Act No. 17 of 2010), which came into effect on January 1, 2013, repealed the South African Citizenship Act, 1995 (Act 88 of 1995). It revised the criteria for applicants relating to citizenship.
South African Citizenship by Birth
If you were born in South Africa before October 6, 1995, or were born in South Africa after October 6, 1995, and
- one of your parents was a South African citizen or held a South African permanent residence permit at the time of your birth, or
- you were adopted by a South African citizen, or
- by someone who holds a South African permanent residence permit and
- your birth was registered within 30 days – you automatically qualify for South African citizenship.
South African Citizenship by descent
If you were born outside of South Africa to a parent who was a South African citizen at the time of your birth or you were adopted by a South African citizen, and your birth was registered, you can apply for citizenship by descent.
How to apply for South African citizenship by descent
You will need to submit the following documents to the Department of Home Affairs:
- Form DHA-24 to register your birth.
- Form BI-24, signed by both parents if your parents were unmarried at the time of your birth, to confirm paternity.
- Forms DHA-529.
- Your birth certificate.
- Your parents’ marriage certificate (if applicable).
- Form DHA-9, the application form for an identity document, along with two ID photographs (for those aged 15 years and over).
- Proof of your parent’s identity.
- If applicable, proof of your parents’ foreign citizenship.
- Adoption order (if applicable).
South African Citizenship by Naturalization
You can apply for South African citizenship through naturalization if you have held a permanent residence permit for at least 5 years if you have married a South African, or you are a minor under 21 years with a permanent residence.
How to apply for South African citizenship by naturalization
You will need to pay the fee for naturalization and submit the following documents (and copies in most cases) to the Department of Home Affairs.
- Forms DHA-63 and DHA-757.
- Your original South African non-citizen identity document.
- Your marriage certificate (if applicable).
- Your divorce decree (if applicable).
- An application for the re-issue of your identity document, including two ID photographs.
- The fee for the re-issue of your identity document.
- Proof of permanent residence or exemption.
- Form SAP 91 with a full set of fingerprints (needed for a police clearance report for applicants aged 18 years and over).
- If you are under 18 years old, your parents or legal guardian must sign the application form (BI-63).