Citizenship in South Africa is ruled by the South African Citizenship Act. The Act explains the three ways in which a person can be a South African citizen:
- By birth
- By descent
- By naturalisation
Simply being born in SA does not automatically qualify a child for citizenship. Qualifying for citizenship through birth is only possible if you are born in South Africa and at least one of your parents is a South African citizen or an SA permanent residence permit holder. If you were born in a foreign country and then were adopted by a South African citizen, you can qualify for citizenship by descent. Children born to parents who are in South Africa illegally can only become a South African citizen through naturalisation. Naturalisation is the legal process of acquiring citizenship.
How can I become a South African citizen through naturalisation?
For children born in South Africa, but whose parents are not South African citizens and do not have permanent residence statuses, you qualify to apply for South African citizen when you turn 18, but only if:
- You have lived in South Africa from the date of your birth to the date of you turning 18, and
- Your birth has been registered in accordance with the provisions of the Births & Deaths Registration Act with the Department of Home Affairs.
By law, all children born in South Africa must be registered within 30 days of birth. A notice of birth document is issued at the clinic or hospital, as well as a document proving there was a medical witness to the birth. You will need these documents if you want to get a Birth Certificate from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). It is important to get these documents for your child, as he/she will need them at a later stage if they want to apply for SA citizenship.
Scorpion Legal Protection has a Specialist Foreign Nationals Department that assist with these kinds of matters. Please note that matters are complicated when both parents are undocumented and don’t have SA citizenship.
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* This is only basic legal advice and cannot be relied on solely. The information is correct at the time of being sent to publishing.