Answer to a question from a reader

Home Affairs refuses to give us permanent residency even though we were born in South Africa, and our parents and siblings have permanent residency. What can we do?

The short answer

As you were both born in South Africa before 2014, you still automatically qualify for citizenship provided you have not lived anywhere else but South Africa.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

How can we get the documents we need to be accepted as South African citizens? My sister and I were born here and are both adults, but we do not have birth certificates with ID numbers. Our parents and two older siblings have permanent residency and non-citizen IDs.

The long answer

The South African Citizenship Act of 1995 was amended in 2010 and the amended version came into operation on 1 January 2013. It means that children of permanent residents born after October 2014 no longer qualify for automatic citizenship or permanent residency. It means that children born after October 2014 will need a visa from Home Affairs before applying for citizenship after they are 18 years old and have lived here all their lives.

As you were both born in South Africa before 2014, you still automatically qualify for citizenship provided you have not lived anywhere else but South Africa, and if your birth has been registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act of 1992. (This is in terms of the amended Citizenship Act.)

But if your birth was not registered under the Births and Deaths Registration Act, and thus you have no birth certificates with IDs, do you have proof that you were born here, like clinic cards or statements from a hospital?

Your parents could make affidavits confirming where and when you were born in South Africa. You would need to take this evidence and submit it to Home Affairs to apply for birth certificates under a late registration of birth. Even though you were both born before 2014 and so automatically qualify, you still need the birth certificates. As you are both older than 15 years old, you would also need to provide the following documents to Home Affairs (DHA):

  • Application for an ID (Form B1-9);

  • Completed Forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 for the registration of birth;

  • Supporting documentation like proof of birth, or clinic card, as well as written reasons why the birth was not registered within 30 days of birth;

  • Fingerprints of your parents;

  • Biometrics (fingerprints);

  • Certified copies of parents’ non-citizen IDs;

  • Proof of residence.

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) does have a specific hotline for enquiries about birth certificates and also a dedicated email address. These are:

But as you have already experienced difficulties with Home Affairs in obtaining the documentation you need, perhaps you should consult one of the following organisations that have had a great deal of experience in dealing with Home Affairs:


  • Lawyers for Human Rights (Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme (RMRP)

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960 

Cape Town: 021 424 8561 

Musina: 015 534 2203

Durban: 031 301 0531

Pretoria: 012 320 2943



  • Legal Resources Centre: 

Johannesburg: 011 836 9831



  • The Scalabrini Centre of Cape Town:


Tel: 021 465 6433.

You can also call their Legal Support Hotline on 066 076 8845.

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

Wishing you the best,

Answered on Feb. 9, 2023, 9:31 a.m.

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