26 September 2018

South Africa eases visa regulations for travellers!

South Africa has announced changes to its visa requirements in an effort to boost tourism and make business travel more conducive. The amendments, which are part of a broader economic turnaround programme announced by South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa last week, include new visa waiver agreements with more than a dozen countries across Africa, the Middle East and eastern Europe, the rules on traveling minors, the simplification of visa requirements as well as the introduction of long-term multiple entry visas and BRICS* visas. In addition, South Africa will pilot its e-Visa in New Zealand by April 2019 in a bid to improve efficiency of visa applications and will also pilot e-Gates at OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town and King Shaka International Airport (DUR) in Durban by 2019. South Africa is currently also finalising the development of a new Biometric Movement Control System, which will be piloted at Cape Town International Airport (CPT) in Cape Town and Lanseria International Airport (HLA) in Johannesburg.

Cape Town, Table Mountain, South Africa

Visa waivers:

Negotiations are being finalised to conclude visa waiver agreements for ordinary passport holders with the following countries, from respective regions:

  • Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Sao Tome & Principe, Tunisia, Saharawi-Arab Democratic Republic and Ghana.
  • Middle East: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait.
  • Eastern Europe: Belarus and Georgia.
  • Caribbean: Cuba
Travelling with minors:

Foreign nationals travelling to
South Africa will no longer be required to have unabridged birth certificates for their minor children upon arrival in South Africa, but it is strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation. Immigrations officials will only insist on documentation by exception - in high risk situations - rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries. Rather than denying entry where documentation is absent, travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent. While foreign nationals are exempted from presenting documentation, South African minors travelling abroad will still be required to prove consent or have a minor passport. [We recommend to better have the unabridged birth certificate on hand when travelling to South Africa!]

Simplification of visa requirements:

In a bid to simplify visa requirements for countries such as China and India,
South Africa's Ministry of Home Affairs will by October 2018, implement measures to fast track the processing of visas. The measures will include taking biometrics on arrival in South Africa; allowing visa applications via courier and issuing five-year multiple entry visas.

Long-term multiple entry and BRICS visas:

South Africa will issue long-term multiple entry visas in order to further ease movement of travellers. The type of multiple long-term visas include:
  • A three-year multiple entry visa for frequent trusted travellers to South Africa
  • A 10-year long-term multiple entry visa for business people and academics from Africa
Business people from BRICS* countries who require visas will be issued a 10-year multiple entry visa, within five days of application.

*an association of five major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

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