Visa requirements for South Africa


Citizens from 52 countries do not need a visa to enter South Africa for tourist or business purposes that take less than 90 days. That makes it easy to photograph the country’s wildlife, eat biltong and bunny chow, see where two oceans meet, and Nelson Mandela at the 27th. to commemorate Madiba’s Journey sites, one for each year he was imprisoned for fighting apartheid.

What you need to know about visas for South Africa

Visitors with passports from countries like the United States, Great Britain, Canada and many European countries are exempt from the visa requirement for South Africa if they meet certain conditions. Keep in mind, however, that requirements can change quickly. South Africa is in the process of updating its visa system and switching to an electronic visa application process. It is advisable to check this out Republic of South Africa website, the South African embassy or consulate in your country (such as South Africa’s US Embassy) as well as your government’s international travel advice site (such as the U.S. Department of State) before booking your flight and shortly before your departure.

Remember that regardless of whether you have a valid visa or are exempt from the requirement, the immigration authorities at your port of entry will decide whether you are allowed to enter the country and how long you can stay and what conditions you need to be aware of.


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The opportunity to photograph South African wildlife awaits © Matthew Micah Wright / Getty Images

Countries exempt from the need for a South African visa

When you travel with one Passport from the USA, United Kingdom or Canada, You do not need a visa to visit South Africa as long as your trip is for tourist or business purposes and does not exceed 90 days. You will need a ticket showing your return journey from South Africa, meet some passport requirements, and provide other documents depending on where you are traveling from.

If you want to work during your stay, you will need to apply for a work visa. The government of the Western Cape Province is South Africa Lobbying for a one-year remote work visa – ideal for digital nomads who want a longer stay. So far there is no news as to whether this Working Holiday Visa will be created for the whole country.

Passport requirements for all visitors to South Africa

According to South Africa’s immigration regulations, your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your planned departure date. However, it is known that both airlines and immigration authorities insist that this period of validity is six months. Play it safe and make sure that the expiration date of your passport is at least six months after the date you intend to leave South Africa to ensure that you are not denied boarding on your flight or sent back after you arrive in South Africa .

You also need to check that you have enough blank passport pages. For every entry into South Africa you must have two blank pages that must be consecutive. These blank pages must be marked with “Visa” (instead of “Notes”, “Changes” or “Comments”).

Couple sightseeing on rental bikes in Cape Town
To enjoy the sights in South Africa, make sure your passport is valid for at least 30 days past your planned departure date from the country © Alistair Berg / Getty Images

Other required documents

Even if you are exempt from the visa requirement, you will need proof of onward travel stating that you will not be staying in South Africa for more than 90 days. There are also health requirements, both currently for COVID-19 and for other diseases. South Africa requires proof of a yellow fever vaccination, for example if you are in one of the Countries classified as at risk of yellow fever by the World Health Organization during the 10 days prior to arrival in South Africa. This includes several African countries such as Kenya, but also countries such as Argentina and Panama.

The visa process for South Africa

There are a few countries for those who need a visa entitled to apply for the new South Africa e-Visa. (More countries are to be added in 2022.) Other passport holders must apply for a visa at the South African embassy or consulate in their home country. You will likely need to come by in person and bring it with you South Africa Visa Application Form (filled in in black ink), two passport photos plus additional documentation. The fee depends on your passport, the type of visa you are applying for and the length of your stay.

Visas for South Africa can be extended. Applications and fees can be submitted to any of the dozen Visa Facilitation Centers in the country. Fines will be charged for staying beyond the permitted date, even if you are exempt from the visa requirement.

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