Yesterday I finally started the multistep process of applying for my British passport. Admittedly I could have bypassed a few of the steps if I decided to go 100% pomme and give up my South African citizenship but what I learned from my father’s experiences is that you should never give up citizenship of your home country, even if it is a pain.
Fortunately the UK and South Africa are relatively chilled about dual nationality, although they have slightly different approaches, which I will explain through the analogy of marriage.
Being a British citizen is a bit like being in an open marriage. They don’t care who else you’re having it off with. They don’t want or need to know about it, just as long as you know that if you get into hot water with one of your other partners, they’re not going to bail you out. So if you get yourself into trouble in a country where you’re a citizen, the British High Commission will not provide you with any assistance.
The South African government have approached it a bit more like the South African president has approached marriage. It doesn’t matter if you want to have lots of wives but you have to make it proper and official and get the right paperwork. President Zuma is moving onto his fourth official wife. Luckily I only want to have two nationalities…
Before you can request permission to retain South African nationality you have to get a piece of paper from the UKBA that says you don’t already have British nationality. It’s a simple process. You fill in a piece of paper and send it off to Liverpool and then they send you back some kind of certificate. I have to admit that as I put my form in the post yesterday morning I was a little puzzled by its bonkers sexism since it required me to fill in the name of my husband and father. Had I have been married to a woman, I would not have had to fill in my wife’s name and there was no mention of my mother.
I am expecting said certificate to be printed in gold leaf as I had to pay £88 for it.
Step two will be presenting my shiny gold certificate to the UK branch of South African home affairs, stay tuned for that exciting instalment (in approximately 10 working days)…