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Dual citizenship

Most countries allow dual nationality – the right to become a citizen of another country and to hold second (or multiple) passports. Countries like Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and Portugal allow dual nationality. It gets more complicated with Kenya, South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK.

Consequences of dual citizenship

There are several consequences of dual nationality that you should note:

  • The nationality laws of the country of which you’re already a citizen may not allow dual nationality.

  • Under the nationality laws of some countries, a married person automatically takes on their partner's nationality. Children may also automatically take on a parent's nationality even if they were born abroad.

  • Under international law, a country cannot give diplomatic assistance if you are resident in a country of which you are a national. For example, if you hold both UK and Chinese nationality, the UK would be unable to give you diplomatic assistance when you are visiting or resident in China.

Your existing nationality, and that of your partner or children, could be compromised if you take on Australian nationality. You should always seek professional advice when obtaining dual nationality, especially before you travel internationally.

UK and dual citizenship

The United Kingdom allows dual nationality. However, if you hold one of the other four forms of British nationality, different rules apply, and you must seek further advice.

Please note: Obtaining a second nationality can mean the automatic loss of one of these four British nationalities. Always consult an expert when applying for a new nationality.

Find out if you’re eligible for a second nationality

Dual citizenship for South Africans

The South African Citizenship Act provides for retention of South African nationality prior to the acquisition of a foreign nationality, unless the subject is a naturalised South African. A condition of attaining dual nationality is that they must apply and be granted permission to retain their South African nationality, prior to the acquisition of a foreign nationality.

Find out if you qualify for dual citizenship

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

Entering and exiting the country

It is an offence for a South African citizen with dual nationality to enter or depart the Republic of South Africa making use of the passport of another country. Once a person has been granted dual citizenship, the holder must always enter and depart South Africa on their valid South African passport.

Use of South African nationality

Legislation provides that a South African dual citizen can use their foreign passport and nationality freely outside South Africa. However, in South Africa, they may not use their foreign nationality to gain an advantage or to avoid a responsibility or duty which they would otherwise have or have not been entitled or subjected to.

South African by birth

South African citizens by birth who automatically lost their South African nationality, never lose their right to permanent residence in South Africa. Should they permanently return to South Africa, they will be able to apply for the resumption of their South African nationality from within South Africa.

Existing dual nationals

A provision of the South African Citizenship Act of 1995, allowing the Minister of Home Affairs to deprive a citizen of his or her nationality for having used the nationality of a foreign country, has been repealed. As a result, the need for exemptions or letters of permission from the Minister to make use of a foreign passport has been terminated.

Automatic dual citizenship (by operation of law)

Under the nationality laws of some countries, a married person automatically takes on their partner's nationality. Children may also have a parent's nationality even if they were born abroad. There may be other circumstances where a foreign nationality can be acquired by law, without a formal and voluntary application.

The law makes clear that because such nationality was not gained by application, dual nationality and the retention of their South African nationality would remain.

Discuss your options with regards to South African dual citizenship

Dual citizenship for citizens of Kenya

Kenya has recently changed its dual nationality provisions to allow its citizens to hold multiple nationalities in certain circumstances.Under the new regulations of the 2011 Constitution of Kenya, one has to be a Kenyan citizen “by birth” in order to qualify for dual nationality.

The following classes will be considered to be Kenyan citizens by birth:

  • Subjects born anywhere and one of the parents is a citizen of Kenya at the time of the birth

  • Persons who became automatic Kenyan citizens on 12 December 1963

The following persons who registered as Kenyan citizens from the following groups:

  • Those born in Kenya with no parent born there (Section 88(1) 2002 or 2(1) 1963)

  • Women married to persons before 12 December 1963, who became automatic Kenyans (Section 88(2) & (3) 2002 or 2(2) & (3) 1963)

  • Those ordinarily resident in Kenya on 12 December 1963 (Section 88(4) 2002 or 2(4) 1963)

  • Those citizens of the UK and colonies who had that status before 12 December 1963 because of naturalisation or registration as such a citizen in Kenya (Section 88(5) 2002 or 2(5) 1963)

Please note: “2002” and “1963” above relate to the 2002 Constitution of Kenya and the 1963 Constitution respectively. Given the complex nature of Kenya’s dual citizenship regulations it is highly recommended that you contact one of our British nationality experts.

Discuss your options with regards to Kenyan dual citizenship

Dual citizenship for citizens of Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe has recently changed its dual nationality provisions to allow its citizens to hold multiple nationalities in certain circumstances.

Let us handle your complex dual citizenship case

This is a complex area and extreme caution should be exercised in applying for dual nationality when you are Zimbabwean. We suggest you seek professional advice before you proceed.

Don’t take any chances, speak to a British nationality expert about Zimbabwean dual nationality.

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