Visa policy of South Africa

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Exit stamp for South Africa to a national of Singapore

The visa policy of South Africa is how the South African government determines who may and may not enter their country. 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 what is called 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 valid for 1 month after departure and with one blank page (two if a visa is required).[2]

South African Government announced that an eVisa system would be introduced in November 2019.[3]

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:[4][5]

90 days[edit]

Nationals of the following 52 countries/territories who hold valid national passports are not required to obtain South African visas for visits of up to 90 days:

1 – for ordinary passport holders only.
2 – the maximum stay is 90 days per year.
3 – for British Citizens, British Overseas Territories citizens and British Nationals (Overseas) (30 days) only.

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 – for ordinary passport holders only.

Diplomatic, service and official 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.[14]

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:[15]

  • 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:[16]

  • 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

Overstay consequences[edit]

According to the amended South African Immigration Act 13 of 2002, foreign nationals overstaying the expiry of their South African visas will be determined “undesirable” and, consequently, face being banned from the Republic for a period of up to 5 years.[17]


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[18] 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.[19][20] 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.[21][22] 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.[23]

In September 2018 the Cabinet announced that they intend on scrapping this controversial requirement for children travelling.[24]

Visitor statistics[edit]

Most visitors arriving to South Africa were from the following countries of nationality:[25][26]

Country 2017 2016 2015 2014
 Zimbabwe 2,039,932 2,028,881 1,900,791 2,143,716
 Lesotho 1,747,211 1,757,058 1,394,913 1,501,642
 Mozambique 1,339,245 1,268,258 1,200,335 1,283,016
 eSwatini 876,992 893,618 835,006 918,490
 Botswana 681,379 679,828 593,514 555,590
 United Kingdom 447,901 447,840 407,486 401,914
 United States 370,747 345,013 297,226 309,255
 Germany 349,211 311,832 256,646 274,571
 Namibia 208,747 214,664 212,514 211,453
 France 196,165 154,226 128,438 131,502
Total 10,285,197 10,044,163 8,903,773 9,549,236

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "New visa rules will hurt tourism: DA – IOL News". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  2. ^ "Department of Home Affairs – Exempt Countries". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ "Countries exempt from South African Visas. Department of Home Affairs".
  5. ^ "Country information (visa section)". Timatic. International Air Transport Association (IATA) through Olympic Air. Retrieved 1 April 2017.
  6. ^ "Southern Africa: Mozambique and South Africa Extend Visa Waiver Period". 20 April 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2018 – via AllAfrica.
  7. ^ "Concórdia". Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  8. ^ "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.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Saudi Embassy ZA on Twitter: "ؼؚ٠اإ Ř§Ů„Ů…ŮˆŘ§ŘˇŮ†ŮŠŮ† Ř§Ů„ŘłŘšŮˆŘŻŮŠŮŠŮ† من تأشيع؊ Ř§Ů„ŘŻŘŽŮˆŮ„ ؼلى ŘŹŮ†ŮˆŘ¨ ؼ٠عيقياđ&#x;‡żđ&#x;‡Śđ&#x;‡¸đ&#x;‡Śâ€Ś "". 2 August 2019. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Gschwind, RIC Media – Enrica Hölzinger,Patrick. "Visa & Consular – South African Embassy and Permanent Mission in Vienna". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  13. ^ "New Zealand travellers now need visas to enter SA – DHA". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 February 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2019. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Types of Visas". Department of Home Affairs.
  16. ^ "Types of Temporary Residence Visas". Department of Home Affairs.
  17. ^ "Overstay Visa South Africa". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  18. ^ "Travelling with children to or from South Africa? Child Visa Checklist app helps". Drive South Africa. Retrieved 15 October 2015.
  19. ^ "Unabridged Birth Certificates –". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  20. ^ "How to travel with children into and out of SA". Retrieved 8 March 2018.
  21. ^ "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. Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  22. ^ Leadbeater, Chris (4 February 2016). "South Africa's new rules on travelling with children 'may deter families'". Retrieved 8 March 2018 – via
  23. ^ "New visa rules: 13 000 denied entry into SA | IOL". Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  24. ^ "More details on South Africa's new visa rules revealed". 20 September 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  25. ^ "Tourism 2017, pages 37–44" (PDF). Retrieved 27 August 2019.
  26. ^ Africa, Statistics South. "Publication – Statistics South Africa". Retrieved 8 March 2018.