How to apply to retain my South African citizenship?

The simple answer to this question of “How to apply to retain my South African citizenship?” is you must get a letter of retention, which is issued by the department of Home Affairs. To get this letter, you must complete the BI-529 and DHA BI-1664 forms and provide a copy of your current South African passport. Let’s explore:

To apply to retain your South African citizenship, you must submit an application to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) before acquiring foreign citizenship. The application process involves completing forms, providing supporting documentation, and paying a fee.


To be eligible to retain your South African citizenship, you must be:

  • A South African citizen aged 18 years or older
  • Not have acquired foreign citizenship yet

Application Process

  1. Complete the Application Form: Download and complete the BI-1664 form, which is the Application for Retention of South African Citizenship.
  2. Gather Supporting Documents: Collect the following supporting documents:
    • Completed form BI-529 (Retention of South African Citizenship)
    • Certified copy of your South African passport
    • Proof of your permanent residency in the country where you intend to acquire foreign citizenship (if applicable)
    • Sworn affidavit stating that you have not yet acquired foreign citizenship
  3. Pay the Application Fee: Pay the prescribed application fee at a designated DHA office or through an authorized payment channel.
  4. Submit the Application: Submit the completed application form, supporting documents, and proof of payment to a DHA office in person or by courier.

Processing Time

The processing time for applications to retain South African citizenship can vary depending on the workload of the DHA. However, it is generally between 6 to 12 months.

Additional Considerations

  • Dual citizenship is not automatically granted. The DHA will assess your application and determine whether you meet the requirements for retaining your South African citizenship.
  • If your application is approved, you will be issued with a letter of retention, which confirms your right to retain your South African citizenship.
  • It is advisable to apply to retain your South African citizenship before acquiring foreign citizenship to avoid any complications.