Visiting South Africa: visas
New requirements for visiting South Africa – particularly for children – came into effect on 1 June 2015. All children under the age of 18 years who travel into or out of South Africa need the consent of both their parents, and to produce an unabridged birth certificate to get a visa or at a port of entry.
All children under the age of 18 – both local and foreigners – must travel with a valid passport and an unabridged (full) birth certificate stating both parents' names. If the child is travelling alone or with only one parent, then they must also carry an affidavit filled out by the missing parent or parents.
The Department of Home Affairs immigration services has equivalent forms for foreign children available online:
If a child applies for a visa inside South Africa or at a South African embassy abroad, all supporting documents must be submitted before the visa is issued.
If a child is a national of a country exempt from South African visas, all the supporting documents must be presented at a port of entry, or the child will be refused entry. The Department of Home Affairs lists all the countries exempt from South African visas.
Want to visit South Africa? Here's information on the basic requirements for entering South Africa, as well as links to full information on visas – what they are, who needs them, and when, where and how to apply for them.
Note: Requirements for entry into South Africa differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Always make enquiries before travelling to South Africa.
An application for a South African visa can be made:
- Online by securing a personal appointment at a VFS centre
- In person at a South African foreign mission (embassy or consulate) in all countries where VFS centres are not available
- In person at the nearest South African foreign mission in another country if South Africa does not have a mission in the traveller's home country
An applicant's biometrics will be taken and interviews will be carried out, where necessary, at the relevant mission or VFS centre.
What is a visa?
South Africa has the right to decide who may and may not enter its territory. A visa ensures that you have been properly screened before entering the country, and gives immigration officials the information they need to ensure you are admitted to South Africa for the correct purpose and length of time.
A visa doesn't guarantee you entry to the country – it only allows you to travel to a South African port of entry, where an immigration officer will check that you satisfy the basic requirements for entry into the country.
A visa allows you to visit the country for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less.
What are the requirements to apply for a visa to visit South Africa?
You will need:
- A valid passport or travel document with at least one unused page
- A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa if required)
- Payment of the prescribed fee
- A yellow-fever vaccination certificate if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America
- Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit
- Two colour passport photographs
- A return or onward ticket if you are travelling by air
- Proof of financial means to pay for your living expenses while in South Africa
If you have children (minors) travelling with you or joining in South Africa, you will need to provide the following additional documents:
- Proof of guardianship or custody or
- Consent from the guardian in the case of an unaccompanied minor
What are the requirements for children travelling to and from South Africa?
A parent is defined as biological or adoptive parents, as well as any court appointed legal guardian, while a minor is any person younger than 18 years old.
You must supply an unabridged birth certificate of the child. For South Africans, this is an official birth document reflecting the identities and vital particulars of the parents of a child, issued on application by the Department of Home Affairs.
For foreigners, this is any official document issued in the country of nationality or permanent residence of the visitor indicating the vital particulars of the parents of a child. An equivalent document in lieu of unabridged birth certificate is available from Home Affairs.
Whenever an adult travels with a child to or from South Africa, he or she has to produce, among others, an unabridged birth certificate in respect of that child at any South African port of entry. This applies to:
- South African travellers travelling internationally and returning to the country from another country
- Foreign nationals travelling to and from the country who require a visa to visit South Africa
- Foreign nationals travelling to and from South Africa who do not require a visa to visit the country
Both parents travelling together who are accompanied by one or more children, have to produce:
- A passport and/or visa for each traveller, including every child
- An unabridged birth certificate of each child
Where only one parent is travelling with a child, he or she has to produce:
- A passport and/or visa for each traveller, including every child
- An unabridged birth certificate of every child
- A recently dated affidavit from the other parent registered on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from South Africa with the child or a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of any child to the travelling parent
- Alternatively, a death certificate of the other parent
Where a person is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, he or she has to produce:
- A passport and/or
visa for each traveller, including every child
- An unabridged birth certificate of the child
- An affidavit from both parents giving permission to travel with the child; alternatively an affidavit from one parent and death certificate or court order reflecting full parental rights having been conferred on the single parent
- Copies of the identities or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child
- The telephonic contact numbers of the parents of the child
An unaccompanied child has to produce:
- A passport and/or visa
- A letter or affidavit of consent from one or both of his or her parents or legal guardian granting permission to the child to travel into or depart from South Africa
Where only one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide:
- A copy of a court order in terms of which he or she has full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child
- A letter from the person who is to receive her or him in South Africa containing that person's residential address and contact details in South Africa where the child will be staying
- A copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child
- The contact numbers of the parents or legal guardian of the child
What are the requirements for entering South Africa?
You will need:
- A valid and acceptable passport or travel document for your intended stay
- At least one blank page in your passport for endorsements
- A valid visa, if required
- Sufficient funds to pay for your day-to-day expenses during your stay
- A return or onward ticket
- Yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America
Do I need a visa to visit South Africa?Depending on your nationality, and the purpose and duration of your visit, you may not need a visa to visit South Africa.
- See the Department of Home Affairs' list of countries exempt from South African visas
Where can I make enquiries about visas?
- See the Department of Home Affairs' website
- Check the list of South African offices abroad for information on where to apply in your own country
- Home Affairs' contact centre: +27 11 461 9252 (overseas callers), 0800 60 11 90 (within South Africa), or email the department
- VFS Global is Home Affairs' partner and receives applications for permits and extensions of visas: +27 12 425 3000, email information at VFS. email feedback at VFS. check the list of VFS offices in South Africa
How do I go about getting a visa?
The Department of Home Affairs' website will give you the lowdown on visa costs, processing time, where to apply, what to submit, requirements for people in transit, as well as information relating to your duration and purpose of stay, medical visas, and photographs.
- See the Department of Home Affairs' guide to applying for a visa
- Note: You are required to fill in an original visa application form. Forms downloaded off the internet will not be accepted
What's the difference between a visa and a temporary residence permit?
A visa allows you to travel to a South African port of entry. A temporary residence permit will be issued to you at the port of entry. It replaces your visa, and sets the duration and purpose of your stay in South Africa.
What if I want to stay in South Africa for longer?
It is best to request the full duration of your intended visit when you first arrive, as extensions are subject to additional fees. If you wish to extend your stay further, you must keep your temporary residence permit valid by applying for an extension at a VFS Global office. You should do this well before your permit expires.
VFS Global is Home Affairs' partner and receives applications for temporary and permanent residence permits and extensions of visas within South Africa. Visit VFS Global's website. phone +27 12 425 3000, email information at VFS. email feedback at VFS. or visit a VFS office in South Africa.
What if I plan to work or study in South Africa?
If you intend to be professionally active in South Africa or to undertake any voluntary or paid employment or studies, you must apply for a work, work seeker's or study permit. These permits are also issued outside South Africa, and function as valid visas in allowing their holders to proceed to a South African port of entry. (In other words, if you're applying for one of these permits, you do not have to apply for a visa separately.)
Get your visa before leaving for South Africa
If you are subject to visa requirements, you should apply for your visa at least four weeks before your departure for South Africa. Do not leave until you know your application has been successful. Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry, and airline officials are obliged to insist on visas before allowing passengers to board. If you arrive without a visa, immigration officials will refuse you entry to South Africa and place you on a return flight to your country.
Children under the age of 18 who are nationals from countries exempt from South African visas must have the required documents with them when they arrive at a port of entry. If they do not, immigration officials will refuse them entry to South Africa and place them on a return flight to their country.
Do I have to submit my visa application in person?
No, you can ask someone else – such as a travel agent, a courier service or another family member – to submit the application on your behalf.
Reviewed: 3 August 2015
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