South Africa Visa Application - Requirements,Cost,Processing Time & Interview Tips

To travel to South Africa you need to get a South Africa visa. Getting a South Africa visa is an easy process,all you need to do is to provide all the necessary requirement needed for the visa processing. So in this post you will get to  know the necessary South Africa visa requirements and the application process.


This post is to answer frequently asked questions such as

How to apply for a South Africa visa

Requirements to apply for South Africa visa

Cost of a South Africa visa

Duration to process a South Africa visa

South Africa visa interview tips


Documents required to apply for South Africa visa
Study Permit Documentation

        A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of intended visit

        BI-1738 application form.

        Payment of the prescribed fee 

        A vaccination certificate, if required by the Act

        Proof of financial means to cover envisaged living expenses during the sojourn in the Republic and to also pay for the tuition fees. This should be in the form of: 

- bank statements 

- cash available,
- or 
travellers’ cheques 

        Proof of medical cover 

        A cash deposit equivalent to the value of a return ticket.

        In the case of African students, an undertaking from the relevant government to take full responsibility of the student and to pay all costs, should it become necessary to deport the student 

        Medical and radiology reports 

        An unabridged birth certificate in the case of minors. 

        In the case of a minor, the particulars of the person in the Republic of South Africa who will act as the learner’s guardian and a letter from such person confirming guardianship

        Consent from both parents for your stay in South Africa, or from the parent who has sole custody, along with proof of sole custody

        An official letter from the educational institution, where you intend to study, confirming provisional acceptance and the duration of the course.

        Proof of medical cover renewed annually for the period of study with a medical scheme registered in terms of the Medical Schemes Act.

        If you are 18 years and older, a police clearance certificate from each country in which you resided for 12 months or longer since the age of 18 years is required. This should be submitted with the application or within three months of submission 


Documents for a South Africa visitor permit

        A passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of your intended visit 

        Your passport must have at least one unused page for entry / departure endorsements 

        A completed Form BI-84 (application for a visa) 

        Payment of the prescribed fee 

        A yellow-fever vaccination certificate (if required) 

        Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit 

        Two colour passport photographs
A return or onward ticket if you are travelling by air 

        If you have children (minors) travelling with you or joining in South Africa, you will need to provide the following additional documents 

        Unabridged birth certificate
Proof of guardianship or custody or 

        Consent from the guardian in the case of an unaccompanied minor 

        Proof of financial means to pay for your living expenses while in South Africa in the form of: 

        Bank statements
Salary advances
Undertakings by the host(s) in South Africa Bursary
Medical cover or 

        Cash available (including credit cards and travellers’ cheques)


What to know before applying for a South Africa visa

1) When planning your trip, do not make the mistake of thinking your travel agent or the airline will be able to tell you if you need a visa. Make sure you find out for yourself. You can find out if you need a visa by going to the U.S. State Department website:, there is a lot of terrific information to be found here including notes for Americans on safety and security overseas.

2) Make sure your passport has at least 4-6 blank pages, your visa won't need that many but many of the consulates require at least two blank pages; this is an easy excuse for them to give you a hard time. If you need more pages they're easy to get through the National passport processing office. You can find information the process on the State Department's website.

3) Make sure your passport isn't going to expire for a while. The passport's expiration date must be greater than six months from the date of entry for the visa you are applying for. If your passport does not meet the requirements, you must renew your passport.

4) Your visa application. This is where you really need the assistance of a good travel visa service. You'll find that many of the visa applications are quite confusing. There are language usage differences that may have you scratching your head. If you are not sure, ask, do not guess, errors on forms can be costly.

5) Passport photographs. This is one I had a particularly difficult time getting my boss to do. Go to your post office or perhaps you have a drug store or photo processing store that takes passport photographs, get them, and if you are traveling a lot get a lot of extra photos. Most often you are required to submit two passport photographs with your visa application. You may get away with only providing one, you may get away with submitting a digital you took and printed on photo paper. It's not worth the risk. Get the extra photos.

6) Include your travel itinerary. Most applications require you include your travel plans as proof of entrance and exit dates. This would be the itinerary you get with your tickets or from the airline/travel agent.

7) Make sure you make copies of everything you send the consulate or visa travel service. This doesn't include your passport of course, but it's a good idea to make a copy of the first page in your passport just for your records. You will be sending your passport with your visa application and other paperwork.

8) Include a copy of your driver's license. This isn't a hard and fast rule, but just good policy. A lot of times a country may require this but neglect to mention or they may decide they want more identification information. This is a "Just in Case" preventative measure.

9) Do not forget the fee. If you are using a visa travel service, most likely you can simply provide your credit card number. If you are not, you will most likely have to provide a check for their fee as most of the consulates do not take credit cards.

10) A key challenge is the decision to appear at the embassy or consulate or simply overnight your application and materials to the appropriate place. In many cases, there won't be an option as the embassy or consulate is too far to travel to. If you are doing this on your own and are able, it may be prudent to go to the embassy or consulate yourself. Base your decision dependent on your time and patience level.

11) Finally, hire a travel visa service. These services are reasonable, quick and experienced. You do not save money doing it yourself and you certainly don't save hassle. Your travel visa service is there to help you with everything from completing forms to emergency turn-around times. Don't just go with any service. Investigate. I recommend Visa HQ, for their experience and customer service.



Processing time for a South Africa visa
The normal processing period is 10 days.

Cost of a South Africa visa


Fees applicable only in the United States

        Visitor's, Business, Medical Visa $36.00

        Business Permit $127.00

        Corporate Permit $0.00

        Retired Person's Permit $36.00

        Study Permit $36.00

        Transit Visa $36.00

        Treaty Permit $36.00

        Work Permit $127.00

        Exchange Visa $36.00

        Permanent Residence $127.00

Validity of a South Africa visa
Study permits are valid for the duration of the program of study.

Visitor’s permits are issued on entry in South Africa and are for visits of three (3) months.

If your visit would exceed 90 days and you want to travel to South Africa to work, you will need to apply for a work permit instead of a visitor's visa. Requirements for a work permit are not the same as a visitor (tourist) visa.

The following nationalities do not require a visa to enter South Africa 
- African Union Laissez Passer, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile (only ordinary passport holders), Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany (except in diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of Germany in SA), Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Malta, Monaco, Namibia (90 days per year), Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama (only ordinary passport holders), Paraguay, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania (90 days per year), Trinidad & Tobago (only ordinary passport holders), United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (only ordinary passport holders), British Islands Bailiwick of Guernsey and Jersey, Isle of Man, British Oversees Territories (namely: Anguilla, Bermuda, 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 in diplomatic staff due to assume duty at the Embassy and Consulates of the USA in SA), Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia (90 days per year), Zimbabwe.

Also visas are not required by passport holders of:
- Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi who are entering the Republic as commercial heavy-duty vehicle drivers provide their visits do not exceed 15 days and on condition that they can produce a letter confirming their employment with a transport company on entry.

The same principle applies to Zimbabwean commercial heavy-duty vehicle drivers, except that their sojourn may not exceed 30 days at a time. The afore-mentioned does not apply to commercial heavy-duty vehicle drivers who transport goods for a South African transport company. Such drivers must be in possession of a valid work permit.

South Africa visa interview tips

1. Prepare a “grab bag” of documents frequently requested

Get a clearbook to hold all the documents that embassies usually require and make at least five copies of each of these documents. Usually, the embassy will need to look at the original copy for verification purposes and then just keep a photocopy. Make sure that your photocopies are clear. It will save you the trouble of having to photocopy another clearer copy while at the embassy

Documents to include in this clear book are:

·         Birth certificate (must be certified by the National Statistics Office)

·         Marriage certificate* (if annulled, you will probably need a copy of your Marriage Certificate annotated by the NSO certifying that the marriage was declared null and void.

·         Latest Income Tax Return

·         For business owners, include business permits, business license and (audited) financial statements

·         Photocopies of previous visas you have been issued

·         ID pictures: Different embassies will have different size requirements, so when you have your picture taken, have the picture reproduced in different size dimensions. I suggest you get one picture taken in the standard 2x2 white background and one in the US visa size and Schengen size. (Note that for all visa requirements, both ears must be shown and women should not be wearing earrings.)

·         Proof of income and ownership such as land titles and or car registration documents

Keep all your old passports with other visa stamps as reference. It may not fit in the clear book, but it should be made part of your visa app “grab bag.

2. Keep a list of the countries you’ve visited

Update the list of countries you've visited the way you would update your CV. Many embassies require you to list the countries you have visited within a certain number of years. Some embassies will specify a time frame, some will not, so it is best to start from countries you have visited from 5 years back. Keep a soft copy of this list in your computer and update it each time you travel.

3. Make a checklist of the visa application requirements – and triple check that!

When applying for a Schengen visa via the Italian embassy, for example, a checklist of requirements (which you can download along with the visa application form) is mandatory in the list of documents to be presented to the visa processing center. It is not a standard requirement for all countries, but a checklist is definitely a good thing to have on hand. Make one of your own if your destination country does not require it.

Double and triple check each requirement, line by line if you have to. It will be worth the trouble because there are varying specifications for each country.

Look out for fine print like required payment mode: Is a manager’s check required? Can you pay in Philippine pesos, US dollars or Euros? Tip is to pay in US dollars so you will not be subject to currency fluctuations. Remember to check for exact amount, e.g. if it says $58, bring $58 as some embassies will not offer change.

Double check the location of the visa processing centers as their addresses on the application forms may not be updated.

4. Have a standard template for letters of introduction to consuls

Embassies may require you to prepare a letter to the consul to introduce yourself and state your reason for travel. Make a standard template for this letter of introduction, save on your “Travel Docs” folder and just fill in whenever you need to apply for a visa.

This cover letter should have:

·         Header with your name, contact details and if available, your visa application reference number

·         Reason for travel

·         Duration of stay

·         Mention of other countries you have visited

·         How you will fund your trip

·         Day by day travel itinerary as an attachment

5. Make your travel agent your travel buddy

Find a travel agent you can trust and make him or her your travel buddy. She can act as a semi-one-stop shop and help you book tickets and hotels that you won't have to pay for yet (you will want to wait till you get the visa before paying for a ticket or hotel), and facilitate travel insurance.

Hope this post was helpful


Question tags

How to apply for a South Africa visa

Requirements to apply for South Africa visa

Cost of a South Africa visa

Duration to process a South Africa visa
South Africa visa interview tips

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