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Dual nationality with an expired SA passport

edited February 2015 in - South Africa
Please help. I have dual nationality, South African and British. My SA passport has expired, however I have an in date British. I need to travel to SA in three weeks for two weeks, and as far as I know I cannot get a new one in time. I have checked that an emergency travel document can be supplied to me within 5 days, however that is only a one way document, and there isn't enough time for me to get a renewed SA passport when I am there as apparently that takes several months too. Does anyone know whether it is okay to travel as a dual citizen into SA on my British? Or has anyone done it? Any advice or opinions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.


  • Of course you can enter South Africa on your British passport. There is no law that says you must enter South Africa on your South African passport. I do not understand why you think you can only enter on your SA passport.
    Being a Dual National means you have the choice to use which nationality to opt for when you travel.
  • I agree with Alethia, I can't imagine this would be a problem. So long as you arrive and depart on the same passport it doesn't matter which one you use.
  • Sorry to disagree, but (like Israel and quite a few other countries) I don't think South Africa uses common sense in this case. This question has come up before and I believe all adult South African citizens holing dual citizenship must enter and depart South Africa using their South African passport only....

    "... Applicants should note that In terms of section 26(B) of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995, it is a punishable offence for a South African citizen of 18 years and older to leave or enter South Africa on a foreign passport..."

  • You make a good point Terry, it is a slightly blurry issue in SA (that law has existed for a long time but is seldom enforced). My experience has been that so long as you travel in and out on the same passport they don't question it - it's people who leave on their SA passport and then try and come back on another, or vice versa that run into problems. Dano obviously lives in the UK at the moment so him arriving on a British passport shouldn't seem like an anomaly to them. But yes, I guess it is a risk, I've just never actually heard of anybody being barred entry - many South Africans are dual nationals. Proceed with caution Dano!
  • I am going to throw a curveball in to this thread.

    The South African Citizenship Act provides for retention of South African citizenship PRIOR to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship. A condition of attaining dual citizenship for all South African citizens aged 18 years or older is that they must apply and be granted permission to retain their South African citizenship prior to the acquisition of a foreign citizenship.

    If a South African citizen does not obtain this prior permission they will automatically lose their South African citizenship on voluntary acquisition of a foreign citizenship.

    South African citizens under the age of 18 years are exempt and do not require to apply for dual citizenship, as long as they acquire the foreign citizenship before their 18th birthday. They automatically retain their South African citizenship for life unless, once they have reached the age of 18 years and they then wish to acquire a further foreign citizenship, they will then have to apply for prior permission to retain their South African citizenship. Failing to do so, they will automatically lose their South African citizenship
    South African Citizenship Act 1995

    How many people fill in form B1-664 before obtaining another citizenship? South Africans probably do not know they need to do so, most people would assume they could retain their SA nationality.
  • Yeah, very interesting Alethia! Again, not something most South Africans are aware of or bother to do as far as I know. Probably also a law which is not very strictly implemented... I am not a dual citizen so I have no personal experience, but I somehow doubt all the South African/British citizens I know have been taking this into consideration.
  • What a mess!

  • Hi Dano, did you have any luck? I'm in a similar position and leaving next week. Thanks
  • Hi Dano & Guest2, I'm interested to know how you got on as I am in the same position. My SA passport expired a long time ago and I fly next week with only a valid UK passport
  • I'm in the same boat I too fly next week Friday but only have my uk passport,when I left sa on my british passport 5 months ago they stamped 26b first warning,what does that mean? will they allow me back in too apply for a new passport while on holiday? how many chances do you get ?I'm stressed and cant afford to lose my ticket money on this B.S. Does anyone know what I'm in for
  • This is what 26b means
    You need to renounce your SA citizenship if you want to keep travelling on your British passport.
  • Sorry to hijack this thread. I'm in a similar situation. Have dual nationality, have a letter of retention etc. We are travelling to SA in December. I noticed last night that my SA passport will expire on the 19th of Jan next year. We are travelling back to the UK on the 29th of December. My question is, will i be able to enter and exit SA with my South African passport as it has less than 6 months before it expires. Any help would be appreciated as this is stressing me out.

    Thanks lovely fellow travelers.
  • edited November 2015
    Hi TheDelft,

    If you follow the link that @Alethia posted above ( ) then you will see that you need to a have a passport valid for 30 days from the date of departure. As an SA citizen, until you revoke your citizenship, you're obligated to use your SA passport to enter the country.

    It is possible to apply for emergency travel documents, but those are typically only offered on conditions of travelling because of sickness, or the death of significant persons.

    However, if you do not formally apply to keep your South African citizenship prior to the acquisition of foreign citizenship your South African citizenship is automatically revoked; Alethia posted this earlier in the thread ( ).

    I'd advise contacting the SA High Commission in London and seek advice from them.

    Best of luck,
  • Hi Rowan

    Thanks for the speedy reply. Getting through to somebody at the High Commission in London is like finding chicken teeth.

    It would be nice if the original poster can update us on what happened in their case.

    Thanks again.
  • Ok, quick update, i managed to get through to the High Commission and the lady I spoke to was extremely helpful. She said I should apply for my passport here in the Uk and simply take the receipt they provide me with along when travelling to South Africa. As my passport only expires on the 19th of January and we are travelling back on the 29th of December, the receipt should be all the immigration officer needs to confirm I am eligble to travel on to the UK.

    Hope she is right, looks like Christmas might not be cancelled after all.

  • Hi @TheDelft ,

    That is great news! Thank you for your contribution as well. It will be great to hear how it goes on the ground.
    All the best for your holiday plans!
  • Going to bump as I'm in a similar boat.

    We're planning to travel in Feb for a close family wedding however my south African passport expired back in July. I've applied to renew my south African passport (yesterday) and been informed that it can take up to 4 month to receive my new passport.

    I have a valid British passport, an expired south African passport, SA ID card, letter of retention to keep my south African citizenship and a receipt to confirm my passport is being processed.

    Of course my initial hope is that the new passport arrives on time as we are 2 and a half months away from travelling.

    However, if the SA passport doesn't arrive, I really hope my British passport and the documents I have will be sufficient enough not to affect my SA citizenship. I'd happily take a warning or a small fine.

    Anyone have a different view or strong recommend I avoid taking the risk?

    I've contacted both the embassy in London the home office to obtain their advice however, I dont hold much hope (Given my past experience with them)

  • @mrkajee The British Home Office cannot help you with this matter as it is a South African nationality issue. Also what you are told at the Embassy can be very different to what actually happens when you arrive at border control. Diplomats are not immigration officers.

    It is your responsibility to keep your poassports up to date, so in effect you have brought this problem on yourself even your SA ID card has expired. However if the passport does not arrive in time, you can travel on your British passport , with the letter of retention and proof the passport is being processed. You should not receive a fine but a warning not to enter South Africa without your SA passport.

  • edited November 2015
    Many thanks for your reply.
    Sorry, I did mean SA home affairs not the British home office.

    Appreciate and understand that it's my responsibility to keep my passport up to date. However, let's face it, I'm not to first to experience this and certainly won't be the last.
    I guess that's why we have such forums and kind people like you who to take the time to reply.
    We can only learn and share from our experience.

    I'm sure logic will prevail here and a warning is what I guess somone in this situation deserves.

    Anyway, I'll be sure to feedback how this all turns out :)
  • Hi mrkajee, what happened regarding your situation? Would like to hear some feedback
  • Hi Guys, please help, same situation. Dual nationality, my SA passport has expired and I am travelling on my British Passport in a months time. Thinking of cancelling my trip. What are the consequences?
  • Hi Angelonel, I asked the SA Home Affairs they said you can stay only 90 days with a foreign passport however you should enter SA on your SA passport so you could get fined or warned... I was also scared of then booking and was going to cancel, but I have now booked. when do you fly?
  • The current SA Citizenship Act clearly stipulates that any person who has the right to make use of a South African passport must enter and leave South Africa whilst utilizing his/her South African passport and not a foreign one.

    If people fail to do so, they will be warned the first time but will definitely encounter further difficulties when he/she travels to SA again whilst utilizing a foreign passport.

    You must either renounce your SA citizenship or keep your SA passport up to date to prevent these issues becoming a problem.
  • Fionaj

    I fly on the 24 Feb, it would be my first time doing this, will I definitely get a warning first?

    I am happy to take that and even a small fine.
  • edited January 2016
    SA Home Affairs have confirmed to @fionaj that you are likely to be given a warning. I also checked with SA
    Home Affairs and posted above from the law they quoted to me. (you obviously did not read it)

    The current SA Citizenship Act clearly stipulates that any person who has the right to make use of a South African passport must enter and leave South Africa whilst utilizing his/her South African passport and not a foreign one.

    If people fail to do so, they will be warned the first time but will definitely encounter further difficulties when he/she travels to SA again whilst utilizing a foreign passport.

    It is the responsibility of all SA dual nationals to keep your passports up to date then you would not have these issues. If you cant be bothered to do that then renounce your SA citizenship.

  • I dont think its a matter of being bothered. It's making sure you remember along with every other chore in life.
    A mistake that we simply have to learn from.

    @angelonel we were in a similar boat. however fortunately, with only 2 weeks to go, we've just been informed that our passport is ready for collection.

    I did a lot of research. As long as you are planning not to overstay (90 days), at worst, you'll get a fine. Likelihood is a warning.

    The one example I came across where someone was fined (R1000) was because they overstayed their welcome by more than 90 days with a valid UK passport and an expired SA one.

    Cut a long story short, dont stress, accept the warning/ fine, treat the person at passport control with the upmost respect, enjoy your holiday and renew your passport when you get back :) x

  • for anyone else in a similar boat,
    We applied for an SA passport (from the embassy in London) end November.
    Email confirmation today that passport is ready for collection. In total it had taken 8 weeks to process (Inc 2 weeks for Xmas shutdown). A work colleague applied in July and hers had taken 6 weeks.

    Of course time scales vary, however, seems as though they are averaging 6 weeks to process SA passport applications from here in the UK.

    If your passport has expired, apply today! increase your chances of your passport being renewed.

    Hope that helps someone
  • Hi all,

    I was hoping to get a response from someone who has already travelled to SA with their naturalised British passport as opposed to their SA passport due to it being expired. And to find out if they managed to travel without too much hassle at border control?

    I understand from the above posts, and having called the SA consulate in London, that it is a criminal offence to attempt to enter SA with a foreign passport if you have dual nationality or if you have not applied to renounce your SA citizenship. You cannot assume that if you didn't apply for the Retention Letter when naturalising, that you have automatically renounced your SA citizenship. The only way to enter SA with a British passport legally (if your country of birth on the British passport says 'South Africa'), is if you have renounced your SA citizenship officially with the SA home office or consulate general in which ever country you now live.

    That said, it looks as if people have arrived at SA borders with their British passports, and are allowed through with a warning or fine, and a stamp in their British passport (26)B which is a first warning or something of the sort.

    I am travelling with 2 babies & a husband (all British), and my 19 year old son who has an expired SA passport (naturalised when he was 15) and who like me will travel with a British passport. I never applied to retain my SA citizenship out of choice, but I didn't apply to renounce my citizenship either. My son was a minor at the time, so didn't need to do either.

    I just want to hear from people who have travelled and managed to get through, and what sort of questions answers were asked/given. We are flying out in a week from today, so there is not time to apply for renewals or this letter of renunciation. It's fly, claim ignorance, and hope for the best, but I'd like to have some sort of idea of what to expect... South Africa's border control, immigration and law enforcement is always to unpredictable that it is a cause for concern. I'm only prepared to take the risk because it's my 40th and we didnt know about this passport entry problem until someone mentioned it to me yesterday, so everything is booked and paid for so we'd lose a lot of money cancelling so late in the day.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
  • Hi,

    This was a great thread that just seemed to die. Has Anyone got an update who has since entered and left on an EU passport (because their SA was expired)?

    What happened?

  • I've just come across this thread from a google search prompted by a recent visit to SA.
    My husband has dual nationality and chose to travel on his Irish passport, unaware of the Citizenship Act and because his SA passport was about to expire.
    We arrived at Joburg and after a long wait at passport control, husband got fed up and decided to join the shorter SA citizen queue. He was questioned pretty sternly when he got there as to why he didn't travel on his SA passport and his explanation about imminent expiry fell on deaf ears. The official stamped his Irish passport and wrote "1st warning" across the top. He had no problems leaving three weeks later on his Irish passport. Seems he'll need to renounce or renew next time we travel to SA though.

    Thanks for the explanations, we were pretty bemused about it, but now we know why it happened.
  • @suzieq thanks for sharing your experiences - it's useful to know how these things play out. The easiest thing to do is probably just to renew the passport as soon as possible from Ireland (or wherever you live) by going to the nearest South African Embassy.
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