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Understanding South Africa Visa Requirements

You’ve decided to take the plunge and book your flights to South Africa for the ultimate surf trip off the beaten path. Good on you! You’re in for one heck of a good time.

Before you board the plane, though, make sure you know whether you meet the visa requirements for entering South Africa. Luckily, our visa requirements aren’t incredibly strict and we’re known to be one of the easier countries to get into. That being said, there are a few countries that are subject to South African visa fees and processes.

Before you read any more of this article, click here to see if your country is exempt from visa requirements for South Africa. If it is, you’re sorted!

South Africa Visa Requirements
South Africa Visa Requirements

Not on the list of Exempt Countries?

Don’t be discouraged. Your dream surf trip is still in the pipeline (excuse the pun). All you need to do is contact your local South African consulate, and see what the requirements are for your country. Visa requirements differ from country to country. Read below for a more in-depth explanation.

What is a visa?

The South African Government describes a visa as follows: “Visitors’ visas are for international travellers (citizens of other countries) who have permanent residence outside South Africa and who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less.”

South African visitors’ visas may be granted for:

  • visits to family or friends and also for tourism purposes
  • business purposes
  • spouse to join a spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study permit
  • children to join parents who are in South Africa on work or study permits
  • fiancée/ fiancé to join his or her partner with the intension of marrying within 90 days
  • study purposes (max stay 3-months)
  • charitable or voluntary activities
  • research
  • conferences
  • to work in the production of an movie or show (i.e. in the entertainment industry)
  • for medical purposes (max stay 3-months)
  • sport events

How do I get a South African Visa?

Firstly, you’ll need to visit or call your nearest South African consulate to arrange a visa application appointment (or, find out how the application process works in your country). There will be a fee payable upon application or receipt of your visa. The fee is payable in your own currency.

You’ll need to take the following documentation with you:

Documents required to apply for a visa:

  • A passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of your intended visit
  • Your passport must have at least TWO unused page for entry / departure endorsements
  • A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa)
  • Payment of the prescribed fee
  • A yellow-fever vaccination certificate (if required)
  • Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit
  • Two colour passport photographs
  • A return or onward ticket if you are travelling by air
  • If you have children (minors) travelling with you or joining in South Africa, you will need to provide the following additional documents
    • Proof of guardianship or custody or
    • Consent from the guardian in the case of an unaccompanied minor
  • Proof of financial means to pay for your living expenses while in South Africa in the form of:
    • Bank statements
    • Salary advances
    • Undertakings by the host(s) in South Africa
    • Bursary
    • Medical cover or
    • Cash available (including credit cards and travellers’ cheques)

You’ll also need to have the following when entering South Africa:

Requirements for entering South Africa

  • A valid and acceptable passport or travel document for your intended stay
  • At least one blank page in your passport for endorsements
  • A valid visa, if required
  • Sufficient funds to pay for your day-to-day expenses during your stay
  • A return or onward ticket
  • Yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

How long will it take to get your visa?

Most websites seem to state between 4-6 weeks from the time your application is processed, to when you actually receive it. They may just be stating this for safety sake- you know, under-promise and over-deliver? So, it’s probably best to confirm how far in advance you need to apply with your local South African consulate or Department of Home Affairs.

We know it can seem like a lot to take in, but South African consulates are surprisingly helpful and efficient, so we’re told. Rest assured, you’ll be surfing your dream South African barrel in no time.

Information source: http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/applying-for-sa-visa