Want to visit South Africa? Here's information on the basic requirements for entering South Africa, as well as comprehensive information on visas - what they are, who needs them, and when, where and how to apply for them.
Please note: This is a starting guide only. Requirements for entry into South Africa differ from country to country, are subject to change, and each application is treated as an individual case. Always make inquiries before travelling to South Africa.
What's a visa?
South Africa has the right to decide who may and who 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.
A valid acceptable passport or travel document good for a sufficient period to cover the intended stay.
A valid visa, if required.
A return or onward ticket.
Yellow fever certificates are required if the journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.
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, visa requirements (what to submit), requirements for people in transit, duration and purpose of stay, medical visas and photographs.
What if I want to stay in SA 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 Department of Home Affairs office in SA. You should do this well BEFORE your permit expires.
What if I plan to work or study in SA?
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.
Get your visa before leaving for SA
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.