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South Africa – Citizenship

In South Africa, the process of obtaining citizenship depends on the circumstances of the applicant. Generally, there are several ways to become a South African citizen:

  • By birth
  • Through naturalization
  • By descent
  • Through marriage or partnership

By birt

A person can become a South African citizen by birth if at least one of their parents is a South African citizen or a permanent resident.

Through naturalizatio

Naturalization is the process by which a foreign national can become a South African citizen. To be eligible for naturalization, a person must:

  • Have been a permanent resident for at least five years
  • Have lived in South Africa for at least one year after being granted permanent residency
  • Have a good understanding of the English language, and be able to speak and write it
  • Be of good character
  • Plan to continue to reside in South Africa

By descen

A person born outside South Africa to a South African parent may be eligible for South African citizenship by descent. However, the parent must have been a citizen of South Africa when the child was born.

Through marriage or partnershi

If you are married to, or in a long-term partnership with a South African citizen, you may be eligible to apply for South African citizenship after five years of residency in the country.

Process of Applying for Citizenship in South Africa

The process for applying for citizenship in South Africa varies depending on the applicant’s circumstances. Here is a brief overview of the application process for each category of applicant:


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Naturalization

To apply for citizenship by naturalization, the applicant must complete an application form and submit it to the Department of Home Affairs along with the required supporting documents. The application form can be obtained from the Department of Home Affairs website or any South African embassy or consulate.

The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • A certified copy of the applicant’s passport
  • A police clearance certificate from the applicant’s country of origin, and from any other country where the applicant has lived for more than a year
  • A medical certificate, including an HIV test
  • Proof of residence in South Africa
  • Proof of proficiency in the English language
  • Proof of financial security
  • A statement of any criminal record

By descent

To apply for South African citizenship by descent, the applicant must complete an application form and submit it to a South African embassy or consulate. The application form can be obtained from the embassy or consulate, or from the Department of Home Affairs website.

The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • A certified copy of the applicant’s birth certificate
  • A certified copy of the South African parent’s ID or passport
  • A certified copy of the parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable

Through marriage or partnership

To apply for South African citizenship through marriage or partnership, the applicant must complete an application form and submit it to the Department of Home Affairs. The application form can be obtained from the Department of Home Affairs website or any South African embassy or consulate.

The application must be accompanied by the following documents:

  • A certified copy of the applicant’s passport
  • Proof of marriage or partnership
  • Proof of residence in South Africa for at least five years
  • A police clearance certificate from the applicant’s country of origin, and from any other country where the applicant has lived for more than a year
  • A medical certificate, including an HIV test
  • Proof of proficiency in the English language
  • Proof of financial security
  • A statement of any criminal record

Advantages of Being Granted Citizenship in South Africa

South African citizenship provides a number of benefits, including:

  • The right to vote in elections
  • The right to work and reside in South Africa


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