Visa application process
This page provides guidance and information on making your application for a South African visa. Please note that for the purposes of this page, it is assumed that you are making your application outside of South Africa. If you are a citizen or passport holder of a visa exempt country, obviously the information on this page will not apply to you.
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) centers will 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 form. This form is known as a 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 these visa application forms.
In order to complete the form, 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 time. If you need a visa for South Africa and you arrive in South Africa without a visa you will be sent straight home. That is the bottom line. 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.
Here is further, fuller information on how to apply for a visa to South Africa:
Applying for a visa to visit South Africa
Most non-South African citizens wishing to enter South Africa must have a valid visa. The visa states the purpose and duration of the visit.
Requirements for entering South Africa
Before you will be allowed to enter South Africa, you need to have:
- a valid and acceptable passport / travel document which covers the period that you intend to stay in the country
- a valid visa, if required
- sufficient funds
- a return / onward ticket
- a yellow fever certificate if you are travelling through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.
Who needs to apply for a VISA to South Africa?
People who do not have South African passports need to apply for visas. This includes people who want to come to South Africa for a holiday or for business.
However visitors who have passports from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (including the British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Mann and Virgin Islands, the Republic of Ireland as well as British Overseas Territories) are totally exempt from South African visa control and do not need visas for any purpose.
Also, visitors from certain other countries are exempt from the visa requirements under certain conditions.
Where can you apply for a VISA?
You must organise a visa before you come to South Africa. You cannot apply for a visa at South African ports of entry.
Arrival in South Africa
Remember you cannot apply for a visa when you arrive in South Africa. Once you get to the South African port-of-entry, e.g. Johannesburg International Airport, you will be given a temporary residence visa, which replaces your visa and states how long you may stay in the country.
This temporary residence visa must be kept valid and an application for extension (BI-159) can be submitted at any regional or district office of the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa.
How to apply for a VISA
To apply for a visa, you need to:
- submit the application form
- show your passport (or provide certified copies if the application is posted)
- provide two passport photographs
- pay the R425.00 or US$47 or £43 visa fee, if applicable (refer to the list of countries subject to visa fees), and
- show that you have booked an air ticket.
If a business visa is applied for, you also need to provide a letter of invitation from the South African company to be visited, as well as a letter from your company.
For any further questions, please use the contact form in the sidebar or on our contact page.