Answer to a question from a reader

Can I get South African citizenship by descent if I was born in another country?

The short answer

Yes, but you may need to prove that you are the biological child of a South African citizen.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I was born in Lesotho and am a citizen. My mother is also a Lesotho citizen but my father is South African. They both live in Lesotho. Can I apply for South African citizenship by descent? I am currently in SA on a student visa.

The long answer

If you were born outside of South Africa to a parent who was a South African citizen at the time of your birth and your birth was registered under the South African Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA), you can apply for citizenship by descent.

But if your birth was not registered under the BDRA, you may have to prove that you are your father’s biological child by you and your father having DNA tests, as well as handing in all the forms that Home Affairs requires.

This is the list of documents required by Home Affairs in South Africa for an application for citizenship by descent: 

  • Completed BI-24 form to be endorsed by South African parent of child being registered;

  • Completed BI-529.  Child and South African parent;

  • Original or notarized copy of foreign birth certificate;

  • Original or notarized copies of South African parents' proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate, ID book, or valid passport;

  • Original or notarized copy of parents' marriage certificate;

  • Police report from country of origin as well as one from RSA (for applicant of 15 years and above);

  • An interview report for both the applicant and the South African parent (15 years and above);

  • Proof of Paternity / DNA tests (15 years and above).

If Home Affairs does require DNA tests, these would have to be legal tests which can be done at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). They have branches in all the provinces, but this is their Head Office address.  You could enquire about their rates at the following telephone or email address:

1 Modderfontein Rd, Sandringham, Johannesburg.

Tel: 011 386 6000


You could also ask for advice from one of the following organisations:


Helpline: 072 663 3739 or 063 610 1865


Tel: 021 465 6433


Tel: Musina: 015 534 2203 

Durban: 031 301 0531

Pretoria: 012 320 2943

Johannesburg: 011 339 1960

Cape Town: 021 424 856


Johannesburg: 011 836 9831

Cape Town: 021 481 3000.

Wishing you the best,

Answered on June 12, 2024, 11:29 a.m.

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