Retirement Visa South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa allows foreign nationals to retire in this beautiful country by applying for a Retired person’s visa.

In this article, we aim to provide all the information you need about the retirement visa for immigration to South Africa.

Retired doll Couple sitting on a bench

What is a Retired Person Visa?

The retired person visa is a temporary residence visa which authorizes a foreign national retiree to live in South Africa for an extended number of years ranging from 1 to 4 years, after they stopped working.

The visa allows you to stay much longer than a tourist visa.

This is a temporary residence visa and not a permanent residence.

However, once the applicant satisfies certain requirements then they are eligible to apply for permanent residence.

What Are The Benefits

There are many benefits to obtaining the visa:

  • South Africa has lower living costs compared to first-world countries.
  • Our country has beautiful weather compared to the cold winter months in most European countries. The climate is a huge attraction.
  • A significant benefit is the affordable cost of medical care.
  • Favourable exchange rate

Eligibility Requirements

The qualifying criteria as per the immigration act are set out below:

Income RequirementsZAR 37, 000.00 per applicant or couple.
Clear Criminal RecordPolice clearance certificate (background check)
Age RequirementNo age requirement as per the South African Immigration Act.

Different Forms of Income That Are Accepted

The Department of Home Affairs only accepts the following income:

  1. Irrevocable Retirement Annuities: The retired person receives life-long retirement payments that continue for the rest of his or her life.
  2. Pension Fund: You receive income from a monthly pension (superannuation) after you have retired from your career.
  3. Income From Assets: Foreign nationals can use income derived from the following assets; rental income from properties registered in their name, interest payments from investments or dividend income received as a shareholder.

The ZAR 37, 000.00 can be made up from a combination of assets.

Previously applicants used “Cash in the Bank” as financial assurance but many South African embassies or diplomatic missions have rejected these South African retired visa applications.

Many South African embassies no longer accept cash as an accepted form of income.

Foreign nationals who do not qualify for the visa can alternatively apply for a financially independent Visa. The requirement for the financially independent visa is providing a net worth of ZAR 12 million and paying ZAR 120,000.00 to the Department of Home Affairs Director General upon approval.

Important Notes:

To verify that you are indeed receiving the income, you would have to present the following income documents:

Pension or Retirement income statements
Income statements from your assets such as rental lease agreements reflecting leasing amounts.
Bank statements showing the income reflected in your bank account.

Interesting Fact:

Did you know that the ZAR 37,000 income requirement applies to married couples and not only to individual applicants? As long as one applicant is the main visa holder and the other applying as an accompanying spouse.

Our Thoughts On This
“As South African immigration consultants we agree with this idea. Using cash to secure the visa is not a great idea as people typically spend money and soon find themselves in a position where they no longer have the cash to sustain themselves. This puts them in a position where they no longer qualify for the visa and have to return to their country of permanent residence.”

Clear Criminal Record

The immigration act requires any applicant applying for a temporary residence visa to provide a police clearance certificate also known as a background check in other countries.

The South African embassy or diplomatic mission needs to ensure that a foreign national will not pose a risk to South African citizens.

The certificate of good conduct confirms whether an applicant has any history of criminal or violent activities.

What Happens If I Have A Minor Transgression?

The “minor transgression” depends on what you were arrested for and how long ago.

If it was 20 or 30 years ago for something like Driving Under The Influence then you are likely to be forgiven.

A Real-Life Example: Migrate With Q was approached by a UK retiree applicant interested in applying for a retirement visa for South Africa.

He completed our free assessment form and we contacted him within an hour. Upon speaking to him, he mentioned that he had a criminal conviction against his name.

We asked him about the offence and mentioned that he was caught drinking and driving. He was charged and went to court in which he pleaded guilty.

We asked how long ago this happened and whether he had been rehabilitated. He provided proof of rehabilitation to us.

We put together his application including his ACRO police clearance and wrote a letter of good standing which cited all the reasons why he should be considered.

We included all evidence to support his letter and within one month his retired person visa was approved.

Age Requirement

The Immigration Act of South Africa defines no age for a retirement visa. The premise is based on whether you qualify with the stipulated income and have a clear criminal record.

However, some South African embassies might have age requirements to qualify for the visa.

South Africa Retirement Visa Requirements

The retirement visa requirements will differ from embassy to embassy. The below requirements are a general list of documents and we advise you to speak to one of our immigration consultants about the requirements.

Document RequirementsExplanation
DHA-1738 Application FormApplication form completed and signed.
Original Valid PassportA valid passport must be used during submission and must be valid for 30 days after your proposed departure from South Africa.
Medical Report – BI 811Complete by a registered medical practitioner reflecting the practice number, address and contact details. Medical report should not be older than 6 months at the time of submission. 
Police Clearance ReportA police clearance from each country that you have lived in for more than 12 months in the last 5 years.
Yellow Fever Vaccination ReportA yellow fever certificate is required if you are travelling through the yellow fever belt area.Certificate not required for direct transit. 
Marriage CertificateA marriage certificate is needed from the issuing authority of the country where you married if you are planning on adding your spouse to the visa application.
Spousal Affidavit (Shared Financial Responsibilities)If a spousal relationship to a South African citizen or permanent resident exists then an affidavit is required proving cohabitation, related financial responsibilities and the setting out of children in the relationship.
Proof of Union (If applicable)Applicable if you are traditionally married.
Divorce Decree (If applicable)If you or your spouse were previously married then a divorce decree is required for the application.
Proof of Court Order Awarding Custody (If Applicable)If you are adding dependents like children to your visa application from a previous marriage then you need to provide custody papers.
Death Certificate (If Applicable)A death certificate is applicable if you or your spouse has been widowed previously. 
Proof of Sole Custody (If applicable)Written consent from parents allowing custody.
Proof of Adoption (If Applicable)If you have adopted any of your children or spouse’s children then this is applicable.
Legal Separation Order (If Applicable)If you are legally separated then you need to include these documents.
Chartered Accountant Certificate Proving IncomeA certificate issued from a South African Chartered Accountant proving the ZAR 37,000.00

Marriage certificate: Your marriage certificate must be apostilled/certified when including a spouse as an accompanying dependent.

Chartered Accountant Certificate: All applicants must obtain a chartered accountant certificate from a registered Chartered accountant in South Africa. We offer our clients value-added services and do this on your behalf.

Pro-tip: Do not provide paid flight tickets but rather provisional flight tickets. This will ensure that if your visa is rejected you have not wasted money on actual flight tickets or having to move your flight dates.

What Are The Costs Of The Visa?

Visa Processing FeeZAR 425
Chartered Accountant FeeZAR 2000

How To Apply For A Retirement Visa

A retired visa applicant may not apply within South Africa for the visa. The immigration regulation strictly prohibits this and therefore the applicant must return to their country of residence to apply at the South African embassy.

Abroad the South African visa applications are handled by the SA embassy.

The Process:

Gather Required Documents: Collect all the required documents per the South African embassy’s requirements.

Contact The Embassy: Many embassies require applicants first to secure an appointment before applying. Many South African embassies are contracted to VFS Global, a visa facilitation service company.

Submit Application: Submit your complete application package and pay the requested visa fees.

Pro-tip: Many foreign nationals decide to retire in South Africa, sell their assets and immigrate. Please do not sell your assets and then apply for a visa. Wait for the visa to be issued before selling your assets such as your home.

Interest Fact: Many foreign nationals enter the Republic of South Africa and want to change their status within the country. This is not allowed and you must apply for a visa within your country of residence.

What Is The Validity Of The Visa?

The validity of the visa is between 1 to 4 years. The validity is based on your source of income and the viability thereof.

What Are The Processing Times:

Visa processing times vary from embassy to embassy. A contributing factor to this is how many visa applications and civic applications have been submitted at the time of your application.

In our experience, it takes anything from 30 to 90 days to process a visa. There are worst-case scenarios where applications have taken 6 months to process.

We advise that applicants ask the South African embassy what the time frames are.

Can I Include My Spouse & Children (Dependents)

Yes, you can add your spouse and children to the application.

  • Children of school-going age must apply for a student visa to attend school in South Africa.

For each dependent child added to the application, financial assurance of ZAR 8,500 must be added to the ZAR 37,000.00 per child.

Interesting Fact:

An accompanying spouse holder and accompanying dependent holder of the retired person’s visa will only be issued for 3 years and the main visa holder will receive 4 years.

What Happens When My Visa Is Rejected?

We recommend that the foreign national read the rejection letter and understand why the application was rejected.

Our advice is to never appeal a rejected outcome abroad at a South African embassy.

The reason for this is that you will never receive the outcome and it’s best to redo your application from scratch and satisfy the reasons you were rejected.

Can I Qualify for Permanent Residency?

Retirees who receive a pension or retirement annuity will qualify for permanent residence. Those who receive passive income from assets, dividends or investments cannot apply for permanent residence.

An application for permanent residency can be submitted once you are in South Africa.

The benefits of permanent residency are that it’s indefinite and you do not need to renew your visa every few years.

South African Retirement Visa Renewal

The visa can be renewed within South Africa closer to the expiry date of your visa. Renewals are done through VFS which you have to book an appointment online and complete your application form digitally.

The Department of Home Affairs will not accept your application directly. You must secure an appointment and submit your visa application through VFS South Africa.

Once your visa application has been processed, then collect the outcome from the VFS centre you originally submitted your application through.

Visa Fees For RenewalZAR
DHA FeesNo fees
VFS FeesZAR 1550.00 (Standard Booking) or ZAR 2050 (premium booking) 

Can You Work On A Retirement Visa in South Africa?

By law, you are not allowed to work on the visa as you come to retire.

If you would like to work on the retired person’s visa, you would have to put together a waiver application requesting to work.

The waiver application will include reasons why you would like to work, why no South African citizen or permanent resident holder can fill the vacancy and lastly proof that all avenues were exhausted in finding a South African citizen or permanent resident holder to fill that position.

Our Thoughts:

We recommend that you do not request rights to work on the visa. The waiver application will be rejected.

Benefits Of Using An Immigration Agent

Immigration consultants have experience in applying for different South African visa types.

They have a deep understanding of the process and the requirements which is paramount to the success of your application.

It is important to remember that you can apply all by yourself if you are comfortable doing so.

These are the benefits of using an immigration consultant:

  • Higher chance of approval
  • Expertise and guidance throughout the process
  • Avoiding errors
  • Easily overcome complexities
  • Personalized advice
  • Access to additional resources

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can UK/US Citizens Retire To South Africa?

Yes, any foreign national can retire to South Africa provided they qualify for ZAR 37,000.00 per month.

What Are The Conditions For A Retirement Visa In South Africa?

You need to receive a minimum of ZAR 37,000.00 per month.

Is South Africa A Good Place To Retire?

Yes, South Africa is a good place to retire. There are many things to do throughout the country like visiting wine farms or exploring the garden route.


Why was this content created?

The content created about retirement visas for South Africa is to be a helpful and informative guide for people wishing to retire here. The content on the page aims to be a valuable resource for foreign nationals wanting to apply for the visa.

How Was This Content Created?

The content was created through Charl Vollmer’s years of knowledge and expertise which he gained through assisting various foreign nationals applying for the visa. 

Information was cited from the following sources:

About Charl

Charl Vollmer

Charl Vollmer has 12 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.