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Dual citizenship, expired SA passport, can I enter on UK passport

edited February 2010 in - Southern Africa
I am a dual citizen of South Africa and the UK. I wanted to visit my parents next month only to discover that my SA passport has expired. I've tried to contact the South African House in London but they are busy moving buildings and the phone line has been disconnected for over a week now (typical slap SA style). I've e-mailed them but no response either. On their website it says that it can take up to 4 months to either renew the passport or renounce your citizenship (which is what I am leaning towards at the moment). My question is would they know that I am actually a South African citizen at immigration in Cape Town just by looking at my British passport? My British passport is in my married name and I have never registerd the marriage with South Africa. Do I take a chance and go, would hate to be stopped and turned back (with an 8 month old in hand!)


  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi Pamela

    If you are a UK citizen then you can enter South Africa with your UK passport. You can also stay in SA for up to 90 days as long as your passport endorses you as a British citizen, which I assume it does.

    Read South Africa visa and passport entry requirements
    for more info...

    Hope this helps.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Thanks for the reply but that is in incorrect, as a dual citizen it is an offence to enter South Africa on any passport other than my South African one. I was just wondering if anyone knew how they would know that I am in fact a citizen if I went through customs on my British one... would it flag up on their system that I am South African? The more I think about it the less I want to take the chance... damn expired passport there goes my holiday :(

    This is an extract from the South African home office website...


    The Amendment Act repealed section 9 of the South African Citizenship Act, 1995 as of 15th September 2004, which regulated the use of the citizenship or nationality of another country by a South African dual citizen.

    This inter alia means that the system of exemption/letters of permission to make use of a foreign passport has now been terminated. No further applications in this regard may therefore be processed.

    The repealed section 9 has been replaced with a section as specified in the new section 26B. Section 26B reads as follows:

    “ A major citizen who-

    1. enters the Republic or departs from the Republic making use of the passport of another country; or
    2. while in the Republic, makes use of his or her citizenship or nationality of another country in order to gain an advantage or avoid a responsibility or duty,
    3. is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months”.

    From section 26B you will notice that it will henceforth be an offence for a major South African citizen to enter the Republic or to depart there from making use of the passport of another country. In other words making use of a passport other than a South African passport.

    Furthermore, it will also be an offence for such a citizen, while in the Republic, to use his or her foreign citizenship or nationality to gain an advantage or to avoid a responsibility or duty.

    In essence, the Amendment provides that a South African dual citizen can use his or her foreign passport (citizenship/nationality) freely outside South Africa, but in South Africa, may not use his or her foreign nationality or citizenship to gain an advantage or to avoid a responsibility or duty which he or she, as a South African citizen, would otherwise not have been entitled or subject to.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi Pamela

    I too hold dual citizenship (SA and British) and altough entering the UK on your British passport would be fine, I'm not sure if you can leave South Africa on it.

    If you attempted to do this, they might want you to produce either proof of permanent residence (in which case you'd have an ID book), or a visa to show that you've been in the country. Hypothetically, if you'd entered SA on your British passport (being a hypothetical British citizen with no SA citizenship), you would more than likely have a visa or stamp in it prooving this.

    If I were you, I wouldn't risk it or the money you would spend changing your plane ticket. Rather contact home affairs ASAP and find out how long it will take to renew your passport. I would assume they also have speedier channels for when there has been a death in the family and one needs to travel imediately...

    Good luck
  • edited 8:50PM
    I assume your parents live in the UK and not SA?

    But even so, if you were travelling to SA on your British passport, I don't know if you would be able to enter on it and, as you said, it's an offence to enter on anything other than your SA passport.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I am in the same position although living in canada and have british citizenship. my son now has canadian and all our sa passports expired long ago. I think we will just have to renounce our sa citizenship as only want to go back this one last time on a holiday. does anyone know if there is a lot of paperwork involved in renouncing sa citizenship? I have 4 months till we leave
  • edited 8:50PM
    I am in the exact position, my sa pasport has expired and I was not informed that I needed to complete a retention of SA citizenship before being naturalised as a British Citizen. I contacted the Embassy as was advised to complete a determination of citizenship form and apply for a foreign ID which will cost £2. In the interim you can get a letter which will allow you to enter SA and remain there for as long as you want. If you go back to live in SA you will lose your british citizenship. Tough choice but i plan to go further and when I get to SA i will contact home affairs. It would have been really nice if someone had warned me to complete that form before my naturalisation so that i could have kept both passports.
  • edited 8:50PM
    My British born wife has dual nationality with SA due to moving to SA when she very young and her parents working their for 12 years. She has been back in the Uk for 13 years now and we want to know if the dual nationality still stands and if I also have right to live and work in SA if we wanted to relocate. In a nutshell, do i get automatic entry through being married to a british citizen with dual nationality?
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi RobM
    I suspect that the dual nationality still stands, but you'd need to confirm that (previously SA citizens couldn't have dual citizenship and then a letter retaining your SA citizenship was required to apply for dual nationality, but now neither of those rules apply). But, regarding your right to live and work in SA if your wife is still an SA citizen, the answer is yes. You can apply for a temporary residence visa (you qualify for permanent residence too but the application time is 12-24 months) so go for temporary and you can still apply for your permanent residence at the same time. Termporary residence is valid for 2 years, but you can apply for extensions after that. All that you need to confirm the relationship is your marriage certificate. The following info might help:
  • edited 8:50PM
    I have dual South African/UK citizenship. My UK passport has expired and I'm in the process of applying for a new one. Question 4 reads: "Have you had any sort of passport or travel document before or been included in one"? Should I declare that I also have a South African Passport? How will they know? What if they change the rules in the future and maybe I'll be forced to give up my South African citizenship?

    Any advice would be appreciated.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Johnno - yes, you must declare that you have an SA passport. Any false declaration, if discovered, can have very serious consequences for you and your UK citizenship status. Neither SA nor UK has any rules forbidding duel citzenship so you really have nothing to hide.
  • edited 8:50PM
    My husband is going back to SA next month to visit his elderly mother. He was born in South Africa 65 years ago and came to live in London 30 years ago. He was naturalized as UK citizen in 1986 before these "new" rules, and was informed that by doing so he had lost his South African citizenship. So naturally he has not had a SA passport since then. We are confused by how the new Act affects him. Is he still regarded as having no SA citizenship? Can he travel in and out on his UK passport? He had no trouble doing so in 2008. Thanks.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I posted the previous entry yesterday and am giving my own answer. I have done some more research into this and consider that my husband forfeited his SA citizenship under section 19bis of the SA Citizenship Act 1949, as amended, when he became a naturalised UK citizen. He is going to travel to SA using his UK passport and will take a copy of his UK Naturalisation Certificate to show if there is any query.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I too have dual citizenship. I have travelled to SA on numerous occasions, 2-3 times a year since 2006, on my British passport with no problems, as my SA passport has expired. However on my way back to the UK on my last visit(15-07-2010), I was told that I needed to renew my SA passport without even telling the lady that I was SA'can.So they must have records on their systems. I argued that surely it was my choice on which passport I wanted to travel. She told me what the law stated, of which I was not aware, and told me that I will/could be refused entry on my next visit.

    So from my experience, it's who helps you at passport control on the day. I am now applying for a temporary passport for my visit in December, which I will receive within 14 days once I have applied. I will then get my old passport renewed in SA as it's much quicker and easier which a family member will collect and send to me in the UK.

    Good Luck!
  • edited 8:50PM
    Can we not just keep our SA passport up to date and our UK passport up to date without applying to dual nationality...? Uk keep putting their prices up..Im applying for I.L.R next year. I was told the UK homeoffice dont ask for your SA passport when applying....?
    I know of a few S.A people who have done this and travel with no problem for years.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi I entered South Africa on my foreign passport as I thought i lost my South African passport. just to find my passport in my back bag did not look properly. I now want to leave the country again but I need to use my south African Passport to do so. What must i do not to get in trouble thank you
  • edited 8:50PM
    My SA passport has expired and i need a renewal. The problem is that my full birth certificate is lsot, it take 6 months to get a new one but i was told that i could get a letter fromk the home office to prove my Uk citizenship is via my father being british.
    Does anyone know what letter I should be getting from the BHO? South African consulate tells me i need it but cant tell me what i should be getting.

    Please help....I am about to renounce my citizenship for SA just to save myself the hassles with this deranged passport procedure
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi, I am a duel national, UK and South African who whish to go work in South Africa and was wondering if I keep my UK nationality or how does it work?
  • edited 8:50PM
    You are fully entitled to work and live in both countries. If you have an SA id number, and a tax number, nothing can stop you working here.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Thank you for the response, let me just make it clear, I only became naturalised in 2007 as a UK citizen. My question is, are there regulations that would force me to enter the UK every so often in order to keep my UK citizenship?
  • edited 8:50PM

    I am a naturalised British Citizen, having been born in South Africa, and having lived in the UK for over 20 years. I recently noticed that my SA passport has expired, and have been trying to make sense of the SA passport laws. I did not complete any letter requesting to keep my SA nationality when I became a naturalised British Citizen in 2000.

    1. Can I enter and leave South Africa on my British passport?
    2. Has my South African citizenship expired?
    3. Can I renew my expired SA passport?

    I would appreciate some advice as I plan to travel to South Africa in 6 months or so, for a family visit.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I also need to fly in 3 months time to SA and have dual Citizeship
    I just lost my SA passport somehow or misplaced it

    Is the only way to apply for a tempory SA passport and fly with my UK one and enter SA with the UK one

    What will happen if i just enter with the UK one?
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi guys

    I see that you all finding it hard to gather the correct information of Renewing or Replacing your South African Passport within the UK.

    This is a problem us South African have had to deal with for years!

    Especially that the South African Embassy is so hard to get ahold of or any information from. And even then, it will take them around 4 to 6 months to get your South African passport. What happens if you need to travel or have an emergency and need it asap??

    Well I went through all this hastle and decided to find a way how I can assist other South Africans in getting their New South African Passport without going through the South African Embassy.

    I will assist you in getting your new South African Passport within 2weeks Guaranteed! You wont need to go through the South African Embassy. All you have to do is give me a call, and I will setup a Consultation with one of my staff who will guide you through filling out the Application Form. Your form will be Couriered on the same day!

    In two weeks time, we will have your New South African Passport ready for you! I would like to inform you that we are a legal service and that our service is 100% Guaranteed and Trackable online!!

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  • edited 8:50PM
    @Saffa415 - not to my knowledge, and I am in the same situation as you. A work visa is a temporary award, but UK citizenship is not, so once awarded should not be affected by living abroad.
  • edited 8:50PM
    My husband obtained a British Passport a few years ago, but was unaware that he had to request permission from SA Authorities. He was then told that he had 'lost' his SA citizenship by not requesting permission prior to getting his UK passport. We have since had another child and wish to apply for a SA passport. On the form it enquires if you have another citizenship and the details of permission granted. Can my son get a SA passport if my husband states that he did not get permission and also - will my husband still lose his right to renew his SA passport when it expires soon?
  • edited 8:50PM
    My friend Marila is at a loss - born in Jo'burg and raised in SA til she emigrated to NZ aged 9. Has just revealed she has never had an SA passport and we don't know if she's a citizen or not - parents are British and Kenyan born, we have no idea of their immigration statuses in SA when she was born. We are going to SA on holiday in 2 months and still haven't got this citizenship thing sorted - if she is, she needs a passport.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi All
    I hope one of you can give me some advise with my situation,

    I was born in South Africa to a South African father and British mother, when I was born my mother had myself and brother registered with the Uk and we received Uk citizenship.When I was about thirteen I decided to leave SA and move to the UK to be with my mother, I have now been here for about 17 years and have a child of my own and would like to go back with my son and girlfriend. My father is still in South africa with alot of my family. I do have an ID number as it is on my Birth Certificate, I just need to know if I am able to return to live and work in South Africa without any documents and what documents my partner would need. Hope you can help with this. I do have an expired SA passport but it is in SA with my father.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I have a challenge, am a Swazi by birth, and both my parents were born here in South Africa, but the challenge is that both I do not have their I.D numbers. Okay my mother when she was young she moved to Swaziland, and now I have her Swazi passport and in it there is where that specify that she is born in Kwazulu Natal, but Its a Swazi passport. Then to my father, he was somebody who travels too much, and both of my parents passed away, to my fathers side I only found his South African death certificate but it does not has his I.D number.

    So please help me, what to do, coz now I even entered South Africa and over stayed.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi there. I'm a Saffer by birth and got UK citizenship through my mother. I'm currently living in the UK. Last year my SA passport expired and I got the usual four month waiting time crap from London. I thus flew into Jo'burg without any problems on my UK passport. Strange thing though when I left to come back to the UK I was asked by the immigration official at ORT airport where my SA passport was as I was born in Jo'burg. I said it had expired and I was waiting for a renewed one to arrive. He informed me that it is now an offence to arrive or leave SA on a foreign passport if yr a South African citizen. This time around (Jan 2011) to avoid the four month stint, I arrived on my UK passport again and the day after I arrived, I applied for my SA passport. On the new application form it asks if you have acquired foreign citizenship. I left this blank as I know first hand a friend of mine who allowed his SA passport to expire and when he went to London office they asked for his old passport and confiscated it permanently when they realised he had another citizenship and he hadn't asked for permission prior to acquiring that UK citizenship. Anyway I collected my new passport the day before I was dure to leave but left on my UK passport to avoid being accused of flaunting SA immigration rules should I return on my UK passport. If I return to SA I will now arrive and leave on the Green Mamba.
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi there.

    I came across this thread when searching about fines on passports. I have both a SA and British passport, but when I came back from the UK 7 years ago, I made the mistake of coming back in on my British passport instead of my SA passport. The guy at customs just stamped my passport with a 'temporary residence permit' that stated it was valid until 2004-07-31. I then went to home affairs the following day and queried this, and they told me that it had been fixed. I explained that I came in on the wrong passport etc. The woman there, stamped over over the original stamp and then lectured me about applying for dual citizenship (which I never did). My father was born in the UK, hence the British passport, but I was born in SA and lived there for most of my life until I went on holiday in the UK for a few months. I have and I.D number etc. So I didn't see the need to apply for dual citizenship because I had intended on staying in SA. I was under the impression that this 'stamp' in my passport had been sorted out.

    3 years later, I decided to move to Ireland for good. As I was leaving Johannesburg airport, the guy at passport control notified me of a fine in my passport (I left on my British of course). I explained what happened, and about having it sorted out at home affairs, and he took me to security himself and they let me through. To this day I still don't know what happened there or what happened with that fine. My mother has since then rung home affairs and everybody she could hold of and no one can find a fine on my passport.

    I need to travel by plane soon,(using my British passport) and my question is, is that fine still active and can any country keep me out because of it? A friend of mine was saying that her husband overstayed his visa in Australia, and his passport had a fine in it, but once five years has passed, the fine becomes invalid? Is this true? I've tried contacting The British Embassy, but they're as useful as home affairs.

    Could anyone give me some feedback please. I won't be returning to SA permanently, and I haven't been back since then. This fine has stopped me from returning. I'm travelling to the UK soon and it'll be easier by plane than ferry. I don't intend on applying for dual citizenship, and would happily give up my SA passport, so that isn't the issue here. Could you please email me on [email protected]

    Any info would be great.
  • edited 8:50PM
    My SA passport -- and my wife's -- expired a few years ago.
    We are both UK Citizens, my wife through her UK-born mother and me now via Naturalisation.
    I was not aware of any requirement to apply for retention of SA Citizenship.

    Can we renew our SA passports and so regain/retain SA Citizenship in the process? The website seems to indicate that you must apply for retention of SA Citizenship before taking on UK.

    Do you know of anyone who has managed to renew their passports under these circumstances?

    Any info would be helpful.

  • edited 8:50PM
    I am a Canadian citizen who gave up South African citizenship when I immigrated. I have an expired SA passport but no birth certificate. I would like to apply for work permit /visa for SA, does it make any difference that I was born/raised there - or is it non no bearing to the application process. I am an equipment designer / mechanical engineer. Does anyone know if that is a job that will disqualify from applying because it would take away a job from a SA citizen as described in an earlier post?
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi all,
    I am a SA citizen, I have applied for UK citizenship but I wasn't aware I had to apply for a retention of my SA citiship.
    I am in process of getting a British citizenship, I need to attend a citizenship ceremony in the next 3 moths to receive my british citizenship certificate.
    Can I still apply for the retention of my SA citisenship as I am british yet, or is it too late.

    much appreciated

  • edited 8:50PM

    I wonder if anybody could help? My children have dual Irish South African Citizenship however their SA passports have expired. (My wife and I's passports are still valid.) We are planning to return to SA April 2011 but see that you are now required to enter on your SA passport only. Does anybody know if this is applicable to minors as well ? We werent planning to renew their SA passports untill we arrived in SA.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I'm a dual SA/UK citizen (born in SA) - my parents are from the UK but have permanent residence in SA for over 30yrs. I applied for my UK passport and left SA in Dec 2008 with no SA passport. At passport control they just checked my UK passport and SA ID book as I had no entry stamp in my passport. They asked for my SA passport but I advised I didn't have one and would attempt to obtain it while in the UK. I've now misplaced my SA birth certificate however I still have my ID book. How do I get my UK passport from London without a SA birth certificate? What documents are required and what's the process as I've emailed the SA Embassy in London numerous times over the past year with no response (typical SA style). I've been back to SA twice (late 2009 & 2010 and planned another trip later this year) with no issues (I get a 90 day visitors permit) but I'd rather do it legally with a SA Passport. I use my SA ID book when in SA as I have a SA credit card.
  • edited 8:50PM
    My 30yr old son was born in SA to British parents. We left SA in 1998 and his SA passport expired in 2008. He has travelled to SA on his Uk passport several times with no problems, the latest trip being Feb 2011. He now wants to return to SA permanently but is unsure if he is allowed to do this. I assume he has dual nationality. How does he go about renewing his SA passport or has he lost that right? He still has his SA ID book, and the old passport, and a full unabridged SA birth certificate.
    We would appreciate any info.
  • edited 8:50PM
    I am so worried-we've got dual citizenship. My family and I are travelling to SA in 4 days time . Last night I discovered that the kids sa passports expire while we are in SA. What do I do now - do I tell them when entering SA - what if they send us back to UK? or do we risk going in with our UK passports.
    Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

  • edited 8:50PM
    I was born in SA to British parents who lived and worked there from 1974 until 1993. I moved with my mum to UK in 1993 at the age of 14 and have lived and worked in UK ever since.

    I had a SA passport which expired in 1998 and I never renewed it, I have only ever had a UK once since. I am unsure if I have dual nationality now? Also can I enter SA on my UK passport - I have done so on 3 (1998, 2004 and 2009) occassions and have only been questioned once (in 2004). I was planning in renweing the SA passport while there as I live in Scotland and going to London to get a passport is a bit expensive.

    I am planning on going to Sa in September and I am now paranoid that I will be denied entry! Any advice?
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi, I am a South African Citizen on South African passport and about to get my British passport after being here for many years. My husband and I however want to move back to South Africa at the end of this year. I have heard that if you are not in the UK for 2 years after you have received British citizenship that you lose your British passport. Is this true as don't want to waste the £1000 odd pounds if so.

  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi all,
    I am after some advice...
    My wife is from SA and she has dual nationality, however her SA passport expired last year and we are due to go to SA in September visiting family. I know she should enter & leave SA on the SA passport so we are getting it renewed, but I have heard rumblings that is can take up to 6 months to get her SA passport renewed?
    We live in Manchester, so popping down to London to go the SA consulate really isn't an option, but the website and phone communication is a little poor!
    My question is, would it be worthwhile to take a trip to London to get it all sorted out in one fell swoop, as there seem to be conflicting views on many forums that you can actually get the passport renewed in a fairly short time frame, IF you attend the main office? Does anyone know if this is true?

    Cheers in advance
  • edited 8:50PM
    Hi all
    My daughter, now living abroad, holds dual citizenship (UK). She is due to visit SA this coming weekend but her SA passport expired a month ago. Does anyone know whether she'll be able to enter SA on her British passport, and then renew the SA passport whilst in SA? She is attempting today to get an emergency pasport via the Embassy, but we are concerned that she may not get it in time... Does anyone have any experience / advice - we would be most grateful. I tried calling home affairs this morning, and have had to hold for 20 minutes at a time...
    a mom
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