South Africa Tourist Visa

Before planning to visit South Africa for a holiday, all foreign citizens should check whether they require a visa for tourism. The current process of applying for this visa type involves visiting an embassy or consulate to submit an application in person, although this will soon change with the implementation of the South Africa e-Visa.

south africa tourist visa

What is a South Africa tourist visa?

The tourist visa for South Africa, also known as the visit visa or visitor’s visa, is one of the types of visa for South Africa that foreign citizens must obtain in person from the nearest embassy or consulate of the country before traveling.

In addition to purposes of tourism, visitors’ visas for South Africa may also be granted for the following motives: 

  • Visiting family or friends
  • Business visits
  • Medical treatment
  • Scientific research
  • To take part in a conference, or charitable or voluntary activities
  • To take part in a sporting event
  • To undertake a study program with a maximum duration of 3 months
  • To join a spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study permit
  • To join parents who are in South Africa on work or study permits
  • To work on a TV/film production
  • To join a fiancée/ fiancé in South Africa, with the intention of marrying within 90 days.

A tourist visa for South Africa is usually granted for a maximum stay of 3 months in the country. To visit the country for longer periods, or a purpose other than those listed above, it may be necessary for the traveler to apply for a different type of embassy visa for South Africa.

Who needs a tourist visa to enter South Africa?

At the moment, there are up to 50 nationalities who do not need a tourist visa for South Africa if they are planning a stay for tourism for up to 90 days.

These citizens are simply able to present a valid passport upon arrival in South Africa to gain a visa-free tourist stay in the country.

However, all other foreign nationalities must obtain a visa for South Africa from an embassy or consulate, regardless of whether they intended to enjoy a tourist stay or visit for another purpose.

Although it is currently necessary to submit a tourist visa application at a South African embassy or consulate in the traveler’s country of residence, this will soon change with the introduction of the tourist eVisa for multiple eligible nationalities, expected to be in early 2021.

South African tourist visa requirements

In order to meet the South Africa visa requirements and submit a tourist visa application, it is necessary to have the following supporting documents:

  • Passport valid for at least 1 month from the intended date of arrival in South Africa, containing at least 2 blank pages for entry/exit stamps
  • Statement and/or document confirming the travel purpose and length of the intended stay
  • Two colour photographs of the traveler, passport-style
  • Proof of a return or onward flight, if traveling by air
  • A certificate of vaccination against yellow fever (if applicable)
  • Payment method to process the tourist visa fee.

It is also necessary to provide proof of sufficient funds to cover the entirety of the intended stay in South Africa, which may take the form of:

  • Bank statements
  • Bursary
  • Confirmation of a host guarantor in South Africa
  • Medical cover
  • Salary advance
  • Available cash (including credit cards and travelers’ cheques).

Additionally, those planning to travel to South Africa for tourism with family should be aware that it is necessary to provide proof of guardianship or custody while applying for a tourist visa for children, or, in the case of an unaccompanied minor, consent from the guardian of the child.

How to apply for a South Africa tourist visa

In order to apply for a visit visa for South Africa, it is currently necessary to make an appointment at the relevant South African diplomatic mission and complete a B1-84 form to bring along to the consular interview alongside the necessary supporting documentation.

Once all the necessary documents have been presented at the consulate, it will be necessary to pay the tourist visa fee before the application can be processed. As it may take several weeks for an embassy visa to be successfully approved, applicants are advised to apply well in advance of their intended entry date.

However, this application process is expected to become much more streamlined with the introduction of the tourist eVisa for South Africa for multiple nationalities in 2021. The simplified online South Africa visa application form will first be available as a pilot scheme for Kenyan and Indian citizens before being rolled out to other countries.

FAQ about the tourist visa for South Africa

Whether a foreign citizen requires a visa for South Africa or not depends on both their nationality and the expected length of stay and purpose of travel.

While a number of nationalities are able to travel visa-free to South Africa for tourism for stays of between 30-90 days, other foreigners must obtain a South African tourist visa in advance from an embassy or consulate.

Nevertheless, this lengthy process is expected to be greatly expedited with the upcoming launch of the South Africa tourist eVisa, which will eliminate the need to submit supporting documentation in person.

The government cost of a South African visitors’ visa varies depending on nationality, the exact purpose of the intended trip, and whether the applicant requires a single entry or multiple entry travel document. The price will be given in South African Rand (ZAR).

At the moment, it is currently necessary to pay a tourist visa fee in a postal money order or certified bank check payable to the relevant South African General Consulate (SACG) or embassy. However, once the South African tourist eVisa application is launched, it is expected that applicants will be able to pay the fee online using a valid credit or debit card.

Whether a foreign citizen requires a visa for South Africa or not depends on both their nationality and the expected length of stay and purpose of travel.

While a number of nationalities are able to travel visa-free to South Africa for tourism for stays of between 30-90 days, other foreigners must obtain a South African tourist visa in advance from an embassy or consulate.

Nevertheless, this lengthy process is expected to be greatly expedited with the upcoming launch of the South Africa tourist eVisa, which will eliminate the need to submit supporting documentation in person.

In order to apply for a South Africa visit visa from an embassy, it is necessary to have a passport valid for at least 30 days from the intended date of arrival in the country and provide 2 colour passport photographs of the traveler.

Applicants are also required to have a document or statement and/or confirming their purpose of travel, proof of sufficient funds to cover the intended stay, proof of a return or onward flight booking, and a yellow fever vaccination certificate (if coming from a yellow fever country).

At the moment, most embassy tourist visas for South Africa are granted as single-entry travel documents that allow a total stay of up to 90 days for tourism.

However, once the tourist eVisa system has been fully implemented, it is expected that the South Africa visa online may be granted as either a single or multiple entry visa.

This will depend on both the nationality of the applicant and their reason for visiting South Africa. It is expected that applicants will need to indicate whether a single or multiple entry visa will best suit their needs when completing the electronic visa form.

The government of South Africa has decided to expedite the process of obtaining a South African tourist visa by implementing a simple online application form to allow the visa to be issued exclusively online.

This will eliminate the current need to visit a South Africa embassy or consulate in person to apply for a tourist visa by presenting a range of supporting paper documentation and is also expected to greatly reduce the processing times for a tourist visa.

The tourist eVisa application is expected to be first launched in February 2021 for Indian and Kenyan citizens before being rolled out to other nationalities.

Yes, it is possible to request a South African visa extension for a tourist visa by visiting in person the nearest office of the South African Department of Home Affairs.