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Who Can Get South African Citizenship? – What You Need To Know

Who Is Eligible For South African Citizenship?

There are hundreds of permutations to immigration, each with their own exceptions.

While immigration rules have various complexities, here are three primary ways to become eligible for South African citizenship.

Not all of them are straightforward and in unique instances you may have to refer to a lawyer for advice.

We’ve listed helpful contact details at the end of this story for Lawyers for Human Rights who can assist you.

According to the Western Cape Government website, which quotes the South African Citizenship Amendment Act 2010 that came into operation on 1 January 2013, there are three ways you can be eligible for South African citizenship.

These are by birth, descent and naturalisation.

1. Eligible by Birth:

  • If you were born in South Africa before October 6, 1995, you are eligible for citizenship.
  • If born after October 6, 1995, you must meet additional criteria:
    • One of your parents must be a South African citizen or have held a South African permanent residence permit at your birth.
    • You must be adopted by a South African citizen or by someone with a South African permanent residence permit, and your birth must have been registered within 30 days.

2. Eligible by Descent:

  • You can qualify for South African citizenship by descent if:
    • You were born outside of South Africa, but one of your parents is a South African citizen.
    • You were adopted by a South African citizen, and your birth was registered within 30 days.

3. Eligible by Naturalization:

  • Naturalization is a more complex process, and it can be challenging due to Department of Home Affairs (DHA) inefficiencies. However, you can apply for South African citizenship through naturalization in these instances:
    • If you have held a permanent residence permit for at least five years.
    • If you are married to a South African citizen.
    • If you are a minor under 21 years with a permanent residence.


  • Vote.
  • Be issued with a South African passport.
  • Come into South Africa after living somewhere else.

Please note that this article provides general information and should not be considered legal advice.

For specific cases, consult Lawyers for Human Rights, who can be reached via their immigration hotline at 0800079614 or on WhatsApp at +27817168791.

Further information can also be found in the provided links.

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