Often, South Africans unknowingly lose their citizenship when they take on another nationality without first applying for the preservation of their South African citizenship, and sometimes they knowingly do away with it. They do not always realise what the consequences will be.
The following happens if you lose your South African citizenship:
- Usually, you retain your permanent resident status, but your identity number changes to indicate the change in your status. You will therefore need to change your identity number everywhere.
- You may no longer apply for a South African passport nor use your existing South African passport.
- You may no longer vote in South African elections. (The 1994 elections were an exception to the rule.)
- Children born after the loss of citizenship have no right to South African citizenship unless you successfully apply for reinstatement of your citizenship.
The Constitution does mention that one has the right to citizenship, but you lose that right if you do not comply with your legal obligations for maintaining your South African citizenship. It would therefore not help to invoke that.
Stay informed and enquire about the applicable processes before you take on another nationality.
This post is also available in: Afrikaans