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I am a dual Swiss-South African citizen, and have been living in South Africa since July 2023 for studies. I learned before coming to SA that citizens are required by the Citizenship Act to enter SA with SA passports.

Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to apply for one in Switzerland and opted for an emergency SA passport instead, which I used to enter SA.

Now my problem is leaving :( I plan on leaving SA in March 2024 and thought that 8 months would be sufficient in getting a valid SA passport. Unfortunately, it was not.

I have applied for a passport and ID card, but was rejected because apparently I needed a parent on site at Home Affairs to sign some documents. My parents are back home in Switzerland, and cannot really afford to come here.

And this is why I am currently in full panic mode, because I have no idea how to leave SA. I can’t just leave with my Swiss passport because there’s no entry stamp in it. And technically by law as a SA citizen I must leave SA with a SA passport.

I have contacted the Swiss embassy and Home Affairs but still waiting for responses.

What do you guys think? Can I leave with my Swiss passport? Will I be blacklisted? What is my best course of action

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  • Do you still have your emergency SA passport?
    – user24582
    Dec 20, 2023 at 21:16
  • No, customs kept the emergency SA passport when I arrived in Joburg.
    – Adrian
    Dec 20, 2023 at 21:25
  • As you are a South African citizen, you cannot be blacklisted. At most, I would expect a fine, and at least a slap on the wrist.
    – Ozzy
    Dec 21, 2023 at 21:50

2 Answers 2

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You say you have contacted the Swiss Embassy for advice. Understandable, but I suspect they would just tell you they are not able to advise on your position with the South African Authorities. (Only the South African authorities will be able to give definitive advice on their laws).

I doubt that anyone reading this site is really qualified to say whether you will be blacklisted as you describe it. We can only have an opinion.

Have you tried phoning the South African immigration or border authorities at the airport you intend to fly out of, to ask them for advice on whether leaving on a Swiss passport will be a problem? A quick googlesearch gives this:

Contact details for all Department of Home Affairs offices can be found on the departmental website. Click on an office or region name to get the full details. Call centre: 0800 60 11 90.

Have you rung them?

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  • Thanks Elwyn for your comment. I have sent them an email. I'll wait and see what they recommend.
    – Adrian
    Dec 21, 2023 at 6:56
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    @Adrian I know young people are afraid of telephones, for some reason, but hoping a random civil servant will see, let alone answer, an email when you are in "full panic mode" is maybe not the best course of action... Have you tried talking to a human being...?
    – dda
    Dec 21, 2023 at 8:07
  • I cannot make any phone calls on my Swiss phone here and Home Affairs does not allow anyone into the building without a booking, which was particularly difficult to get. It took 4 months to get my first appointment… So unfortunately emails are my only option left…
    – Adrian
    Dec 21, 2023 at 8:21
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    Getting a local SIM card, making a phone call from another phone, etc. Email is most definitely not the only option...
    – dda
    Dec 21, 2023 at 8:28
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    I agree with other comments that e-mailing may not be a quick way of getting an answer to your question. You must surely be able to borrow a phone from someone. Why not ring Jo'burg airport and ask to speak to an immigration officer? Put your question to him/her. The airport switchboard appears to be: +27 (0)11 921 6773 or +27 (0)11 921 6242. The airport helpdesk is: +27 (0)11 921 6262. Ask to be put through to immigration (or for their direct number if they can’t put you through). If that doesn’t work try Cape Town airport etc till you succeed. Dec 21, 2023 at 12:10
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In most countries, this immigration bureaucracy is focused on keeping unwanted people out rather than preventing people from leaving. To me it seems unlikely that you'd have major problems with leaving, but I've never been to South Africa so can't be sure.

I suggest the following: Go to the airport and try to find somebody who can answer questions about leaving South Africa..

My guess is that in practice you'd be fined some amount of money for leaving without an entry stamp, but you wouldn't have other problems.

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    Many countries do check that you kept to the visa rules and ban you when you have broken the rules. And once one country bans you you might find it harder to get visa for other countries. On top of that do so some countries make leaving hard is you have overstaid.
    – Willeke
    Dec 21, 2023 at 15:01

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