I am traveling to England from South Africa with my 3 daughters. I am British; my daughters were born in South Africa, but all have British and South African passports. We have realized that my eldest daughter's South African passport will expire 33 days after entering the UK, but we will return to South African 3 days before it expires. Her British passport is valid for 10 years.

Will be a problem? Should I just use her British passport, or is this not allowed? If I did use her British passport to leave and re-enter South Africa, will there be visa issues and would I have to show a return ticket to Britain?

I can't find a definite answer. SA home affairs and the British passport office think it should be fine, but British Airways think that her South African passport must have at least 6-months validity when we leave for Britain.

  • 13
    "her South African passport must have at least 6-months validity when we leave for Britain": she might need six month's validity if she were using it to enter Britain as a South African citizen, but she won't be. She'll be using her British passport to enter Britain as a British citizen. She's using the South African passport only for leaving and reentering South Africa, and for that there should be no six-month requirement.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:10
  • A potential concern is if, through illness or other reason, the return to South Africa is delayed by a few days, she may have issues trying to re-enter the country on an expired passport.
    – Gary Myers
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


As far as I can find on the net, neither South Africa nor the UK have any problems with dual nationality acquired at birth, so you don't need to be particularly hush-hush about it.

Bring both sets of passports and present

  • To border guards of one of the two countries: The passport of that country.
  • To everyone else, including airline agents: The passport of the country you're traveling towards.

and have the other one ready to show too if someone questions whether the one you show will support your entire itinerary.

Remember that immigration rules generally apply to whole persons, not to a particular passports of theirs. As a citizen of both countries, your daughter has a (near) absolute right to travel back and forth between them, as long as she has valid documents to show those citizenships.

Rules that a passport must be valid for so-and-so long after a trip generally apply when you're entering a different country than the one you're a citizen of. Basically they want to be sure that if they need to send you back, they can do so without complaints from your home country that the passport isn't valid anymore. However when you're a citizen of the country you're entering that is not a concern -- they will not be sending you back involuntarily anyway.

  • 4
    Just to note - she must re-enter ZA on her ZA passport otherwise she will be regarded as a UK tourist in her home country.
    – brhans
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 14:27
  • @brhans and I thought such insanity exists only in third world countries like where I came from, thank God a British citizen is allowed to enter the UK even without a passport.
    – Ulkoma
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:19
  • @Ulkoma - you'd need to present some kind of evidence that you are a citizen of the country you're trying to re-enter or return to - even for the UK. This is pretty much a universal principal - "first" world, "third" world - anywhere. A passport is the standard accepted way of doing this. I'd imagine that a ZA citizen could re-enter ZA using their identity document instead of a passport, but this would probably be a significant hassle.
    – brhans
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    @brhans I aware of that but I meant that I can't imagine the government in the UK to charge me for over staying AFTER I enter the country using an other passport if I don't go throw with convincing the boarder control that I am a British citizen who lost his British passport. Where I came from the would allow me to enter using my British passport then charge me money and I can even go to prison for over staying in my home country, I thought it's the same in ZA
    – Ulkoma
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 15:44

If she's entering South Africa on a South African passport, the fact there are only 3 days of validity left shouldn't matter, as she is a national and therefore has a right to enter the country. If the only issue is how to get onto the flight, and they don't accept a valid SA passport, you could always board the flight using the British passport (which you don't need a visa for), and then present the SA passport at SA immigration - there's no need to show the same passport at immigration that you used to board the flight. Both the UK and South Africa allow dual nationality (with the proviso that you must use your SA passport to enter South Africa), so there is no problem with having both passports on you.

She should only show the South African passport to South African officials - if asked how she will enter the UK without a visa or anything then present the British passport as well, however make sure that he South African one is presented to avoid any possible accusation of attempting to enter or leave the country on a non-SA passport.

  • 2
    The airline shouldn't have their own rules for passport validity. If a passport is good enough for the South African government, it should be good enough for the airline: specifically, if a South African can enter South Africa using a passport that expires in a few days (which they surely can), then any airline should allow that person to board a flight to South Africa. Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 17:38
  • @DavidRicherby: As I understand it, airlines are "on the hook" financially if they deliver you to a country that then doesn't let you in, which means that they'll err on the side of not transporting you if they think there's a risk of that. (But in the OP's case, where the traveler has a still-valid passport for the destination country, I don't think any airline would be concerned.)
    – ruakh
    Commented Jun 20, 2017 at 23:48

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