South Africa Visa Requirements and How To Apply

Jan 23, 2023

8 min read

If you're a US green card holder traveling to South Africa, you might need a visa. I'll list the important information first.

Do US green card holders need a visa? If your country of nationality doesn't allow visa-free travel to South Africa, then yes.

Type of visa required: Tourist Visa (evisa or Embassy visa, depending on your nationality).

Visa processing time: 3-5 business days.

Visa cost: Approximately 87 USD. You can also see the amount on the online before you pay.

Do US citizens need a visa? No.

What Is The South Africa Online Visa?

Eligible passport holders can now apply online and receive the approved visa by email. In addition, you can apply for the South African eVisa if you're traveling for tourism (tourist visa) or business purposes.

The visa for tourism is usually valid for 90 days which means that when you enter South Africa, you can stay there for up to 90 days. However, you have to leave before your visa expires.

The government launched the South Africa eVisa in February 2022 for travelers from 14 countries. The South African Government will add more countries to the list soon.

Famous Clifton beach In Cape Town South Africa

Everything You Need To Know About The South Africa Visa

Before we jump into the application process, let's take a look at some important information you need to know about the visa for tourism purposes.

Do US Green Card Holders Need Visas For South Africa?

Your nationality will determine if you need a South Africa Visa. To see if you can travel without a visa, go to the South African visa website.

Visitors from more than 100 countries who want to visit South Africa must obtain a visa from one of the South African diplomatic missions (paper visas):

These countries include:

Algeria, Burkina, Burundi, Central African R., Congo, Côte, d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Faso, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, Tunisia, and other countries.

With traditional applications, you must apply in person at a South African Embassy or Consulate, provide biometric data, and hold a passport at least valid for 1 month after they depart from South Africa (and with at least one blank page).

Who Can Apply For A South Africa e-Visa?

Passport holders from 14 countries can now apply for a South Africa eVisa. The eligible countries in 2023 are:

Cameroon, China, DR Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Uganda.

Other countries, including Australia, Canada, the United States, and all EU member states, could soon be added to the list. Until then, travelers from these countries need to apply for a traditional embassy visa for South Africa.

Do US Citizens Need A Visa For South Africa?

No, you don't need a visa. The united states of America is part of the visa-exempt countries. This means that you don't need a visa to visit South Africa for up to 90 days.

However, if your intended stay is longer than 90 days, you must apply for the appropriate visa.

What Countries Can Travel To South Africa Without A Visa?

There are over 50 nationalities who can enter the country without a South Africa visa for up to 90 days. The nationalities which are eligible for visa-free travel include:

Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Israel, Italy, Monaco, Qatar, Switzerland, Spain, Tunisia, United States of America, Zimbabwe, and many more.

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

Usually, the visa process takes 3 business days. Unfortunately, there are instances where it could take longer to process your visa. Therefore, I recommend waiting 5 business days before checking your status.

What Is The Visa Cost?

The cost of the e visa is around 87 USD. However, you'll be able to see the cost of your visa before paying.

How Long Is The Visa Valid?

The visa is valid for 90 days. This means that you can visit South Africa for 90 days or less, and you have the leave the country before it expires.

South Africa Visa Requirements

The visa requirements play a very important role in your application. If you or your documents don't meet the requirements, your visa will be rejected.

Let's take a look at the requirements:

What Are The Required Documents For A South African eVisa?

Foreign citizens need certain travel documents to apply for a South Africa Visa (visa requirements). You'll need the following travel documents.

  • A valid passport.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to pay for your day-to-day expenses during your stay (bank statements).
  • A return or onward flight ticket
  • Yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or passes through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

Passport Validity

Your passport must be valid for no less than six months beyond the date of your return (intended stay). You also need to make sure that there are at least two blank passport pages.

How Much Bank Balance Is Required For A South Africa Visa?

ZAR 3000 (approximately USD 173). You need to provide this balance on a bank statement when you apply for your visa This is to prove that you have enough money to cover the intended stay of your trip.

Elephant throwing sand on the plains of South Africa

How To Get A South Africa Visa

You can apply for your visas in two ways:

  • Online
  • At the Embassy or Consulate

I'll discuss both of these application processes next.

How To Apply For A South African EVisa

Applying for visas can be stressful. I know how it feels when you don't know what to do. That's why I'll provide a step-by-step guide, so you know exactly what to do during your visa application.

Step 1: Access the South African eVisa Portal

To start your visa application you need to go to the Department of Home Affairs website where you apply. You'll see four steps they give you: Create your profile, submit your online form, upload your documentation, and confirm secure payment. Start with the first step.

Step 2: Create your account

You need to provide your name, passport number, passport expiry date, email address, and password information. Then, they'll send you a verification email which you should use to activate your account.

Step 3: Choose your purpose of visit

You'll need to choose your purpose of visit from a list of options they give you. It'll look something like this:

Step 4: Complete the application form

You must complete the application form truthfully. Any incorrect information can cause your visa to be rejected.

You must provide information like your name, surname, date of birth, passport-type, occupation, contact information, etc.

You must also provide your physical address and the contact number of someone in your home country. Next, complete the financial and health declaration.

Step 5: Upload travel documents

Next, you need to upload all the relevant travel documents like a copy of your passport, a passport-size photo, and anything else they might ask for.

Step 6: Pay The Visa Fees

Last but not least, you need to pay the visa fees. They'll show you the amount you need to pay at the end of your application process. But, again, you can pay securely online with your debit or credit card.

You're done with your visa application! They will let you know via email if they accept your visa application. You'll receive an electronic visa via email when they accept your application. Then you need to print it out to present to the Immigration Officer at your port of entry.

How To Apply For A Visa For South Africa In Person

Only a handful of countries can apply for a visa online. This means that if your country isn't on that list, you need to apply for a visa in person.

The first thing you need to do is gather all the required documents (mentioned earlier in the post). Then, you need to contact the South African Embassy or Consulate closest to you and book an appointment.

This is also the perfect time to find out whether you need to pay the visa fee with cash or a card. You can also ask some questions for some additional information.

On the day of your appointment, make sure you're there at least half an hour before your chosen time slot (don't forget all your documents). During your appointment, you'll need to answer a few questions about your travels and give your biometrics, submit your documents, and pay the visa fee.

You're done! Now you just have to wait for the Embassy to process your South Africa visa. They will contact you via email when your visa is approved.

What Should I Do At The Airport With An Electronic Visa For South Africa?

Once they approve your visa request, you'll receive your e-Visa by email or you'll need to pick it up at the Embassy or Consulate. Once you arrive at your South African ports of entry, you must show your travel document and valid visa (the visa issued to you) before entering. You'll need to hold proof of a return flight ticket and proof of sufficient funds.

The passport (or other eligible ID) must be the original passport you used to apply. The South African authorities will decide if you can enter the country after examining your travel document and (if applicable) your luggage.

At border control, it is important to collaborate with the South African officers and answer all questions they may ask. After all, they are the people who decide whether or not you'll be entering South Africa.

Cape Town city view in South Africa

That's all!

Now you know everything you need to know about getting a South Africa Visa. If you have any lingering questions you can check out our FAQ section.

Written By: Laliq Schuman
Fact Checked By: Richard Nathan

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Obtain A Multiple-Entry eVisa To Visit South Africa?

**Yes88, you can. Passport holders from eligible countries can choose between a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa during your application process.

What Is The Difference Between A Multiple Entry Visa and A Single Entry Visa?

A single entry visa means you can only enter and exit the country once. Whereas a multiple entry visa allows you to enter and exit the country more than once.

Can I Get A Refund If I Don Not Use My eVisa?

No, you can't. If you do not use your e-Visa, you forfeit your fees. To my recollection, all visas have a no-refund policy, which means that if you receive your visa and don't use it, you can't ask for your visa fees back. The same goes for when you submit your application, and you want to cancel your visa. Once you submit your application, you can't get your money back.

When Will My eVisa Expire?

Each country has different entry rules into South Africa. Therefore, the validity of an e-visa to South Africa varies by type and country. Validity periods are stated when they issue the e-visa.

Can I Get A Refund If Officials Reject My eVisa?

No, you can't. The application is processed with a negative outcome, and the e-Visa application fees are non-refundable.

What Are The Types Of Visas For South Africa?

There are different types of vvisas to apply for when you travel to South Africa, depending on your purpose of travel. The different types of visas for foreigners are:

  • South Africa Visit Visa: Citizens from non-visa-exempt countries and foreigners from visa-exempt countries who wish to stay in South Africa for longer than the exemption period can apply for a South Africa Visit Visa.
  • South Africa Business Visa: The South Africa Business Visa allows eligible foreigners to enter for a maximum of 90 days to work or invest in the South African economy (business purposes).
  • South African Work Visa: The work visa is for foreigners who possess specific skills in demand. The duration of the visa depends on the type of work the applicant will do.
  • Study Visa: Students going to South Africa to study full-time can obtain a Study Visa by completing a BI-1738 Form. The visa allows people to study at all levels of education (primary, secondary or tertiary education).
  • South Africa Relatives Visa: Immediate family members of a South African citizens or resident can apply for a Relatives visa. They are issued for a maximum period of two years at a time.
  • Retired Persons Visa: People who want to retire in South Africa can apply for Retired Persons’ Visas. Applicants need to meet the financial requirements and complete Form BI-1738 to relieve their valid visa.
  • Transit visa: Applicants can apply for a transit visa if you're transiting through South Africa on your way to a third destination.
Is South Africa Safe?

There are some things to look out for when visiting any country. In South Africa, there are some scams, theft, and hijacking. However, tourists are rarely the targets for these crimes, but keep an eye out.

If you're a victim of a crime you can contact the local police at 10111.

South African Ports Of Entry

The list of South African Ports of entry you can use to enter South Africa are:

  • Cape Town International Airport.
  • OR Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg).
  • King Shaka International Airport (Durban).
South African Embassy In The United States

There are a few South African Embassies in the United states. Applicants can apply for their valid visas at either one of the embassies. This includes:

Should I Apply For A New Visa Even Though I Already Had One?

If your last visa is expired, then yes. You need a new valid visa that has not expired that suits the purpose of your intended visit. This is also your "ticket" into entering South Africa.

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