Citizenship hoops

citizenshipAt long last I have got around to sorting out the paperwork for getting British citizenship. At first it appears to be a fairly straightforward process:

Pay the Home Office £88 for a letter stating I do not hold British citizenship. On recipt of the letter submit the application for the retention of South African citizenship to the South African High Commission in London. With £25.  Once that application is confirmed, pay the UK Border Agency a large sum of money and submit 5 years worth of identity documents and proof of address.  Once citizenship has been granted, attend a citizenship ceremony to complete the legal process.  Bob’s your uncle and Betty your Queen – go apply for a passport.

Application for the retention of RSA citizenship is an application that MUST be made before one acquires foreign nationality. South African citizens who take up foreign citizenship without applying for retention of South African will lose their SA citizenship.

1. All forms must be completed in black ink
2. Completed BI-1664 form (PLEASE IGNORE QUESTION 8 OF THE FORM)
3. Completed bi-529 form. All South African Citizens who are abroad at the time of lodging an application must fully complete this form. The purpose of the form is to establish that as a South African Citizen you have not lost your Citizenship. PLEASE MARK N/A TO QUESTIONS THAT ARE INAPLICABLE. It is worth noting that questions 9 – 11 MUST be answered.
4. Certified copy of photo page of the passport. Applicants who will be applying in person will be assisted by the Consular staff with the certification of their documents.
5. Letter of non acquisition of British nationality; this letter should not be older than 3 months. Information on how to obtain non acquisition letter is available on this link:
6. Self addressed special delivery envelope with all postal applications.
7. Applicants must write their email address on all correspondence.
8. Processing fee of £25.00, Payment must be in the form of cash or postal order payable to SA High Commission.

Will keep you posted on how it goes.

[Update 23-01-2013] I have successfully applied and received the letter of non-acquisition of British citizenship (step 1) and have completed and posted the selection of forms and documentation for a certificate of retention of South African citizenship (step 2).  This takes 15 working days to complete so by the time we are back from South Africa I should have it.

[Update 27-01-2013] I received my certificate from the South Department of Home Affairs which gracefully allows me to retain my South Africa citizenship while applying for British citizenship.  And that was in four days instead of the advertised fifteen.  Which is nice.  So now the next step is to complete the UK Immigration forms once I am back from South Africa as my passport has to be submitted to the Machine and it may disappear for up to six months.

[Update 30-05-2013] This morning my passport and papers arrived back from the UK Border Agency.  My application for citizenship has been processed and approved.  Which is nice.  And it took less than three weeks.  I posted everything off on the 8th May.  Now I just need to wait for the invitation to the citizenship ceremony to start the next part of the process.  The passport is getting closer…

[Update 28-07-2014] Having had a number of queries about the process of getting the letter of non-acquisition of British citizenship and then the certificate of exemption from the South African High Commission I thought I would add some images of what mine look like.  So, you fill in this form and pay £88.  Then you’ll get a letter like this:

acknowledge-ukbaThen you may have to wait a while for them to send you back Page 2 of the Form NQ that you filled in earlier.  When you get that you send it to the South African High Commission following this process.  Mine came back pretty promptly and looked like this:

cert-saOnce you have that you can then start the process of applying for British citizenship and once you’ve got that you can get your passport sorted out.  Keep this certificate in a safe place.  You may need it when your current SA passport expires and you need a new one.

Remember you have to enter and leave South Africa on your South African passport and if you are leaving from and returning to the UK then I would just use the South African passport there too.  For destinations other than South Africa the British passport is probably easier.

50 thoughts on “Citizenship hoops”

  1. Hi Ross,

    Could I ask how long it took for you to receive the letter of non-acquisition of British citizenship from the forms off? We’ve been waiting for my wife’s for about 4 weeks now….


  2. Hi Robin,
    I got the letter from UK Immigration in about two weeks and the certificate from SA High Commission in less than a week. I have had previous dealings with UK Immigration and so have a personal reference number which I put on everything in the hope that they can then link all my visa applications together and get a full history.
    Best of luck with the application…

  3. Hi Robin,
    I would like your advice, since it seems you’ve been through this already!
    I’ve got my indefinite leave to remain already and I’ll be eligible to apply for citiznship in October this year.
    So when do you think is the best time to 1) get the letter of confirmation of non-British citizen and 2) apply for retention of south african citizenship.


  4. Zaakira,
    You need to have at least a 6-month period where you won’t need your passport as it disappears into the UK Border Agency. Getting your letter of non-acquisition of British Citizenship and then permission for retention of South African citizenship can be done quickly. Mine only took a few weeks. Once you have those you can then submit your application for citizenship and that can take up to six months. So September would be a good time to start the ball rolling.

  5. Hi Ross,

    I was wondering if you could help me please? On the confirmation of the non acquisition of British citizenship form part 2. It ask for Father’s Name, Nationality and Passport Number; whom’s details do I have to fill in there, is it my fathers details or my husbands details?

    Kind Regards,

  6. Hi Ross,

    Could you please help me? On the Confirmation of the non-acquisition of British citizenship, they are asking for Father’s name, Nationality and Passport Number. Must I fill in my Father’s details or my husband’s Father,

    Kind Regards,

  7. Hi Aidan,
    It is your father’s details they need so they can trace the family connections (presumably).

  8. Hi Ross

    Your blog is really helpful. If you wouldn’t mind I have a quick question. If I got my indefinite leave on 01/09/12 – does that mean I can start my citizenship application on 01/08/13 or do I need to wait until I actually get to 01/09/13 before I can send off?

    Secondly how long did your passport actually take to receive as I have heard 6 months but most people I know usually get it in 3?


  9. Hi Darren

    Your best bet is to check [] as things change all the time. See the residential requirements. You might be able to apply for citizenship sooner if you have been resident in the UK for five years before the date of your application.

    I ended up delaying my application due to moving house and jobs around that time and never having enough cash to do it. The actual process of applying for and getting citizenship took about three months (March – June) which included getting all the paperwork together. I am waiting for the formal citizenship ceremony to happen in the next two weeks. The British passport will come shortly thereafter – not sure how long it will take but things are pretty efficient here [I had to renew my SA passport a few years back and it was done in about 6-7 weeks].



  10. Hi Ross

    Thanks for a helpful page:)

    Quick question regarding the letter of non-acquisition of British citizenship.

    I am going to be paying by postal order,do I still need to fill in the payment slip form?And who do we make out the Postal order to?

    Its my first time paying by postal order so I don’t want to mess up

    Thanks again

    Take Care

  11. Hello Zainab,
    As far as I can remember the postal order needs to be £25 and made out to the South African High Commission. I seem to recall the post mistress filling in the form for me. The Post Office will charge a bit extra for paying by postal order. It’s pretty straightforward and the staff at the Post Office wil be able to help. South Africa House seems to be pretty efficient as I got mine back in about ten days. The whole process was remarkably quick and I am now filling in the forms for the British passport.
    All the best
    Link for reference:

  12. Hi Ross

    Many Thanks again

    Hopefully all will go smoothly with my application

    Take Care

  13. Hi Ross. Hope you well. I last sent you a message in April and it’s already September and time for me to apply for citizenship! I’m currently applying for my retention of SA citizenship and have a few questions.
    For reason for wanting to retain citizenship, what did you write? I’ve just said that I have my mum, siblings and other family and friends there as well as my late father is buried there so I want to visit them all. Do you think it’s a good answer?

    Also on the other form it asks: if you were absent from SA, state dates of departure. Did you put all the dates that you were away from SA since your move to the UK or only the first date that you left SA to come to the UK? I have visited SA a few times since I’ve moved here so I’m not sure which dates to write.

    I am going to the Embassy myself to physically give it as they say the certificate will be given on the same day over the counter. Hopefully I will get it!
    Thank you so much!

  14. Hello Zaakira,
    Your reason for retention of citizenship is fine – I said much the same thing – family, wanting to keep ties to SA, options to return, etc.
    The date of departure is the date you left SA and arrived in the UK on your (ancestral) visa.
    All the best with your submission (mine took 10 days by post to get back which is pretty quick).

  15. Hi Ross

    You may not know the answer, but I can’t find anyone who can help!

    I’ve misplaced my letter of Retention of SA citizenship. I got it about 4/5 years ago and now my SA passport has expired and the SA Home Office is asking for it.

    Any advice on how to obtain a copy??

    Thanks very much!

  16. Hi Kim,
    First you could try phoning the South African High Commission to see if they have a copy of your application on record and can reissue it.
    If that doesn’t work you will have to apply for a letter of non-aquisition of british citizenship ( and then reapply for retention of south african citizenship ( A pain to have to do it again though…
    All the best

  17. hi Ross,

    Thanks for all the great advice on this blog. I have received, back from the SA Commision, my citizen retention certificate. so thats great. i just wanted to know if i need to use that retention certificate in any way,when i apply for my british Citizenship(Form AN)? or is that certificate just there as proof to the SA side of things?
    I cant remember if Form AN asks me to submit my south african passport when i apply for British Citizenship.

    Any advice would be great.



  18. Hi Ross

    I send my 2 page forms for non-acquisition of British citizenship to the home office they send me back page 2 of the form with 2 letters saying that this would take 6 months, but on the bottom of the form i send them(page 2), they signed and stamped it saying i dont have british citezenship is that the letter that i have to send to the SA embassy?
    Or do i have to wait for another letter


  19. Hi Ross,

    This was an incredibly helpful read! Thanks! I have a question though, and it might be the dumbest one yet. My wife and I have both been on ILR now for just about a year. We have booked our English exams, and started completing the two BI-1664 and BI-529 forms for the SAHC to allow us to keep our SA citizenship. We’ve both completed a Form-NQ each and sent it off week before last.

    Today, we received one Form NQ back, stamped and signed, along with a standard letter saying “we’ve received your application … please allow 6 months for processing … etc.”.

    My question is: Is this stamped and signed Form-NQ we’ve received back, the “certificate” that we need paid £88 for, or is this just a confirmation letter? I googled and cannot find out anywhere what this Non Acquisition Certificate is
    meant to look like. Is this the form we’ve been waiting for?

    Kindest Regards,

  20. Hi Marlon,

    Sounds like you have the paperwork all sorted. Send page 2 to the SAHC with the other required docs and you’ll get a certificate back.

    The process may have changed a bit but I have the same letter acknowledging receipt of my application and I had a wait, but not six months, for the second part of the letter ( This I sent off to SAHC and got back my certificate of exemption from them. This was quite quick.

    All the best


  21. Hi Roelof,

    See my previous comment to Marlon who is going through the same process. Page 2 of Form NQ is what you need to send to SAHC with the other required forms. SAHC will send you a simple certificate on headed paper with a stamp, an embossed stamp and a signature on behalf of the Director General of Home Affairs.

    The £88 is for processing costs in the Homme Office. I think there is a £25-£30 processing fee at the SAHC for the certificate. Once you have that then you are good to go.

    I’ll post a copy of my certificate here shortly. Hope that helps.


  22. Many thanks for your diligence, help and advice. We wrote our PTE Enhlish exams today, and once we receive my wife’s p2 of the Form NQ back, we will go get the SA certificate done. Thereafter, with the PTE results we’ll take the last step!
    Thanks again!

  23. Hi, I was just wondering if you know whether the ‘retention of SA citizenship’ letter expires? I received mine years ago but then never applied to become a British Citizen. I now want to apply but am unsure if the original letter I have is still valid or if I need to apply for this again…..?


  24. Hi Ross, I have come across your website after searching the web now for two days. Thank you so much for all your advice. I have one question I hope you can help me with – does the form that you have on your website for requesting the non-acquisition letter from the UK apply for people who currently live in SA? I have noted the first couple of lines of the Form NQ (Part 1) which specifies “If you are a foreign or Commonwealth resident in the United Kingdom, and require confirmation for the authorities ……..” Your help would be greatly appreciated.

  25. Hi Beth,
    I don’t think so. Once you have your letter from the UK Border Agency and have applied for your certificate of exemption from the SA High Commission that’s it. You need to keep that certificate safe as you may need it again when your passport expires.
    Might be best if you try to get in touch with the Dept of Home Affairs or SAHC.

  26. Hi Ross,
    I need your help I am filling out confirmation of the non acquisition of British citizenship form for my 20 months old daughter and i want to know on page 1 can I sign on her behalf or i have to get her thumb impression?

  27. Guys what does the response of NQ form look like? any chance you can attach the image greying out your personal details?


  28. Hi Ross, Just came across your site – very informative and helpful. wonder if you could give me any ideas as to how to proceed with my problem, I’ve applied for the retention of my SA citizenship – got the non-acquisition of British citizenship from the UK border, posted the required documents to the SA Home Affairs in Whitehall on 17th February 2015 – until now, 26 March 2015 I’ve not heard from them and have tried by all means to contact them, but to no avail, I wish they could let me know what is happening. What can I try next? Please help, My passport also needs to be renewed this May. Really stressing out – Don’t know what to do for the best. Would really appreciate your kind attention.

  29. Hi, Thank you for the informative article.
    I am about to apply to UKBA with form NQ as above. We are a family of 4, all over 18 years old. Do you know if we can pay in one amount (£85 x 4, making one payment of £340), and put all applications with the one payment into one envelope or would it be better to apply in 4 separate posted envelopes with separate payments in each.
    Thank you

  30. Hi Carol,
    Thanks for your comments. You may well have got the paperwork back from SAHC in the last week but if you haven’t it could be on it’s way. I have just registered three children for SA birth certificates and the first two came back in two months and the third only came two months after that. Could be anything in the Dept of Home Affairs back in SA. Have you tried the number? +44 (0) 20 7451 7299 What I can do is send you an email address that may help.

  31. Hi Val,
    Thanks for getting in touch – I hope I can help. I think you should be able to do everything in one envelope with a suitable covering letter. I recently sorted out birth registrations and passport for three children. I had to send for the forms first and just sent one envelope with a covering letter asking for everything in triplicate. Once I had those I made the long and dangerous journey from Scotland to central London and processed everything in one long morning in SAHC. I had to supply individual stamped self addressed Special Delivery envelopes to allow for the return of the documents and certificates. Once the passports came back I asked them to send them all in one envelope (SAE SD) which they kindly did. So, I definitely think you could put everything in one envelope, detailed covering letter, maybe the four applications in plastic sleeves and a postal order for the full amount.

  32. Thanks for your response Ross – I’ve been trying the 02079258900 number because that was where I posted my application to but i’ll wait another week then try again with the other number and email. – hopefully it will all be OK . Take care and thanks again

  33. Hi Ross,
    Thank you for your advice and comments. I can imagine the cost and stress of your trip from Scottland to London.
    I think we’re all so scared to do something wrong with our applications because of all the threats on the websites that if there is an error etc you will be refused or not processed and payments will not be refunded.
    I have started stage 1 of the journey to obtain our citizenship (dual with SA).
    Thanks again.

  34. Hi Ross
    I found your blog very informative, especially since Im in the process of retaining my SA Citizenship. Just a quick easy question. Did you send the original Confirmation of Non-Acquisition of British Citizenship to the SA High Commission or a certified copy?
    Thank You

  35. Hi Ross
    I desperately need help please. Application for retention of SA citizenship. Question 9, Particulars of foreign citizenship to be acquired: Country …. (I filled in England) How to be acquired …. (I don’t know what to say there).
    Second form: Determination of citizenship status. They are asking for my mother and fathers id numbers and particulars. I only know there birth dates and when they both passed away. Other than that I dont have further information on them. Can you please advise me as soon as possible as I”ve just found your blog (thank you so much) and have 3 days to hand in forms.

  36. Please help! I am filling in the NQ form but am unsure about a few things. 1) it says Father’s name then nationality and passport number. Is it my nationality and passport number or my fathers’??
    2) do I fill in my biological father’s name or my adoptive father? Note I am getting citizenship through my biological father who is British but he is not on my birth certificate.
    3) My ID and passport are still on my maiden name- should i fill in my maiden name or married surname? I will be changing my ID and passport to new surname but want to send this form off asap so won’t be before I have changed my ID. Sorry for all the questions! Hope someone can help!

  37. Hi Nikola,
    I am not sure I can give you the answers you need. The first question: your father’s name, his nationality and his passport number. The second question: should be your biological father if he has the British passport but I’m not sure of the implications of him not being on your birth certificate. Best get some professional advice on that. The third question: I would imagine the names on the form need to match the names on your documents. Provide a copy of your marriage certificate to back-up any name changes.
    Have you tried calling South Africa house or spoken to an immigration consultant? they’ll be able to give you the definitive answer.
    Hope that helps.

  38. Hi Ross

    Just wanted to say your advice is incredibly helpful. I’m only at the beginning of the process, but I’m finding it all a bit confusing and a little stressful…I will most likely refer to your site quite often over the course of my application.

    I had a couple of questions, can I book my language test at any time or do I need to wait until I have received confirmation that I am not yet a British citizen?

    I have lost my life in the UK test, I have no idea what my test number is but I do have ILR – has anyone else had that problem and how was it resolved?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  39. Hi Michelle,
    Thanks for your comments.
    If you use the contact details on this page ( you may be able to get your test number back from them.
    As you have ILR already then do you need to sit an English language test? See for more information.
    You should just be able to complete form AN ( and start the process as you have already met a lot of the requirements through ILR. It has been a number of years now since I did all this and things have move on a lot since then – this is the best place to start ( and from the sounds of it your application should be reasonably simple.
    Hope that helps

  40. Hi again Ross,

    Which address do I send my letter of non acquisition of British citizenship to? There are two addresses on the SA High Commission website, one in Whitehall (SW1A 2DD) and Trafalgar Square (WC2N 5DP).

    Thanks in advance!

  41. You’re a legend…thanks so much for your help. I’ll be doing a postal application as I’m in Scotland. Not visiting London just for that.

    All the best,

  42. Reason for wanting to retain your South African Citizenship. What can I respond with to this question?

  43. Hi Tom,
    I seem to recall saying I wanted to keep it as I may move back to South Africa at some point in the future.

  44. Hi Ross,
    Your sire is extremely helpful but I have one question I hope you can help me with – does the form NQ Confirmation of non-acquisition British Citizenship apply to people who currently live in SA? I have noted the first couple of lines of the Form NQ (Part 1) which specifies “If you are a foreign or Commonwealth resident in the United Kingdom, and require confirmation for the authorities ……..” Your help would be greatly appreciated.

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