It is however imperative for South Africans to be mindful when applying for another country’s Citizenship that they do not unknowingly renounce their South African Citizenship. Consequently, the most prominent hurdles in obtaining dual citizenship have become the 1) retention of SA Citizenship 2) application for foreign Citizenship and 3) physical and / or financial emigration. Here is a quick look at the differences:
What is Dual Citizenship
Dual Citizenship is the right to become a citizen of more than one country. It sounds fairly straight-forward, but South Africans need to apply to keep their South African Citizenship. Many first world countries no longer allow individuals to keep Dual Citizenship with other countries.
Countries like Singapore, China, Japan, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have become firm favourites with South Africans looking to earn a foreign income. However, none of these countries make provision for Dual Citizenship.
While the act of having dual nationality can hold many rewards, it can also create a tax maze and have other, more complex, implications to consider.
Can I Lose My Citizenship?
While South Africa allows its citizens to hold Dual Citizenship, it’s important to understand the requirements and the correct way of applying for it. For instance, you must first apply to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) to request retention of your SA Citizenship before applying for foreign citizenship. Where this step is not completed, you will automatically lose your SA Citizenship.
This section of the Citizenship Act is currently being put to task because it is believed to be unconstitutional. Whether this is true or not, thousands of South Africans lose their Citizenship every year without knowing.
If you have already lost your Citizenship, it is a complex and onerous process to get it back again. One of the ways to reclaim or resume your Citizenship, is that you will be required to move back to South Africa on a permanent basis and then make application to the DHA in accordance. This can be a massive setback for professionals who were under the impression that they indeed have Dual Citizenship and already made the big move.
Physical- and Financial Emigration
Emigration is the act of moving away from a country. It’s important to note the difference between Physical Emigration and Financial Emigration, as these are two entirely separate matters, and you can do one without necessarily having to do the other.
What is Physical Emigration?
Although Physical Emigration indicates the act of packing your bags, jumping on the first flight and leaving South Africa, it requires a decision on whether you would like to take up Residency or Citizenship of the country you are relocating to. Where you do decide to apply for Citizenship, there is the all-important further decisions of whether you would like Dual Citizenship (where allowed) or give up your SA Citizenship. As noted earlier, where you intend to retain SA Citizenship you must initiate the process with the DHA before applying for other Citizenship. This can be a daunting and uncertain process and many are unfamiliar with the steps, resulting in them not properly concluding this process.
What is Financial Emigration?
Financial Emigration is the process of cutting financial ties with South Africa. This means that, for exchange control purposes, the South African Revenue Services (SARS) changes your residency status from resident to non-resident. Because SARS requires a tax clearance certificate before considering financial emigration, it is wise to consult a specialist who can help you with this procedure.
Always remember that, through financially emigrating, you do not alter your status as a South African Citizen.
How can we help?
Our service offering includes extensive expat tax assistance, work visa services and international travel permit applications. More often than not, complications hinder the financial emigration process. We are there to help expats with all their emigration woes.
Regardless of what your needs might be, or which of the above scenarios would best suit your situation, be sure to partner with someone who knows the legal and technical ins-and-outs of working abroad.