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South African Visas and Immigration

Visas for South Africa

This website provides guidance and information on making your application for a South African visa or immigration permit. Please note that for the purposes of this site, it is assumed that you are making your application outside of South Africa. To see a list of visa exempt countries, click here.

The first step in applying for a South African visa is to approach the South African Embassy or Consulate in your country. To see a full list of all South African Embassies and Consulates, together with their contact information, click here. From June 2014, VFS (Visa Facilitation Services) centres will start to be dotted around the world and be the main place of visa and permit applications.

The Embassy or Consulate or VFS center will provide you with the necessary visa application forms. These forms always include what is known as a Form BI-84, unless you are applying for a medical treatment visa, in which case you will need Form BI-1784. To see all the documents that are used in visa and permit applications, click here to download South African visa application forms.

Please note that since May 2014 it is imperative to apply in person at the relative SA mission in your country or the mission in the country nearest to you!

Please also note that since 1 June 2015, traveling children have special visa requirements! Parents must carry supporting documents! Click to see these new visa and immigration regulations.

In order to complete the forms, you will need to supply two passport-size photographs. To see what the photographs should look like, click here.

The most important thing to keep in mind when applying for your visa is that the application process takes time. You may be asked for additional documents, such as bank statements. Also, you may require documents that are not easy to obtain, such as a letter of invitation from your South African host. The required documentation varies from one type of visa to another. You can see what is required for each type on the pages on this site.

So, do yourself a favour and give yourself enough space to apply. If you do need a visa and you arrive in South Africa without one, you will be sent straight home. In most cases, you should allow at least four weeks for the processing of your application. Even if it doesn’t end up taking that long, you will still be able to thank yourself for arranging the visa in good time, allowing you to concentrate on other aspects of your trip.