If you arrive in South Africa without a visa, the law requires immigration officers to refuse you entry and to put you on a return flight. You must therefore apply for a visa at your nearest South African Consulate, Embassy, Mission, or designated diplomatic or consular representative (see below).
If you cannot go in person, you can hire an immigration lawyer or ask someone else to do it for you; but it must be accompanied by your passport in order to endorse it.
You should apply for a visa a minimum of four weeks before your date of departure for South Africa. It takes around ten days on average to process a visa application, but can take much longer. South African visas currently cost R425 (US$30 or €28), but this is subject to change and you should check the South African Department of Home Affairs website for the current price. Exchange rates are also subject to change.
If you submit from within South Africa, you will have to do so through a Visa Facilitation Centre (VFS), which requires a fee of R1350. A visa application form can be downloaded here and must be completed and signed by all applicants over the age of 18.
Visa application forms can no longer be downloaded from the South African Home Affairs website, however they are available online via private companies.
The form must also be accompanied by the following:
- Your original passport, valid for at least 30 days after the returning date, with at least two free pages;
- Two passport photographs;
- The fee (see above);
- Full details of your intended travel arrangements, including air tickets, accommodation details and documentation indicating your financial resources for the stay.
Minors travelling independently of their family must accompany their visa application with certified consent from both parents or guardians, signed before a public notary.
People over 60 must provide proof of medical insurance when applying for visas and this may also be required in other cases. If a yellow-fever vaccination certificate is required, you must hand it in with your application.
For further information about visas, contact your nearest South Africa office abroad (Consulate, Embassy or Mission). A full list of these offices is available on the South African Department of Foreign Affairs website.