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South African visa: Requirements to apply and exempt countries

South African visa: Requirements to apply and exempt countries

South African visa: Requirements to apply and exempt countries

The South African Immigration Act has several short-stay visas available, depending on how long and for what purpose you are visiting the country. If you plan on swinging by, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the requirements. Tourist visas are valid for a stay of up to 90 days and granted on a number of conditions.

It’s also important to familiarise yourself for the requirements when travelling with minors. You will need an unabridged birth certificate and proof of guardianship or custody or consent from the guardian. More information can be found at the local South African embassy from where you are travelling.

Some countries are exempt from requiring a visa while others might offer a “visa on arrival”. These conditions can change, so check with your embassy to be sure before you travel.

South African visitors’ visas: the basics

  • visits to family or friends and also for tourism purposes
  • business purposes
  • the spouse to join a spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study visas
  • children to join parents who are in South Africa on work or study visas
  • study purposes
  • charitable or voluntary activities
  • research
  • conferences
  • to work in the production of a movie or show (i.e. in the entertainment industry)
  • or medical purposes, when a patient needs to receive life-saving treatment. (max stay three months)
  • sport events

Requirements for entering South Africa

The following applies regardless of whether you had to re-apply for a visa to visit South Africa.  

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  • A valid and acceptable passport or travel document for your intended stay
  • At least one blank page in your passport for endorsements
  • A valid visa, if required
  • Sufficient funds to pay for your day-to-day expenses during your stay
  • A return or onward ticket
  • Yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

Unabridged birth certificates for minors travelling to South Africa

The law came into effect in June 2015. It requires all minors under the age of 18 years are travelling to South Africa to provide an unabridged birth certificate, showing the particulars of both parents, in addition to their passport when exiting and entering South African ports of entry.

Documents required to apply for a visa

  • A passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of your intended visit
  • Your passport must have at least one unused page for entry/departure endorsements
  • A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa)
  • Payment of the prescribed fee
  • A yellow-fever vaccination certificate (if required)
  • Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit
  • Two colour passport photographs
  • A return or onward ticket if you are travelling by air
  • If you have children (minors) travelling with you or joining in South Africa, you will need to provide the following additional documents
  • Unabridged birth certificate
  • Proof of guardianship or custody or
  • Consent from the guardian in the case of an unaccompanied minor
  • Proof of financial means to pay for your living expenses while in South Africa in the form of:
  • Bank statements
Salary advances
Undertakings by the host(s) in South Africa Bursary
Medical cover or
  • Cash available (including credit cards and travellers’ cheques)

Countries exempt from needing to apply for a visa

Citizens from the following countries don’t need to apply for a visa to visit South Africa and will be issued with a visa for the maximum period of 90 days upon the arrival. Note: Subject to change without notice.

  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Portugal
  • Russia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tanzania
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Citizens from the following countries don’t need to apply for a visa to visit South Africa and will be issued with a visa for the maximum period of 30 days upon the arrival. Note: Subject to change without notice.

  • Angola
  •  Antigua and Barbuda
  •  Bahamas
  •  Barbados
  •  Belize
  •  Benin
  •  Bolivia
  •  Cape Verde
  •  Costa Rica
  •  Cyprus
  •  Gabon
  •  Guyana
  •  Hong Kong
  •  Hungary
  •  Jordan
  •  Lesotho
  •  Macau
  •  Malawi
  •  Malaysia
  •  Maldives
  •  Mauritius
  •  Peru
  •  Poland
  •  Seychelles
  •  South Korea
  •  Swaziland
  •  Thailand
  •  Turkey

Tags: South Africa travel and tourism visas & Immigration

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