Countries Exempt From South African Visas
The Republic of South Africa is a popular destination for many foreign travellers from all over the world who come for tourism or business purposes. Those who would like to apply for a visa extension South Africa can read here how to do it.
Our country has many tourist attractions for travellers to explore and beautiful sightseeing to do like table mountain which is one of the 8 wonders of the world.
There are many reasons why international travellers come to the Republic of South Africa but most of them are left wondering if they need a visa to travel to the Republic of South Africa to gain entry.
South African passport holders or citizens do not require a visa to gain entry to their own country. All they have to do is present their passport documents to immigration officials and the validity will be checked. A passport holder must always ensure that their required information is valid like
Today we are going to provide you with all the information you need so that when you arrive in the Republic of South Africa that no issue will arise when you are dealing with immigration officials.
Immigration officials will deny you entry if you have not met all the requirements and put you back on a flight to your country of residence.
Need to know what other visas you can explore? These are the different South Africa visa types you can explore.
The South African Visa Policy
The Department of Home Affairs and the government of South Africa decide which foreign citizens may and may not enter our country for tourism or business purposes. A visa does not guarantee entry to South Africa as the officials have the final say.
Visa-exempt citizens can spend 30 days or 90 days in the country as they receive a visa stamp at any one of the ports of entry. Citizens who are not visa-exempt must apply for a visa at the South African embassy, mission or consulate.
The department is constantly adding or removing countries from the visa-exempt list.
All foreigners travelling to the Republic of South Africa with or without a visa and intending to travel through a yellow fever endemic area must produce a yellow fever certificate.
A yellow fever certificate shows proof that you were vaccinated.
Do I need a visa for South Africa?
South Africa has agreements with certain countries to allow foreigners to gain entry to the country without a visa. In some countries, citizens are granted 30 days or 90 days dependent on the agreement.
Some countries are not visa-exempt and must therefore submit an application to the South African embassy, mission or consulate. After the application has been submitted for processing, the foreigner will be issued a visa. You cannot travel to the Republic without a visa as you will be denied entry into the country by immigration officials if you only present a passport.
If you need to conduct short-term work activities then you need to apply for the section 11(2) Short term work visa.
List of countries allowed to travel to South Africa
These are the South African Visa Free Countries for Ordinary Passport Holders for 30 days
|Antigua and Barbuda||30 Days|
|Costa Rica||30 Days|
|Hong Kong||30 Days|
|Kingdom of Eswatini (Swaziland)||30 Days|
|Republic of Korea (South Korea)||30 Days|
These are the Visa Free Countries for Ordinary Passport Holders for 90 days
|British Antarctic Territory||90 Days|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||90 Days|
|British Virgin Island||90 Days|
|Cape Verde||90 Days|
|Cayman Islands||90 Days|
|Czech Republic||90 Days|
|Ducie and Oeno Islands||90 Days|
|Falken Islands||90 Days|
|Isle of Man||90 Days|
|New Zealand||90 Days|
|Pitcairn Islands||90 Days|
|Russian Federation||90 Days|
|Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha, Gough island||90 Days|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||90 Days|
|San Marino||90 Days|
|Sao Tome and Principe||90 Days|
|Saudi Arabia||90 Days|
|South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands||90 Days|
|Trinidad and Tobago||90 Days|
|Turks and Caicos Islands||90 Days|
|United Arab Emirates||90 Days|
|United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland||90 Days|
|United States of America||90 Days|
|Virgin Islands||90 Days|
The following countries need a visa to South Africa
The following passport holders require a visa to South Africa
The South African visa requirements must be met before you are issued a visa. The citizens of the countries listed below must approach the South African embassy, mission or consulate for immigration advice from a consular.
You can read all about the immigration requirements for what is the visa requirements for South Africa.
Each country has their requirements and from country to country they can vastly differ. Most South African embassies, missions or consulates have websites which list the South African visa requirements which would eliminate the need to deal with a consular.
Please note that the applicants below cannot visit the Republic of South Africa without a visa and need a visa to enter South Africa. Passport holders must produce a valid visitor’s visa at the port of entry.
|Congo (Democratic Republic of)|
What does visa exempt mean in South Africa?
Being visa exempt from the Republic of South Africa means that you do not have to apply for a visa to gain entry as a foreign citizen and you are either granted 30 days or 90 days at the port of entry. The amount of days a foreign citizen is granted depends on the agreement between your country and South Africa.
Who is exempt from visa fees?
Foreigners from countries who are granted 30 days at a time and who would like to stay longer than 30 days must apply for a visa application at the South African embassy, mission or consulate. The application has visa fees which must be paid at the time of submission.
Foreign citizens who are granted 90 days do not have to pay any visa fees.
The only time they have to pay visa fees is if they are doing an extension in the Republic of South Africa.
Which international organizations are visa exempt?
Officials holding the following travel documents/passports will automatically obtain 90 days without the need of having to apply for a South African visa for their intended visit:
- African Union Laissez-passer
- South African Development Community (SADC) Laissez-passer – Officials travelling to South Africa for bona fide official business visits for 90 days or less are exempt from applying for a visa.
- United Nations laissez-passer
What are the different types of visas for South Africa?
Short-term visas issued to foreign applicants for 90 days:
- Visitor’s visas to visit for family, tourism or business purposes
- Medical visa for 90 days or less
- Applicant working in the entertainer industry like the film crew
- Attending a conference
- Treaty conditions between South Africa and other countries
- Maritime crew
- Exchange programs such as social, economic or cultural.
- Transit through South Africa
Temporary residence visas issued to foreign citizens:
- Business visa
- Critical Skills Visa
- General Work Visa
- Intra-company Transfer Work Visa
- Corporate Work Visa
- Study Visa
- Exchange visa
- Retirement Visa
- Relatives Visa
- Medical Visa
Permanent Permits issued to foreign citizens:
- Permanent residence permits
What is the e-visa system:
Home Affairs the immigration department of South Africa has introduced the “e-visa” which is an electronic visa system to obtain travel authorization to travel to South Africa. The e-visa system aims to simplify the process of getting a visa and therefore eliminate the need to go to the South African embassy, mission or consulate. This is an online service and is still in an experimental phase and obtaining they are trying to obtain more information before introducing it to the rest of the world.
The following countries have been added to the e-visa system
- Congo (Democratic Republic of the)
- Saudi Arabia
Are visa applications open in South Africa?
Yes, you are allowed to apply for a visa to South Africa.
Those who are exempt from visa requirements can sojourn to South Africa and receive an entry stamp at the ports of entry whether it is for tourism or business purposes.
Those who are required to apply for a visa can apply in their country of residence at a South African embassy, consulate or diplomatic mission as they are accepting applications.
How long does a visa application take for South Africa?
This largely depends on which country you are applying from, certain embassies, diplomatic missions or consulates are busier compared to others.
Countries with a higher amount of applications submitted will take longer to process and the average processing duration can be 3- 4 weeks.
A less busy embassy, consulate or diplomatic mission turn-around times are around 1-2 weeks.
Once you have received your valid visa you can then travel and gain entry to the Republic of South Africa.
How much does a visa cost for South Africa?
Depending on the type of visa you apply for would determine the cost and if the South African embassy, diplomatic mission or consulate is contracted to VFS or not.
Ensure that you first call your embassy to verify costs, document requirements and all the necessary information you need before you arrive at the immigration section to submit the required documents.
How much are South Africa’s visa fees?
- Visitor’s visa fee – R 425.00 (Convert to your country’s currency)
- VFS fee – Varies per country and the local charge for VFS in South Africa is R 1550.00
Temporary residence Visas:
- Business visas: R 1520.00
- General Work Visas: R 1520.00
- Critical Skills Visas: R 1520.00
- Intra-company visas: R 1520.00
- Corporate Workers Visas: R 1520.00
- Study Visas: R 425.00
- Exchange Work Visas: R 1520.00
- Exchange Visas Study: Contact your embassy for costs
- Retired Persons Visas: R 425.00
- Relatives Spouse Visas: R Fee
- Relatives Life Partner Visas: No fee
- Relatives Sibling Visas: R425.00
- Relatives Visas Adult Child: R 425.00
- Relatives Visas Minor Child: No fee
- Medical Treatment Visas: R 425.00
Do I need a transit visa for South Africa?
Transit means that you pass through one country to get to another country. Foreigners must apply for a transit visa.
If you intend on travelling through the Republic of South Africa to a neighbouring country then you must apply for a transit visa whether it is for a flight or via road.
Visitor’s/travellers who are transiting through the following airports are exempted from having to apply for a transit visa but their biometric details will be captured at the airport before their next flight.
If you are travelling via road you must either have a valid visa or transit visa to gain access to the ports of entry. Deportees are excluded from the above-mentioned and must have a valid transit visa.
Check your passport details and travel documents before you travel to South Africa
When travelling to the Republic of South Africa foreign citizens must ensure that their passports or travel documents are valid and that they have a valid visa.
The holder of a foreign passport who is not exempt from applying for a visa cannot enter at a port of entry without a visa.
Your passport validity checklist:
- Only machine-readable travel documents or passports will be accepted for visa submissions along with your documentation and at a port of entry. No extended passports will be accepted.
- Your passport must be valid for 30 days or more after your intended departure date from the Republic of South Africa.
- Your passport must have at least 2 blank pages for stamps or endorsements.
- A valid visa if required.
Please note that you should always ensure that your passport is up to date when travelling.
Travelling with minors to and from South Africa
The government of the Republic of South Africa 2015 announced and implemented a regulation that all South African citizens (South African passport holders and foreign citizens travelling with children under the age of 18 had to produce an unabridged birth certificate and the information of both parents which had to be presented to the official or officials at any one of the ports of entry.
A child who travels with one parent for tourism or business purposes had to produce an affidavit from the absent parent specifically giving the parent consent to travel with the child.
A child who is travelling with an adult other than their parents must show an affidavit from both parents specifically giving consent for the child to travel with the adult.
A child travelling alone must have their unabridged birth certificate, affidavit for consent and a letter from the South African host confirming the particulars of the host.
In later years this regulation received a backlash from the tourism industry and the government decided to scrap this regulation.
Although this visa regulation has been relaxed, there are still some reports of the flight crew who are requesting this information from travellers.
What happens if your overstay your visa?
What is an overstay or undesirable person?
A foreign citizen who has overstayed the number of days allowed in the Republic of South Africa will be banned from the country as their visa is no longer valid.
When you approach immigration control they will hand you a document called form 19 which declares you undesirable.
Your passport will be stamped with an undesirable stamp and you will not be allowed to enter at any of the ports of entry until you have appealed the ban.
Please note once an applicant has been declared undesirable, he or she must appeal the decision as after the “ban” period has passed, the restrictions will not be lifted.
This means that you will not qualify for a visitor’s visa, temporary residence visa or permanent residence.
You are not allowed entry into the Republic of South Africa until your ban has been lifted.
What is the penalty for overstaying a visa?
If you would like more information on how to overturn a ban, then our What is the penalty for overstaying in the Republic of South Africa on an expired visa will give you the breakdown.
- An applicant who has overstayed by 30 or less of his or her visa will receive a 1-year ban.
- An applicant who has overstayed by more than 30 days or more of his or her visa will receive a 5-year ban.
- An applicant who has overstayed twice in 2 years will be banned for 2 years.
Charl Vollmer has 8 years of experience helping people immigrate to South Africa. I am passionate about helping people and making their dreams a reality. Charl constantly stays up to date with South African Immigration rules and regulations. To contact Charl, visit our contact page.