Please contact your nearest South Africa Embassy regarding visa requirements.
Visitors’ visas are for international travellers (citizens of other countries) who have permanent residence outside South Africa and who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less.
A visa simply indicates that your application has been reviewed at a South African embassy, mission or consulate and that the consular officer has determined you are eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose.
The visa will allow you to travel to a South African port of entry where an immigration official will then determine if you are allowed to enter South Africa and for how long you can stay for that particular visit. Visitors are restricted to the activity or reason for which their visas were issued.
On entry to South Africa, a visa is considered to be a visitor’s permit. The permit’s period of validity is calculated from the date of entry into the country and will be set out under the heading “conditions” on the visa label. You must ensure that you apply for the correct visa/permit. Entry in the country may be refused if the purpose of visit was not correctly stated.
Requirements for visitor’s visas differ from country to country (click here to see which countries are currently exempt), and the requirements are subject to change. As each application is treated as an individual case and you should make enquiries with your nearest South African mission or consulate abroad or any office of the Department of Home Affairs to see whether or not you are required to apply for a visa.
Remember that there is a fee charged for issuing a visa, and you should check the cost with the office as well as this is updated annually. The fee is payable in different currencies in different countries.
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 are obliged to put you onto a flight back to your home country.
Foreigners with long term status (work permits/permit residence) in the neighbouring countries who transit the Republic to return to their employment or residence are not subject to the transit visa, provided they are in possession of proof of their status.
South African visitors’ visas may be granted for:
Documents required to apply for a visa
Requirements for entering South Africa
You will need the following if you wish to visit South Africa:
Don’t forget that there are certain goods that you cannot bring into South Africa and other goods on which duties need to be paid.
For Customs requirements, click here.
For Agricultural requirements, click here.
There are frequent direct and indirect flights by major airlines from destinations throughout Europe, North America, the East and Australasia to South Africa.
From the United Kingdom to South Africa
From the United Kingdom, South African Airways and British Airways offer the most direct flights but there are numerous European Airlines offering the same flight. London to Johannesburg is an eleven and a half hour direct flight and London to Cape Town direct is twelve hours flying time.
From Germany to South Africa
From Germany, Lufthansa and South African Airways offer direct flights from Frankfurt and Munich to Johannesburg with a flying time of 10 hours and twenty-five minutes. During South Africa’s summer months Lufthansa also operate a direct flight from Frankfurt to Cape Town and Air Berlin from Munich to Cape Town.
From the USA to South Africa
From the U.S.A the only direct flight to South Africa is with South African Airways and Delta Air Lines. SAA from New York (JFK) and Washington Dulles. Delta Airlines from Atlanta. Both Air Lines fly to Johannesburg.
From most other USA Destinations (e.g. Washington D.C., New York L.A., Miami or San Francisco) you can fly via a European capital with a European carrier such as British Airways, KLM, Air France or United. Alternatively some of the Middle Eastern carriers are also flying into the USA, such as Emirates and Etihad.
From Australia to South Africa
From Australia, Qantas offers direct flights from Sydney to Johannesburg and South African Airways offer direct flights from Perth. Total flying time is approximately 11 hours and 5 minutes.
Based on shortest flight times without disembarking – many, many others available.
Speak to your travel agent about getting the most convenient flights and cost effective flights for you.
South Africa’s major airports include:
Delegates should arrive at OR Tambo International
If you’d prefer to go it alone, remember that vehicles in South Africa are right hand drive and travel on the left hand side of the road. You will require an international driver’s license and a minimum of 5 years driving experience. Public roads in South Africa are well developed and well sign-posted. Hiring a private car, or 4×4 is quite affordable here. Cars and 4×4’s can usually be hired at the major airports across the country, while bigger or more specialised vehicles can be organised online ahead of time. It’s a fantastic was to get around, enabling you to explore at your own pace.
There are three kinds of taxis in South Africa. They are:
Private Shuttle Services – these are not readily available to be hailed down on the streets, but need to be arranged (via an app or phone call) ahead of time. They tend to be safe and efficient, and operate in most towns and cities. These are often a better option for smaller towns with limited services.
Public / minibus taxis – commonly used by local commuters, these taxis are not quite as reliable or safe as the private taxis. They can also be a little overwhelming for visitors to negotiate, so it’s often best to avoid using these unless you’re familiar with how they work.
Rideshare apps – Uber, Taxify and Bolt enable you to get transport via an app on your smartphone. They are gaining in popularity in urban areas with tourists and locals alike as they are more affordable, easier to hail and have a good reputation.
The Gautrain is an 80-km long mass rapid transit railway system that links Johannesburg, Pretoria and OR Tambo International Airport.
Gautrain offers two distinct train services: an Airport Service linking Sandton and Marlboro to the OR Tambo International Airport and a Commuter Service linking
Rhodesfield, Marlboro, and Sandton (east-west link) and Park, Rosebank, Sandton, Midrand, Centurion, Pretoria Central and Hatfield (north-south link). All stations with the exception of the Airport station have integrated car parking facilities.
The local currency is the rand – international shorthand ZAR and local shorthand R. The rand is made up of 100 cents. The note denominations are R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200; and the coins are 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.
South African banks enjoy a world-class status and are found abundantly in all major cities, towns and even villages. It is only in very rural areas that banks may be a little scarce, although there are still likely to be ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines) scattered around. Bureau de change facilities are also found throughout the country, and are well indicated.
The ATMs are linked to all major international networks, accepting Maestro cards, major credit and debit cards, and Cirrus cards.
Banks are usually open from 09h00 every day, but closed on Sunday. This may be a little earlier in major metropolises. They close at 15h30 during the week and at 11h00 on Saturdays. Note, though, that banks and bureau du change facilities in airports have adjusted their hours to suit the needs of travellers.
All of the major credit cards can be used in South Africa and are widely accepted. Cards with a chip will require the users to enter a PIN, as will debit cards.
All travellers that will need to use the foreign exchange facilities are reminded to carry your valid passports with you at all times, as you need to present these to the Forex desk. It is only legal to buy or sell currencies using authorised dealers.
VAT (Value Added Tax) is included in the price of almost everything that you will buy. Tourists have to pay this too. However, if you plan to take items worth more than R250 out of the country, you are likely able to claim this VAT back if you have a tax invoice for the goods. VAT is currently 15%.
South Africa occupies the most southern tip of Africa with its long coastline stretching more than 3 000 km from the desert border with Namibia on the Atlantic coast southwards around the tip of Africa and then north to the border of subtropical Mozambique on the Indian Ocean.
A subtropical location, moderated by ocean on three sides of the country and the altitude of the interior plateau, account for the warm temperate conditions. South Africa is a relatively dry country, with an average annual rainfall of about 464 mm. While the Western Cape gets most of its rainfall in winter, the rest of the country is generally a summer-rainfall region.
Temperatures in South Africa tend to be lower than in other countries at similar latitudes owing mainly to greater elevation above sea level.
On the interior plateau the altitude – Johannesburg lies at 1 694 m – keeps the average summer temperatures below 30°C. In winter, for the same reason, night-time temperatures can drop to freezing point or lower in some places. South Africa’s coastal regions are therefore relatively warm in winter. There is a striking contrast between temperatures on the country’s east and west coasts, owing respectively to the warm Agulhas Current and cold Benguela Current that sweep the coastlines.
The country shares common boundaries with Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Swaziland, while the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is landlocked by South African territory in the south-east.
South Africa is the Rainbow Nation, a title that captures the country’s cultural and ethnic diversity. The population of South Africa is one of the most complex and diverse in the world. Of the 51.7 million South Africans, over 41 million are black, 4.5 million are white, 4.6 million are colored and about 1.3 million Indian or Asian. About 51.3% are female, and 48.7% male.
The country is multilingual with 11 official languages, each of which is guaranteed equal status. Most South Africans are multilingual and able to speak at least two or more of the official languages.
South Africa has a well-developed healthcare system comprising of both public and private hospitals. Please ensure that you top up on medical insurance before leaving home.