Answer to a question from a reader

Home Affairs is refusing to renew our daughter's passport, yet we are Permanent Residents. What can we do?

The whole question

My husband and I are both foreigners, but we are Permanent Residents in South Africa. Our daughter was born after October 2014. After one week, we got her an unabridged birth certificate with an ID number. One year later, we went to Home Affairs to apply for a South African passport. We were told that if the child of foreigners was born after October 2014, even if they are Permanent Residents, it means that the child is not automatically born as a South African citizen. But since they already granted my daughter an ID number on her birth certificate, we could still apply for a South African passport for her. We got her first South African passport in 2015.

Her passport would have expired in six months, so we went to Home Affairs again to renew her passport. But this time they rejected us and gave the reason that my daughter's birth date is after October 2014, meaning that they will no longer give her a South African passport. We were told that even if she has an ID number on her birth certificate, she will not be granted an ID when she turns 16 years old. We were advised to apply for her passport in our original country's embassy. But the embassy also rejected my daughter's passport application, since our country doesn't admit dual nationalities.

Now, we have no idea what is the next step is, since both sides are not admitting her nationality. What can we do?

The long answer

As you know, the amendments to the Citizenship Act which came into force in 2014 mean that your daughter is no longer granted permanent residence automatically due to your Permanent Resident (PR) status, but needs a visa to be legal. In terms of the amended law, she can apply for citizenship after she turns 18, provided that she has lived in South Africa all her life and her birth has been officially registered.

As you say, your original country also refuses to give her a passport since she has a South African ID number, and neither country allows dual nationality.

Given that her passport is due to expire shortly, it would be best to get legal help from one of the organisations which have a lot of experience in dealing with Home Affairs, which is so often difficult and unhelpful.

Here are the contact details of organisations which you could approach for assistance:

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960, Cape Town: 021 424 8561, Musina: 015 534 2203, Durban: 031 301 0531, Pretoria: 012 3202943. 

For more information on the constitutional rights of children born to non-South African parents: Liesl Muller at 011 339 1960 or email



Tel: 021 465 6433. You can also call the Legal Support Hotline on 066 076 8845. 

To get in touch with their Advocacy Programme, you can call 0782603536 or send a please-call. This is operational between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday.




Johannesburg: 011 836 9831

Cape Town: 021 481 3000

Answered on Oct. 6, 2020, 12:01 p.m.

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