Visa policy of South Africa

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The visa policy of South Africa is how the South African government determines who may and may not enter South Africa. Visitors to South Africa must obtain a visa from one of the South African diplomatic missions unless they come from one of the visa-exempt countries, in which case they get a "Port of Entry Visa". Visitors who require a visa must apply in person and provide biometric data.[1]

all visitors must hold a passport that is valid for 1 month after departure and with one blank page (two if a visa is required).[2]

The South African Government announced that an e-Visa system would be introduced in February 2021.[3]

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed that South Africa's new electronic visa system will be piloted for Kenyan citizens from 1 November 2019,[4] and for Indian citizens from 1 April 2020.[5]

As of February 2020, South Africa added Tunisia to the visa-free exemption list.

On 25 March 2020, the South African government removed 12 countries and territories from its visa-free exemption list. Citizens from these countries previously did not have to pay any sort of visa fees but now have to do so until further notice. More countries may be added to the list of removed countries if the South African government feels like they are a risk. A statement from the Department of Home Affairs reads "Take note: visa exemptions for travellers from COVID-19 high and medium risk countries has been withdrawn temporarily until further notice."[6]

Visa policy map[edit]

Visa policy of South Africa
  South Africa
  Visa-free access to South Africa for 90 days
  Visa-free access to South Africa for 30 days
  Visa required for ordinary passports; Visa-free access for diplomatic, official and service passports
  Visa required for entry to South Africa for all passports

Visa exemptions[edit]

Nationals of the following countries can enter South Africa without a visa:[7][8]

90 days[edit]

Citizens of the following 55 countries/territories who hold valid national passports are allowed to stay in South Africa for up to 90 days without a visa:[9]

1 – Visa exemption applies for holders of ordinary passports only.
2 – The maximum stay is 90 days per year for ordinary passport holders; this limit does not apply to non-ordinary passport holders.
3 – The maximum stay is 90 days per year for all passport holders.

30 days[edit]

Citizens of the following 28 countries/territories who hold valid national passports are not required to obtain South African visas for visits of up to 30 days:

1 – Visa exemption applies for holders of ordinary passports only.
2 - The maximum stay is 90 days per year for ordinary passport holders; this limit does not apply to non-ordinary passport holders.

Non-ordinary passports[edit]

Citizens who are holders of diplomatic, official or service passports of the following countries do not require visas for visits of the indicated period and transit for up to 90 days (unless otherwise noted):

1 – 120 days
2 – 30 days

Visa exemption agreement was signed with Mali but not yet ratified.[18]

Eligible international organizations[edit]

Individuals holding the following travel documents are not required to obtain South African visas for visits of 90 days or less:

Staff members of SADC who travel on SADC laissez-passer are exempt from visa requirements for bona fide official business visits of 90 days or less and transit.

Visa types[edit]

Visas issued by South Africa are for:[19]

  • Tourism or visits to family or friends
  • Medical treatment
  • Working in the entertainment industry
  • Attending a conference
  • Treaty conditions compliance
  • Maritime crew
  • Cultural, economic and social exchange programmes
  • Transit

Temporary residence visas issued by South Africa are:[20]

  • Business visas
  • Work visas
  • Quota work visas
  • General work visas
  • Critical skills work visa
  • Intra-company Transfer Work visa
  • Corporate visas
  • Study visas
  • Exchange visas
  • Retired persons' visa
  • Relatives' visa
  • Medical Treatment visa

e-Visa system[edit]

The Department of Home Affairs announced during a parliamentary presentation on 18 February 2020 that a new e-Visa system would be introduced to simplify entrance into the country. The government department revealed that it had successfully trialled the e-Visa in Kenya, with further plans to extend this to India, Nigeria and China in the months following.[21]

The pilot trials were conducted in November 2019. The estimated time for an e-Visa application process would take 20 minutes, according to Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza, granted that all the relevant travel documents are readily available.[22]

Overstay consequences[edit]

It is a departure of a foreigner from South Africa on an expired visa that triggers an overstay.[23]

A foreigner who remains in South Africa beyond the expiry of his/her visa and has not applied for a valid status is an illegal foreigner in terms of the South African Immigration Act.[24]

An overstayer will upon departure be declared an undesirable person in terms of section 30(1)(f) of the Immigration Act.

  • A foreigner who has overstayed less than 30 days the validity of his/her visa will be declared an undesirable person and banned for a period of 1 year.
  • A foreigner who has overstayed more than 30 days the validity of his/her visa will be declared an undesirable person and banned for a period of 5 years.
  • A foreigner who overstayed twice in a period of 24 months (repeat offenders) will be declared and undesirable person and banned for a period of 2 years.

The ban does not simply expire over time and the restrictions placed against the foreigner need to be removed and/or the undesirability uplifted. An undesirable person does not do not qualify for a port of entry visa, visa, admission into the Republic or a permanent residence permit.

Minors[edit]

From 1 June 2015, all minors under the age of 18 travelling in and out of South Africa must hold, in addition to their passport, an unabridged birth certificate[25] with particulars of both parents. The requirement applies to both domestic and foreign citizens. If the child is travelling with only one parent, an affidavit with the absent parent's consent is required. If the child is travelling with another adult and without both parents, an affidavit with consent of both parents must be produced. An unaccompanied minor, in addition to holding an affidavit and birth certificate, must provide the requisite information of the local South African host.[26][27] The rule has been widely criticized by the tourism industry, but officials claimed that the rule was implemented to fight widespread human trafficking and unilateral child custody abuse in South Africa.[28][29] By October 2016 over 13,000 tourists had been prevented from entering the country due to the unabridged birth certificate requirement, thus having a negative impact on the economy.[30]

In September 2018 the Cabinet announced that they intend on scrapping this controversial requirement for children travelling.[31]

Visitor statistics[edit]

Most visitors arriving to South Africa were from the following countries of nationality:[32][33]

Country 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
 Zimbabwe 2,258,794 2,208,930 2,039,932 2,028,881 1,900,791 2,143,716
 Lesotho 1,563,448 1,739,188 1,747,211 1,757,058 1,394,913 1,501,642
 Mozambique 1,333,195 1,360,896 1,339,245 1,268,258 1,200,335 1,283,016
 eSwatini 917,631 883,735 876,992 893,618 835,006 918,490
 Botswana 668,315 688,566 681,379 679,828 593,514 555,590
 United Kingdom 436,559 430,708 447,901 447,840 407,486 401,914
 United States 373,694 376,892 370,747 345,013 297,226 309,255
 Germany 322,720 343,229 349,211 311,832 256,646 274,571
 Malawi 199,079 197,317 175,014 154,017 135,260 166,964
 Namibia 184,431 200,367 208,747 214,664 212,514 211,453
Total 10,228,593 10,472,105 10,285,197 10,044,163 8,903,773 9,549,236

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New visa rules will hurt tourism: DA – IOL News". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Department of Home Affairs – Exempt Countries". home-affairs.gov.za. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  3. ^ "The new e-visa for South Africa to launch after the pandemic". South Africa Visa. 2 June 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  4. ^ "The new e-visa for South Africa to launch after the pandemic". South Africa Visa. 2 June 2020. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  5. ^ "South Africa eVisa for Indians: Requirements and Application". South Africa Visa. Retrieved 24 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Department of Home Affairs - Exempt Countries".
  7. ^ "Countries exempt from South African Visas. Department of Home Affairs".
  8. ^ "Country information (visa section)". Timatic. International Air Transport Association (IATA) through Gulf Air. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  9. ^ "Department of Home Affairs - Exempt Countries".
  10. ^ "Concórdia". Concordia.itamaraty.gov.br. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Statement of Treaties and International Agreements Registered or filed and recorded with the Secretariat during the month of February 2010" (PDF). New York: United Nations. June 2010. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  12. ^ Edwards, Caryn (24 November 2017). "Angola-South Africa entry VISA free exemption a big boost for tourism, trade & investment in the Cape". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  13. ^ "South Africa soon to open visa-free door to Kiwis".
  14. ^ 外交部 (12 July 2017). "中華民國(台灣)外交部全球資訊網". 中華民國外交部 – 全球資訊網 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of China (Taiwan). Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  15. ^ Gschwind, RIC Media – Enrica Hölzinger,Patrick. "Visa & Consular – South African Embassy and Permanent Mission in Vienna". suedafrika-botschaft.at. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  16. ^ "DHA revokes visa free travel for New Zealand nationals, but that's just the beginning". 14 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Department of Home Affairs - Exempt Countries".
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Types of Visas". Department of Home Affairs.
  20. ^ "Types of Temporary Residence Visas". Department of Home Affairs.
  21. ^ Stanton, Maya. "South Africa to launch new e-visa scheme". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  22. ^ "South Africa is expanding its new e-visa system". Business Tech. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 28 October 2020.
  23. ^ Eisenberg, Gary (June 2018). "Immigration Attorney". Eisenberg & Associates. Eisenberg & Associates. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  24. ^ Department of Home Affairs. "South African Immigration Act" (PDF). DHA: Publications. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  25. ^ "Travelling with children to or from South Africa? Child Visa Checklist app helps". Drive South Africa. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  26. ^ "Unabridged Birth Certificates – Travelstart.co.za". travelstart.co.za. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  27. ^ "How to travel with children into and out of SA". enca.com. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  28. ^ "The sorry, messy unabridged birth certificate saga: SA front pages, 2015-05-22". Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  29. ^ Leadbeater, Chris (4 February 2016). "South Africa's new rules on travelling with children 'may deter families'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 8 March 2018 – via telegraph.co.uk.
  30. ^ "New visa rules: 13 000 denied entry into SA | IOL". Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  31. ^ "More details on South Africa's new visa rules revealed". Businesstech.co.za. 20 September 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  32. ^ "Tourism 2019, pages 11–14" (PDF). Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  33. ^ Africa, Statistics South. "Publication – Statistics South Africa". statssa.gov.za. Retrieved 8 March 2018.