Processing time: 10 days
Every country has the sovereign right to decide who may or may not enter its territory. Possession of a visa does not guarantee automatic admission to the Republic. It only authorizes the holder to proceed to the Republic to report to an immigration officer at a port of entry for the purpose of being examined as to his/her ability or otherwise, to comply with the (entry) requirements of the Act.
The purpose of a visa on the one hand is to ensure proper screening of applicants so that undesirable persons are not admitted to the Republic and on the other hand to facilitate the entry of approved applicants at South African ports of entry. Visas provide immigration officers with the necessary information to ensure that applicants are admitted for the correct purpose and period into the RSA.
Any queries relating to visas are handled by the South African missions or representative office in your country or the nearest one situated to you. Visas are considered by the South African Missions Abroad and must be affixed in the applicants’ passports before departing to the RSA. Visas are not issued on arrival at South African ports of entry. Applicants arriving without visas will be refused entry into the RSA and placed on return flights in terms of legislation.
For more information, please select a topic below:
- Visa requirements (what to submit)
- Where to apply for a South African visa
- Medical visas
- To find out if you require a visa and/or pay South African visa tariffs, please see the list of countries exempt from visa control
Visa requirements (what to submit)
- Passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit.
- Passports must contain at least 1 (one) unused page for entry/departure endorsements (sometimes referred to as visa page).
- Payment of the prescribed fee, if applicable (see Countries exempt from visa control).
- A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act.
- Statement and/or documentation confirming purpose and duration of visit.
- Two (2) identity photographs (see specifications below).
- Proof of financial means in the form of:
- bank statements;
- salary advices;
- undertaking(s) by the host(s) in the Republic;
- medical cover;
- or cash available, including credit cards or travellers’ cheques to cover the living expenses during the sojourn in the Republic.
- Applicants traveling by air must be in possession of:
- a return or onward ticket; or
- proof of sufficient funds; or
- lodge a cash deposit of equivalent value to such a ticket.
You do not have to submit your application for a visa in person. Please see the answer to Frequently Asked Question 7 for more information.
Persons in transit
Transit Visa requirement has been suspended by the Minister of Home Affairs
Duration and purpose of stay
The period of residence in the RSA will be determined from the applicant’s date of admission to the Republic in accordance with any conditions that appear on the visa. On admission, the visa will be deemed to be a visitor’s permit. Applicants must ensure that they request the full duration of their intended visits under item 28 of the application form, as renewals are subject to additional fees.
Applicants must also ensure that they apply for the correct visa (transit or visitor’s) or temporary residence permit reflecting the true purpose of the visit, as any changes in the purpose of stay will only be approved in the RSA for good cause and if the requirements of the Act are complied with.
If the purpose of the visit is in respect of sabbatical; voluntary or charitable activities; research; joining or accompanying a spouse who is on a temporary permit in the Republic; work related activities for which a permit is not prescribed or visits that are longer than three months, the requirements prescribed under visitor’s permit must be met.
Any applicant allowed entry into South Africa due to any misrepresentation, or false declaration on the application form or who sojourns in the Republic in contravention of his/her visa/permit conditions shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment as an illegal foreigner.
Where to apply for a South African visa
- At the South African diplomatic or consular representative in the applicant’s country of normal residence, which includes permanent residence and long-term temporary residence.
- At the South African diplomatic or consular representative in the country of which the applicant correctly holds a valid passport.
- At the designated South African diplomatic or consular representative when a mission is not present in the applicant’s country of residence.
NB: Applications lodged at a place other than the above may be referred by the consular officer to the above offices which will imply a longer processing time.
Visas CANNOT be applied for at South African ports of entry.
Medical visas (visitor’s visas for medical treatment of less than three  months) A person wishing to receive medical treatment in the RSA must first apply for a visitor’s visa at the nearest South African Mission, if he or she is subject to South African visa control. Foreigners who are exempt from South African visa control may enter for the period for which they are exempt, provided that it does not exceed three months.
Foreigners who require medical treatment for a period exceeding three months must apply for a medical treatment permit.
Photographs must comply to the following specifications:
- two identical colour photos for passports
- two identical colour or black and white photos for IDs
- not more than one (1) month old
- 35mm in width and 45mm in height
- a close-up of your head and top of your shoulders so that your face takes up 70 – 80% of the photograph
- of high quality with no ink marks or creases and not damaged
- show you looking directly at the camera
- have appropriate brightness and contrast
- be printed on high-quality photo paper
- show your natural colour
- show your eyes open and clearly visible – no hair across your face
- show you facing square onto the camera, not looking over one shoulder (portrait style) or tilted
- show both edges of your face clearly
- be taken with a light grey or plain cream-coloured background
- be taken with uniform lighting and not show shadows or flash reflections on your face and no red-eye
- show you alone (no chair backs, toys or other people visible
The Director-General may reject the copies of the photographs if they do not, in his or her judgment, comply with the requirements mentioned above, or if he or she deem them unsuitable in other respects, in which case the person concerned shall provide two new copies at his or her own cost.
Identity document and passport photographs could be taken at regional or district offices equipped for this service, at a cost of R13-00 for a frame of four black and white photographs.
Passport / Travel Document Holders Who Are Exempt From Visas For South Africa
Subject To Change Without Notice
The citizen who is a holder of a national passport (diplomatic, official and ordinary) / travel document of the foreign countries / territories / international organisations listed below are not required to hold a visa when reporting to an immigration officer for an examination at a South African port of entry, subject to the terms and conditions set out in this list, including inter alia the intended period of stay in the Republic.
The holder of a national South African passport, travel document and document for travel purposes.
The citizen who is a holder of a national passport (diplomatic, official or ordinary) / travel document of the following countries / territories / international organisations is not required to hold a visa in respect of purposes for which a visitor’s permit may be issued or by virtue of being a person contemplated in section 31(3)(b) [diplomatic & official visit] for an intended stay of 90 days or less and when in transit:
- African Union Laissez Passer
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- St Vincent & the Grenadines
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man and Virgin Islands, Republic of Ireland, and British Overseas Territories
Note that a national of the following countries do require a visa: British Dependent Territories, including Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, Pitcairn, Henderson, St Helena, Ducie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Area of Akrotiri and Dhekelia and the Turks and Caicos Island.
- United States of America
The citizen who is a holder of a national passport (diplomatic, official and ordinary) / travel document of the following countries / territories / international organisations is not required to hold a visa in respect of purposes for which a visitor’s permit may be issued or by virtue of being a person contemplated in section 31(3)(b) [diplomatic & official visit] for an intended stay of 30 days or less and when in transit:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- Hong Kong [only with regard to holders of Hong Kong British National Overseas passports and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports]
- Macau [only with regard to holders of Macau Special Administrative Region passports (MSAR)]
- Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- Zimbabwe [only in respect of government officials, including police on cross border investigations]
Agreements have also been concluded with the following countries for holders of diplomatic and official passport holders.
Citizens who are holders of diplomatic, official and service passports of the following countries do not require visas in respect of purposes for which a visitor’s permit may be issued or by virtue of being a person contemplated in section 31(3)(b) [diplomatic & official visit] for the period indicated and transit:
- Albania (120 days)
- Algeria (30 days)
- Angola (90 days)
- Belarus (90 days)
- Bulgaria (90 days)
- Cyprus (90 days)
- Comoros (90 days)
- Croatia (90 days)
- Egypt (30 days)
- Guinea (90 days)
- Hungary (120 days
- Ivory Coast (30 days)
- Kenya (30 days)
- Mexico (90 days)
- Madagascar (30 days)
- Morocco (30 days)
- Mozambique (90 days)
- Paraguay (120 days)
- Poland (90 days)
- Romania (90 days)
- Rwanda (30 days)
- Slovak (90 days)
- Slovenia (120 days)
- Tanzania (90 days)
- Thailand (90 days)
- Tunisia (90 days)
- Vietnam (90 days)
Notwithstanding this Schedule, a foreigner whose visa exemption has been withdrawn shall comply with the visa requirements until notified by the Department that his or her visa exemption has been re-instated by the Department on petition or of its own accord.
Visas are not required by passport holders of Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi who are entering the Republic as commercial heavy-duty vehicle drivers provide their visits do not exceed 15 days and on condition that they can produce a letter confirming their employment with a transport company on entry.
Staff members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who travel on SADC laissez-passers are exempt from visa requirements for bona fide official business visits up to 90 days and transit.
Holders of United Nations (UN) laissez-passers are exempt from visa requirements when visiting the Republic for periods not exceeding 90 days for purposes for which a visitor’s permit may be issued, and for official business purposes and transits and when accredited for placement at a UN mission in the Republic for the duration of their accreditation. Volunteers attached to UN agencies and travelling on ordinary passports are exempt from visa requirements, provided they are in possession of the relevant letters or identification documents to identify themselves at ports of entry as personnel of an UN agency.