Traveling to South Africa

Updated 2014-07-01 14:44

Foreigners traveling to South Africa have to follow a series of strict entry requirements. Find out more in this article.

Like the majority of countries around the world, South Africa has a series of strict entry requirements which tourists and expats need to fulfill before they will be allowed into the country. These are relatively basic for most visitors, but they can be complicated under certain circumstances. Obtaining visas is only part of the story, and expats coming to the country for other reasons need be sure that they will have permission to stay in the country before they start booking transport to and destinations in South Africa.

Before future expats even travel to South Africa, they will need a number of items, including a valid passport from their country of origin, with at least one completely blank passport which will allow the South African immigration service to endorse the passport. Expats hoping to make a life in South Africa will also need to have a visa granted to them by the South African government. These visas should be applied for, and granted, before the traveler makes the journey to South Africa.

Visitors will also be expected to demonstrate their intention to return once the visa has expired, and expats will need to establish that they can survive in South Africa financially and socially. Most expats are expected to demonstrate that they have skills which are essential to South Africa, or that they provide services which cannot be matched by South African nationals. Expats are also more likely to be accepted if they come from countries with a good political relationship with South Africa.

Both visa and passport entry requirements must be fulfilled before the visitor arrives in South Africa. It is important for tourists to handle the issue of their passports themselves, so they are sure that they qualify for entry into the country. Visitors from locations such as the UK, the USA, New Zealand, Australia and most locations in Europe will be able to travel on their passport if they intend to stay for less than 30 days. The type of visa required before entry into South Africa is granted will depend upon the expat's specific circumstances. For example, those coming into South Africa for business will need to have a specific business permit.

Both tourists and expats will need to demonstrate that they have enough funds to support themselves during their stay in South Africa. Naturally, this is not required when visiting on a work permit, but the traveler will still have to demonstrate sufficient funds are available to support themselves until the first wage is paid, usually one month after work begins.

Many travelers may also be required to fill in health checks, particularly if they intend to travel via areas of Africa or South America known as the Yellow Fever Belt. Travelers passing through this Belt will need to demonstrate that they have had a vaccination by supplying a yellow fever certificate with their application. Visitors will also need to have other vaccinations, such as tetanus, typhoid and rabies, if they are traveling to areas of the country which could be affected by these diseases.

Useful links:

Ministry of Foreign Affairs ' List of countries exempted from visas

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.