How to apply for a business visa South Africa

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Introduction to the visa

Chapter 2

Undesirable Business Types

Chapter 3

Qualifying Criteria

Chapter 4

Required Documents

Chapter 5

Additional Documents

How to start a company in South Africa as a foreigner.

In this guide you'll learn:

1. How to apply
2. The visa requirements
3. Undesirable business types
4. Which business types qualify for a capital waiver
5. The required documents

If you are looking to start your own business in SA, then you'll love this guide!

Foreign nationals who are considering investing in the economy of South Africa by starting a business or investing into an existing business must apply for a South African business visa. Foreigners who are interested in investing in South Africa but not wanting to immigrate to South Africa and work within the business are still welcome to do so and would not need to apply for the visa.

South Africa is an attractive option for many foreigners due to our demographic, productive economy and many natural resources the country has to offer. SA has a growing economy, great infrastructure and a large market potential. SA is one of the most advanced and stable countries on the African continent. So any foreigner who are looking to start their own company would enjoy favourable business conditions here in SA.

There are a few qualifying criteria that must be met before you apply for the visa. Every applicant applying for the visa must ensure that they have satisfied each of the criteria as set out by the Department of Home Affairs as per the notice in the gazette.

Undesirable Business Types

The Department of Home Affairs declared certain business types in South Africa as undesirable. This means that foreign nationals may not apply under these business types.

The Department of Home Affairs declared the following business types as undesirable and therefore foreigners are not allowed to apply for the visa for the following types of business:

• Cosmetic and beauty industry
• Exotic entertainment industry
• Security industry
• Hospitality industry
• Fast-Food outlets & franchises
• Businesses that import second hand cars into the Republic for the purpose of exporting it to other markets outside of the Republic

The main requirements for the visa in which the main applicant must provide proof of:

• Invest 5 million ZAR within the new startup or existing company

Applicants applying under the following categories may apply for a capital waiver to reduce the investment amount:

1. Information and Communication Technology
2. Clothing and Textile Manufacturing
3. Chemicals and Bio-technology
4. Agro-processing
5. Metals and Minerals Refinement
6. Automotive Manufacturing
7. Tourism
8. Crafts

• 60% of total staff count must be South Africa citizens or permanent residents

• Undertaking to register with the following South African Institute:

1. South African Revenue Service.
2. Unemployment Insurance Fund.
3. Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries & Diseases.
4. Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission.
5. Relevant professional body, board or council recognized by SAQA in terms of section 12(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act.

• Certification from the Department of Trade and Industry

• A detailed business plan

Certificate issued by the Department of Trade and Industry takes about 1-3 months to be processed.

These are the essential requirements which must be included when you submit your application for a business. 

First time applications will not be accepted in SA and must be submitted in your country of residence.

Documents required to submit your application

An important aspect to remember that from time to time a South African embassy or consulate have the right to request extra documentation or change the required document requirements.

• A valid passport which expires 30 days after the expiry of the intended date of departure from the Republic.

• Yellow fever vaccination certificate if a person intends on travelling or transiting through a yellow fever endemic area.

• A police clearance certificate from each country that the applicant has lived in for 12 months or more since the age of 18.

• Medical report which is not older than 6 months at the time of submission

• Radiological report which is not older than 6 months at the time of submission. Children under the age of 12 and pregnant women are not required to submit the report.

• A marriage certificate or in the case of a foreign spousal relationship, applicant must provide proof of official recognition thereof issued by relevant authorities of the foreign country of the applicant.

• A spousal affidavit where a spousal relationship exists to a SA citizen or permanent resident, including documentation showing proof of cohabitation and shared financial responsibilities including particulars of children in the spousal relationship.

• Divorce decree if applicable

• Court order granting full or specific parental responsibilities & rights – if applicable

• Death certificate in respect of late spouse – If applicable

• Written consent from both parents and full parental responsibilities – if applicable

• Proof of adoption – if applicable

• Legal separation order – if applicable

Additional supporting documents required by applicants who intends on starting a business or investing into business that has not been established yet:

Home Affairs requires extra documentation if you intend on starting a business from scratch or investing in a business that is not active or trading yet.

• Certificate issued by a chartered accountant registered with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants or a professional accountant registered with the South African Institute of Professional Accountants to the effect that:

1. An amount in cash to be invested in the Republic as determined from time to time by the Minister, after consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry, by notice in the Gazette, is available; or

2. At least an amount in cash and a capital contribution as determined from time to time by the Minister, after consultation with the Minister of Trade and Industry, by notice in the Gazette is available.

• Undertaking in writing by the applicant that 60% of total staff count shall be South African citizens or permanent residents employed permanently in various positions within the company and proof of compliance must be submitted within 12 months after the visa has been issued.

• Undertaking to register with the following:

1. South African Revenue Service
2. Unemployment Insurance Fund
3. Compensation Fund for Occupational Injuries & Diseases
4. Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission
5. Relevant professional body, board or council recognised by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act where applicable: (Provided that upon registration, all certificates shall be submitted to the Director-General)

• Letter of recommendation from the Department of Trade & Industry regarding:

1. The feasibility of the business
2. Contribution to the national interests of South Africa

A foreigner who intends or has invested into an existing business shall submit the above mentioned and in addition submit the following:

• Financial statement in respect of the preceding financial year
• Proof of Investment

All documents issued by the issuing authority of the country of origin shall be original or certified copies and must be translated into english if in any other foreign language. We recommend submitting certified copies of your documents.