Visiting South Africa: visas
Want to visit South Africa? Here's information on the basic requirements for entering South Africa, as well as links to full information on visas – what they are, who needs them, and when, where and how to apply for them.
NOTE: Requirements for entry into South Africa differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Always make inquiries before travelling to South Africa.
- What's a visa?
- What are requirements for entering South Africa?
- Do I need a visa to visit South Africa?
- Where can I make inquiries about visas?
- How do I go about getting a visa?
- What's the difference between a visa and a temporary residence permit?
- What if I want to stay in South Africa for longer?
- What if I plan to work or study in South Africa?
- Get your visa before leaving for South Africa
What's a visa?
South Africa has the right to decide who may and may not enter its territory. A visa ensures that you are properly screened before entering the country, and gives immigration officials the information they need to ensure you are admitted to South Africa for the correct purpose and length of time.
A visa doesn't guarantee you entry to the country – it only allows you to proceed to a South African port of entry, where an immigration officer will check that you satisfy the basic requirements for entry into the country.
What are the requirements for entering South Africa?
- A valid acceptable passport or travel document good for a sufficient period to cover your intended stay.
- A valid visa, if required.
- Sufficient funds.
- A return or onward ticket.
- At least one blank page in your passport for endorsements.
- Yellow fever certificates are required if the journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.
Do I need a visa to visit South Africa?
Depending on your nationality, and the purpose and duration of your visit, you may not need a visa to visit South Africa.
Where can I make enquiries about visas?
- See the Department of Home Affairs' immigration services page.
- Check the list of South African offices abroad for information on where to apply in your own country.
- Home Affairs contact centre: +27 11 461 9252 (overseas callers), 0800 60 11 90 (within SA), firstname.lastname@example.org
How do I go about getting a visa?
The Department of Home Affairs' website will give you the lowdown on visa costs, processing time, where to apply, what to submit, requirements for people in transit, as well as information relating to your duration and purpose of stay, medical visas, and photographs.
What's the difference between a visa and a temporary residence permit?
A visa allows you to proceed to a South African port of entry. A temporary residence permit will be issued to you at the port of entry. It replaces your visa, and regulates the duration and purpose of your stay in South Africa.
- Types of temporary residence permit
- Applying for temporary residence
- Download a temporary residence application form
What if I want to stay in South Africa for longer?
It is best to request the full duration of your intended visit when you first arrive, as extensions are subject to additional fees. If you wish to extend your stay further, you must keep your temporary residence permit valid by applying for an extension at your nearest Home Affairs customer service centre in South Africa. You should do this well before your permit expires.
What if I plan to work or study in South Africa?
If you intend to be professionally active in South Africa or to undertake any voluntary or paid employment or studies, you must apply for a work, work-seeker's or study permit. These permits are also issued outside South Africa, and function as valid visas in allowing their holders to proceed to a South African port of entry. (In other words, if you're applying for one of these permits, you do not have to apply for a visa separately.)
Get your visa before leaving for South Africa
If you are subject to visa requirements, you should apply for your visa at least four weeks before your departure for South Africa, and await the outcome of your application before departing. Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry, and airline officials are obliged to insist on visas before allowing passengers to board. If you arrive without a visa, immigration officials are obliged by law to refuse you entry to South Africa and to place you on a return flight to your country.
Source: SAinfo reporter and the Department of Home Affairs
Reviewed: 18 February 2013
Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material