South Africa Visa Application and Requirements For US Citizens

Last Updated : Oct 2, 2023

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In this post, I'll provide an overview of the South Africa tourist visa application process, including requirements, processing times, costs, and more, to help you plan your trip with ease.

Do US citizens need a visa for South Africa? No, you don't.

Type of visa required for other nationals: Tourist Visa

Tourist visa price: USD 47

South Africa Tourist visa processing time: 5 business days to 4 weeks.

If you'd like to find out more about the South Africa visa, read on!

Do US Citizens Need A Visa For South Africa?

No, you don't. If you're a US citizen, you don't need to apply for a visa before traveling to South Africa. 

Do I Need A Visa If I'm A US Green Card Holder?

It depends on your country of nationality. If your country of nationality is part of the visa-exempt countries, you don't need a visa. If your country of nationality is not part of the visa-exempt countries, you need to apply for a South African Visa. 

Be sure to check the list of visa-exempt countries.

What Is A South African Tourist Visa?

Tourist Visas are for international travelers who wish to visit South Africa for a short period for tourism. This visa is only valid for 90 days.

A visa simply states that your application has been approved at a South African embassy, consulate, or Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and that the consular officer has determined that you are eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose.

The tourist visa will allow you to travel to a South African port of entry. An immigration official will determine if you can enter the country and how long you can stay for your particular visit.

There are two other types of tourist visas individuals can apply for. I will discuss these tourist visas later.

What Purposes Will Allow Me To Apply For A South African Tourist Visa?

When traveling to the beautiful country of South Africa, you can apply for a South African Visitors visa for the following purposes:

    Visits to friends and family.

    Tourism purposes.

    Business purposes.

    Spouse to join another spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study permit.

    Children to join parents who are in the Republic of South Africa on a work or study permit.

    Fiancée/ fiancé to join her or his partner with the intention of marrying in 90 days.

    Study purpose, keep in mind the maximum stay is 3 months.

    Charitable activities.



    Work in the production of a show or movie.

    Medical purposes, the maximum stay is 3 months.

    Sports events.

What Documents Are Required For A Tourist Visa?

A few documents are required when you apply for your South African Visitors Visa. If these documents aren’t included in your application, the application process can be slowed down, or in extreme cases, your application won’t be accepted.

You will need to provide the following documents:

    A passport valid no less than 30 days after the expiry date of your visit to South Africa.

    A completed Form BI-84. This form is the application form for your visitor's visa.

    Documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit.

    Two passport photographs (in color).

    A return flight ticket.

    If you have children traveling with you to South Africa, you will need to provide proof of guardianship or custody and their birth certificates.

    Proof of sufficient funds in the form of bank statements, medical care, or salary advances.

Remember to attach all your travel documents to your application.

A Valid Passport

When applying for the South African Visitors Visa, you’ll need to ensure that your passport is valid at least 30 days after the expiry date of your visit to South Africa. If your passport is close to its expiry date, be sure to renew your passport before applying for your visa. 

Documentation Confirming The Purpose Of Your Visit

Documentation confirming the purpose of your visit is required, so the embassy knows why you want to travel or visit South Africa. These documents will also show how long you intend to stay. 

A Return Flight Ticket

The return ticket is needed to show when your visit to South Africa will come to an end. This is also to show that you intend to leave South Africa before or the day your tourist visa expires. 

Proof Of Financial Means

Proof of financial means is required so the embassy can ensure that you can cover the costs of your day-to-day life in South Africa. It also shows that you can afford to buy your flight tickets needed to fly to and from South Africa.

How To Apply For A South Africa Visa At An Embassy

The application process for a visa at an Embassy can be stressful. However, if you follow my step-by-step guide, you'll have your visa in no time.

Step 1: Determine if you need a tourist visa 

South Africa has visa-free agreements with some countries, so check if your country is on the list. If your country is not on the list, you will need to apply for a tourist visa.

Step 2: Gather the required documents 

You need to gather all the required documents mentioned earlier in this post. Keep in mind that additional documents may be required depending on your circumstances.

Step 3: Submit your application 

You can submit your application in person at a South African embassy, consulate, or visa application center. You'll need to submit all the required documents and the visa application form.

Step 4: Pay the visa application fee 

You will need to pay a non-refundable visa application fee. The fee varies depending on your country of origin.

Step 5: Wait for your application to be processed 

The processing time for a South Africa tourist visa can vary, so applying well before your intended travel dates is best. You can track the status of your application online.

Step 6: Collect your visa

If your visa is approved, you must collect it from the South African embassy, consulate, or visa application center where you submitted your application. In addition, you will need to provide your passport and visa application receipt.

If you don't want to apply through an Embassy, you can always apply for a South Africa online tourist visa. However, only twelve countries are eligible to apply for the e visa. So, make sure you're eligible.

An Overview Of The South African Visa

This section will cover everything else you need to know about applying for a valid visa to South Africa.

What Are The Costs For A South African Tourist Visa?

The visa fee is USD 47. This is for the application fee. Although this is the cost as it is today, it is possible that the costs can change throughout the year. Be sure to check the visa application fee before applying for your South African visa.

How Long Does It Take To Process A South Africa Visa For USA?

Anywhere from 5 business days to 4 weeks. Unfortunately, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa is sitting with a massive visa backlog which will only be cleared in the middle of 2024.

What Is The Validity Of A South Africa Tourist Visa?

The visa for South Africa is usually valid for 90 days.

Can I Extend My South Africa Tourist Visa?

Yes, you can. A holder of an SA Visit Visa can apply for one extension per visit. The rule is that an extension should be applied for 60 days before the visa expires. After that, extensions can be applied for up to an additional 90 days.

What To Expect At Immigration When I Arrive In South Africa

When you arrive at immigration in South Africa, you can expect the following:

Passport Control 

You will need to present your passport to a border control officer, who will check your visa, passport, and other documents to verify your identity and the purpose of your visit. You may also be asked questions about your stay in South Africa, so be prepared to answer truthfully and provide supporting documentation if required.

Biometric Data Collection 

South Africa requires biometric data (fingerprints and a photograph) from all foreign visitors over the age of 5 years. You will be directed to a biometric booth where your fingerprints will be scanned, and your photograph will be taken.

Baggage Collection 

After completing passport control and customs, you can collect your baggage from the designated area. Ensure you have collected your luggage before leaving the baggage collection area.

Additional Screening 

In some cases, immigration officers may ask for additional screening or documentation. If this happens, it's important to remain calm and cooperative while providing the requested information.

Overall, arriving in South Africa can be a straightforward process as long as you have the necessary documentation and are prepared to answer any questions from the immigration officers.

That's It!

Now that you know everything about the tourist visa, go on and apply! Go and enjoy the rich culture of Durban and the amazing view of table mountain in Capetown or any of the other wonders South Africa has to offer!

Government Sources:

The information of this blog post came from reliable sources like the Department of Home Affairs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Passport holders of the following countries do not need to apply for a visitor visa when entering South Africa. The visa-exempt countries are:

Andorra, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Paraguay, Portugal, San Merino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan (Republic of China), Uruguay, United States of America (USA), and Venezuela.

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