Visa requirements

Depending on your nationality, and the purpose and duration of your visit, you may not need a visa to visit South Africa.

If you are subject to visa requirements, you must apply and receive your visa before your departure for South Africa. 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 by law to refuse you entry to South Africa and to place you on a return flight to your country.

If you intend to stay in South Africa for 90 days or less

If you hold a national passport (diplomatic, official or ordinary) or a travel document for any one of the following listed countries/territories/international organisations, you do not need to apply for a visa if you intend to stay in the country for 90 days or less:

  • African Union laissez-passer
  • Liechtenstein
  • Andorra
  • Luxemburg
  • Argentina
  • Malta
  • Australia
  • Monaco
  • Austria
  • Netherlands
  • Belgium
  • New Zealand
  • Botswana
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Brazil
  • Paraguay
  • Canada
  • Portugal
  • Chile (only ordinary passport holders)
  • San Marino
  • Czech Republic
  • Singapore
  • Denmark
  • Spain
  • Ecuador
  • St Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • France
  • Switzerland
  • Germany (except diplomatic staff assuming duty at embassy and consulates of Germany in South Africa)
  • Tanzania (90 days per year)
  • Trinidad & Tobago (only ordinary passport holders)
  • Greece
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • British overseas territories: Anguilla, Bermuda, British Antarctic Territory, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Montserrat, St Helena and dependencies (Ascension Island, Gough Island and Tristan da Cunha), Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands, the Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands and the Turks and Caicos Island
  • United States of America (except diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the embassy and Consulates of the USA in South Africa)
  • Italy
  • Uruguay
  • Jamaica
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia (90 days per annum)
  • Japan
  • Zimbabwe

If you intend to stay for 30 days or less

If you hold a national passport (diplomatic, official or ordinary) or a travel document for any one of the following listed countries/territories/international organisations, you will not need to apply for a visa if you intend to stay for a period of 30 days or less, or are in transit:

  • Antigua and Barbuda  
  • Barbados (only ordinary passport holders)
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bolivia
  • Cape Verde
  • Costa Rica
  • Cyprus
  • Gabon
  • Guyana
  • Hong Kong (only with regard to holders of Hong Kong British National Overseas passports and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports)
  • Hungary
  • Jordan
  • Lesotho
  • Macau (only with regard to holders of Macau Special Administrative Region passports)
  • Malaysia
  • Malawi
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Mozambique
  • Peru
  • Poland
  • Seychelles
  • Slovak Republic
  • South Korea (Democratic Republic)
  • Swaziland
  • Thailand
  • Turkey

Exemption for diplomatic officials and service passports

Holders of diplomatic, official and service passports of the following listed countries do not require visas for the period indicated, or if in transit and provided that visa exemption status has not been withdrawn by the Department of Home Affairs:

  • Albania (120 days)
  • Algeria (30 days)
  • Angola (90 days)
  • Belarus (90 days)
  • Benelux states (90 days)
  • Bulgaria (90 days)
  • China (PROC) (30 days) (only diplomatic passport holders)
  • Cyprus (90 days)
  • Comoros (90 days)
  • Croatia (90 days)
  • Cuba (90 days) (diplomatic, official & service)
  • Egypt (30 days)
  • Ghana (90 days)
  • Guinea (90 days)
  • Hungary (120 days)
  • India (90 days)
  • Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) (30 days)
  • Kenya (30 days)
  • Mexico (90 days)
  • Madagascar (30 days)
  • Morocco (30 days)
  • Mozambique (90 days)
  • Namibia (30 days)
  • Nigeria (90 days)
  • Paraguay (120 days)
  • Poland (90 days)
  • Romania (90 days)
  • Russian Federation (90 days)
  • Rwanda (30 days)
  • Senegal (90 days)
  • Slovak (90 days)
  • Thailand (90 days)
  • Tunisia (90 days)
  •  Vietnam (90 days)

General visa exemptions

Commercial heavy-duty vehicle drivers who:

  • Enter the country from Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi
  • Are visiting for not longer than 15 days
  • Produce a letter confirming their employment with a transport company on entry

The same principle applies to Zimbabwean commercial heavy-duty truck drivers, but each sojourn must not exceed 30 days. The aforementioned does not apply to commercial heavy-duty truck drivers who transport goods for a South African transport company. Such drivers must be in possession of a valid work visa.

Staff members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who:

  • Travel on SADC laissez-passers
  • Travel on bona fide official business
  • Stay for 90 days or less, or are in transit

Holders of United Nations (UN) laissez-passers who:

  • Intend to visit South Africa for 90 days or less
  • Visit the country for official business purposes
  • Are in transit
  • Are accredited for placement at a UN mission in South Africa for the duration of their accreditation
  • Are volunteers attached to UN agencies and travel on ordinary passports, provided they possess relevant letters or identification documents as personnel of a UN agency
  • Holders of UN laissez-passers
  • Volunteers attached to the UN
  • Persons involved in any UN agency
  • Persons performing services on behalf of the UN

Members of military forces attending any military related matters with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) are exempt from visa and study permit requirements, irrespective of their duration of stay, provided they are in possession of letters of invitation from the SANDF, as well as letters of consent from the military force of which they are members.

Work or study visa requirements

If you intend to be professionally active in South Africa or undertake any voluntary or paid employment or studies, you must apply for a work, work-seeker's or study permit. These permits are issued outside South Africa, and function as valid visas, 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. See: