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Obtain Citizenship in South Africa

Obtain Citizenship in South Africa

A foreign national can obtain citizenship in South Africa through naturalization or descent. Automatic qualification for citizenship is possible for those born in SA (when at least one parent is a SA citizen or permanent resident), as well as for those adopted by a South African citizen.

Obtaining permanent residence in South Africa before lodging the application for citizenship by naturalization is one of the mandatory conditions and our team can assist applicants who have been living in the country and are ready to start this process.

An attorney in South Africa from our team will also guide those citizenship applicants who submit their request via citizenship by descent.

Apply for South African citizenship by naturalization

Naturalization is understood as the legal process of admitting a foreigner to the citizenship of a country. Applications for this status are lodged with Immigration Services and are forwarded for verification and approval with the Head Office Citizenship Section.

One can obtain citizenship in South Africa through naturalization by complying with the following requirements:

  • Reside in the country on a permanent residence permit for South Africa for a period of five years after being granted the permanent residence status; applications are not accepted if the individual has less than the mandatory five-year period;
  • Show proficiency in one of the official languages (for most applicants, this will be English);
  • Be of good character and aware of the duties and responsibilities of an SA citizen;
  • Attend a special Induction, as well as the Naturalization Ceremony;
  • Provide all the necessary documentation that proves compliance with the aforementioned points, as well as other documents that may be required.

A foreign national who wishes to obtain citizenship in South Africa will not have to renounce his former nationality, however, a letter confirming the acceptance of dual nationality from the applicant’s country of origin is generally required. Our team can give you more details.

General steps for citizenship by naturalization applications

Naturalization applications generally observe the following steps:

  • The applicant completes the minimum mandatory permanent residence period of five years;
  • He or she informs the Immigration Services of the completion of this period and awaits the verification of the residence permit; a signed letter is then issued;
  • The applicant submits a request to obtain a police criminal record check; this is to be attached to the file; around the same time, the individual also applies for and obtains a letter of acceptance of dual citizenship from his country of origin;
  • The application for naturalization is forwarded to the Head Office of the Citizenship Section, together with all the other needed documents (residence permit copy, ID copy, proof of language proficiency, etc.);
  • If approved, the individual attends the Induction to become a citizen, followed by the mandatory naturalization ceremony.

For those who wish to obtain citizenship in South Africa through descent, as opposed to naturalization, the following conditions are relevant:

According to 2021 estimates from South Africa’s Statistical Office, the mid-year population was 60,14 million people. Out of this total:

  • 51,1% of the population was female;
  • 48.9% of the population was male;
  • Gauteng and Western Cape remain the most populous areas, with the largest inflow of immigrants, with an estimated population of 15,81 million people living in the province of Gauteng.

If you are interested in immigration to South Africa, our team can answer your questions. We provide solutions for foreign nationals coming to the country under a business visa, as well as for those seeking employment.

If you are interested in other topics, such as company formation in South Africa, our team can also provide answers and assistance to business and commercial issues.