What is the penalty for overstaying in South Africa on an expired Visa?

Overstay Penalty
South Africa is a popular tourist destination for many tourists and many opt-ins to permanently move to South Africa to work or retire here. Our beautiful country has many popular destinations to see such as our landscape and wonderful games reserves and not to forget our world-class wines.

Tourists who travel from visa exempt countries for South Africa will receive a visa at the port of entry for 30 or 90 days. A tourist has the option to extend their visa for a further 30 or 90 days and must apply 60 days before their visa expires at VFS. A visa overstay is something you must avoid at all and exit the country before your visa expires. If you need to apply for a visa extension South Africa then you have to know the in’s and out’s.

If you are in South Africa and for reasons beyond your control could not renew your visa in time then you can apply for a Letter of good cause South Africa.

Once your upliftment has been overturned, then these are the different South Africa visa types you can apply for. 

Immigration Fines for Expired Visa

A tourist who has overstayed (visa overstay) their 90 days in South Africa will face legal consequences and as such will be declared undesirable when they exit the country and not allowed to enter if they have not overturned the ban. Previously the Department of Home Affairs issued fines to the tourist for the overstay upon leaving the country and this could amount to anything between R2,500.00 to R3,000.00. The severity of the fines was based on how long you overstayed in South Africa. Today an overstay can lead to a legal ban and not a fine. The law has changed in 2014 and the new immigration law was implemented which scraped the fine system.


Previously a person could overstay their visa and be fined when they exit South Africa. The person then had to go to the South African embassy in their country of residence and pay the fine along with the necessary documents such as their passport, the fine document stating the amount and their passport. The longer you remain in South Africa illegally, the longer the duration of the ban.

If you tried entering the country with a ban in place, immigration officials will refuse you entry and turn you away.

Penalties for Overstaying in South Africa with Expired Visas?

DHA Overstay Penalty

Today, the Department of Home Affairs no longer issues fines to an undesirable person for a visa overstay in South Africa. A new legal system has been implemented since the new immigration regulations have been implemented in 2014 which now declares any visitor who overstayed illegal and declared an undesirable person and not fined.

Overstay Penalty from DHA Declared as Undesirable

When the visitor exists in South Africa with an expired visa at a border, they will receive a legal letter from the visa official declaring them undesirable. The period of the ban depends on how long you overstayed and the circumstances.
• A person who has overstayed less than 30 days will receive a 12-month ban.
• A person who has overstayed more than 30 days will receive a 5-year ban.

No fines will be issued to any tourist. Instead a form 19 will be issued upon your departure with all the necessary information.

All South African visas have an expiry date, and it is the person’s responsibility to exit the Republic of South Africa before the visa expires and it’s not up to the government. If you would like to extend your stay in South Africa, then you have to apply for an extension to stay legally in the country. Migrate With Q assists individuals who have been declared as undesirable with immigration services for South Africa and can appeal the status for you. You can contact us for more information.

Each case is assessed on a case-by-case basis and most of the time your appeal will be successful if you have a valid reason which would strengthen your case when your appeal is lodged at the Department of Home Affairs. You may have a positive assessment for one of the following cases:

1. You are a foreign student in South Africa and applied for a study visa.
2. You are employed in South Africa.
3. Overstayed due to medical conditions.
4. Application pending at the Department of Home Affairs for permanent residency or temporary visa application.
5. If you have family in SA such as relatives, spouse or dependents who are minors.

The Department of Home Affairs will take into consideration any previous visa overstay ban cases which will affect your application and possibly be denied. Once your application has been lodged with DHA, it is your responsibility to follow up with regard to your application. We recommend that you keep all email trails in a safe place should they not find your application and keep clear copies of your application that has been submitted to the overstay department.

Submitting an Overstay Penalty Appeal

Submitting an overstay appeal

The regulations make provision for any person who has been declared an undesirable person and been banned from the Republic of South Africa has the right to appeal the decision. Anyone can apply for an appeal to be overturned, so if you are not able to submit the application yourself, then you may ask family or friends in South Africa to submit your application on your behalf. The Department of Home Affairs promises a turn-around time of 48 hours, but this might take longer as they receive loads of applications at any given time. The application is submitted online and cannot be submitted physically at a SA embassy, mission or consulate.

A person who has been declared undesirable must submit an application to DHA to have this decision appealed and overturned. The following documents must be handed in according to the immigration law in terms of Section 30(1)(h) read with 50(1) of the immigration act South Africa , no 13 of 2002 as amended (no.13 of 2001)

To have your undesirable status overturned by DHA, you must provide them with solid proof that your overstay can be justified.

• Written Representation
• Declaration of undesirability which was issued at the port of entry.
• Include all relevant pages of the passport and bio page.
• Acknowledgement receipt in the case of a pending visa or permit.
• A medical certificate if the applicant has overstayed due to medical reasons.

Your application to lodge an appeal must be submitted within 10 days of receiving your ban.

Our blog post on how to write an overstay appeal letter will give you all the tips you need to write the best letter.

If you South African visa has been refused, you can read our visa appeal process South Africa which will give you all the information you need.

How to Avoid an Overstay in South Africa & Apply for an Extension

A visitor who is currently on a visitor’s visa must submit an application to extend their visa immediately when they arrive in South Africa and must be done through VFS. Submitting an extension as soon as possible will give Home Affairs ample time to process your visa and this allows you to collect your extension before your initial visa expires.

Temporary residents must apply for a renewal of a temporary resident visa when they have 6 months or less left on their initial visa. The application must be lodged through VFS and Home Affairs takes quite some time to process the temporary visa.

We, therefore, recommend that you make use of an immigration agency to facilitate the extension of a visitor’s visa or your TRP application as they are experienced and can prepare your application in the quickest timeframe. Immigration consultants are experienced and know what the Department of Home Affairs requirements are.

If you consecutively overstay, your application will not be considered, and you will be banned depending on the number of days you overstayed in South Africa.

The penalties for overstaying are harsh and there have been heartbreaking stories of families who were not allowed to see one another because they overstayed. The consequences are dire, so ensure that you have all your paperwork ready before you travel to South Africa so that you can be ready to submit your application and understand your rights. The South African immigration law is clear that it will not tolerate any tourist or foreigner who overstays unless they can provide sufficient reason as to why they overstayed and are within their rights. An overstay could count against you if you are applying for permanent residency. A departure before your visa expires is the best solution. 

Migrate With Q Can Assist you

Our immigration experts will conduct an assessment with you to find out how serious your case is and if there is any chance of approval. Once we have concluded that we can assist you then we will take you on as a client and request the necessary paperwork from you so that we provide the best service.

We will prepare and compile your application then submit it to the overstay appeal department on behalf of you. We will do the necessary follow up for you and we will keep you in the loop about the progress made. Once we receive the outcome from the Department of Home Affairs, we will then contact you and send you your letter stating that the ban has been lifted.

We can further assess if you qualify for any temporary residence visa should you wish to stay in SA. South African immigration is complex and frustrating to deal with. We are immigration experts that are highly trained and experienced when it comes to any immigration issues and our immigration services in South Africa will help you obtain your visa. We understand the immigration regulations and know how to approach each application. We only take on clients who qualify as we want to maintain our success rate and, in the event, if you don’t qualify we would take the time to explain why you don’t qualify. We would even take it one step further to explain to you how you can qualify and the necessary steps you need to take to qualify when making use of our service.

About Charl

Charl Vollmer

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.

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