If you are thinking of visiting South Africa it is important to be sure that you are informed about the latest visa regulations. Most people visit South Africa as tourists or for business purposes and enter the country on a tourist visa.
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Tourist visas are not available at South African ports of entry so if you require a visa you must apply for it in advance of your journey. These days South Africa has excellent diplomatic relations with countries all over the world and as a result there is a long list of countries that are exempted from visa requirements as long as their visitors intend to stay for a maximum of 90 days or less. This list is subject to change from time to time so it is wise to check with your nearest South African Embassy or the Department of Home Affairs before you travel.
While the majority of exempted countries allow for a 90-day stay, some only allow for 30. These include passport holders of a number of African nations along with those from Turkey, Poland, Cyprus, Slovak Republic, Hong Kong and several others.
The 90-day maximum may be extended by a further term of up to 90 days once you are in the country. This should be applied for at the nearest Department of Home Affairs office at least 30 days before the expiry of your permit and it is important to note that extension is not automatic – it is at the discretion of the Department of Home Affairs’ representative so it is always good practice to be courteous and well presented when you visit!
There are many study and work opportunities available in South Africa. If you intend to enter on this basis, or if you are not a passport holder of one of the exempted countries, you will need to apply for a visa. This may be applied for in person or by post from your nearest South African Embassy or Consulate. Generally you will need the following documentation:
– A passport with validity for at least 30 days beyond the end of your proposed visit and at least clear page in order to accommodate your entry and exit stamps
– A completed visa application form. This form will depend on the type of visa for which you are applying but generally tourists or business visitors will need to use form BI-84
– Payment of the visa issue fee at the current published rate
– A yellow fever vaccination certificate
– Documentation and/or a statement regarding the purpose and length of your proposed stay
– Two passport photographs in full colour
– A return or onward ticket (unless you are arriving overland)
– Proof of your ability to support yourself financially during your stay
Note that if you are accompanied by minors you will need to supply additional documentation.
You can expect to be questioned by the immigration office on your arrival so that he can satisfy himself that your purpose for entry has been stated correctly so do be sure to fill out the paperwork correctly and to take any supporting documentation with you in order to avoid disappointment.