Let’s face it, travelling itself is awesome. Even preparing for a trip can be rather exciting – except when it comes to visa requirements and/or restrictions for international travels. The last thing you want to know when planning is a trip is that you need to go through an annoying visa application and processing. Still, if you do everything right and have a little patience, then you’re almost certain to get a tourist visa – with which you can finally be thrilled about that upcoming trip you have been waiting for so long!
With that in mind, let’s find out whether planning a trip to wonderful South Africa will cost you a visa or not. As I’ve already been there last year, I can give some ‘inside info’ on this matter. First let’s look at which of you WON’T be needing a visa.
There are around 70 countries whose citizens don’t require a visa in advance to enter South Africa – but keep in mind that among these countries, not everyone is entitled to the same duration of stay in the country! 48 different nationalities can stay for up to 90 days, while others just for 30 days.
Generally, if you’re from a ‘Western European’ country, USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Japan, you’re entitled to a visa free entry and stay for 90 days. This also applies to some Latin American (Brazil, Argentina, Chile) citizens as well as citizens of African countries which are neighboring South Africa, and also (surprisingly) for Russians! On the other hand, South Koreans, Thais, Malaysians, Poles, Hungarians, Turks, Jordanians, Peruvians, and Bolivians can enter South Africa without a visa but they can stay for just 30 days. And when I say ‘entry without a visa’, it means that you will get a visa stamped upon your arrival at the country by immigration officials, otherwise known as ‘Visa-on-arrival’.
Otherwise everyone else, provided you’re an ordinary citizen and not a diplomat/government official, will need to apply for a visa at a South African diplomatic mission at your home/resident country. And from last year, this includes citizens of New Zealand as well. Apparently New Zealand stopped a visa-free entry for South Africans and so, the South African government retaliated. If you do need to apply for a tourist visa, keep calm! There’s nothing to worry about as long as you do your application right. I had to apply for one myself and I did it through the embassy in Berlin. Although the procedures/rules might differ from one embassy to another, I’m pretty sure the application method is almost the same. So I’m going to explain how I did it in my case.
Firstly you will need:
– Your original passport with six months validity on the date of your departure
– A photocopy of your passport’s main page with your details
– If you’re resident in another country than your home, then a valid residence permit in original and a photocopy
– Completed application form in English
– A colored official photo
– A statement or a letter to consular officer stating your purpose and duration of visit
– Flight and accommodation booking (for proof – which means you have to book these first before applying a visa)
– Bank statements from the last 3 months (original + photocopies) showing that you have an equivalent of at least € 200 on your account.
– An express envelope with your return address – so they can send your passport back to you with that safely.
It may sound like a lot of documents but it is doable! Also, certain nationalities don’t have to pay an application fee, while others have to. So check with your nearest South African embassy on this matter. In my case, I fortunately did not have to pay. Once you have all these stuff in your hands and filled out the application form, head to the embassy as early as their opening time. Otherwise you may have to wait for a long time.
Once it’s your turn to ‘meet’ the consular officer, submit all your documents to him/her and wait for some time while the officer checks your documents. When that’s done, you will be called once again to answer a few questions regarding yourself or the trip (no need to be afraid, they’re pretty normal questions) and submit your biometrics. That’s it, you’re done! You will get back the originals of everything except your passport, because it has to be stamped with the visa. Depending on the country you’re living in, you should get your passport within a week tops. I got mine in just 3 days and when I saw the stamped visa on my passport, it was evident that it was issued on the same day as my application submission/interview. Quite straight forward really 🙂
Now you can finally jump up and down with joy as you’re surely travelling to South Africa!! Oh and heads up, expect long queues at airport immigration after landing in South Africa because the immigration officers also take your biometrics while checking your passport.