Free Visa Entry for South African Nationals

As of October 2023, the South African passport is ranked 97th in the world, according to the VisaGuide Passport Index. While South African citizens enjoy visa-free access to 73 countries, there are still numerous destinations worldwide that require them to obtain visas in advance. 

South African citizens enjoy visa-free

This comprehensive guide will provide you with essential information about where South African passport holders can travel without a visa, countries issuing eVisas, those offering visas on arrival, and countries with visa requirements.

Global Passport Rankings

The Passport Index identified the Singaporean passport as the most powerful in 2023, with a remarkable visa-free score of 192. Germany, Italy, and Spain share the second position with a score of 190. Several first-world countries, including Austria, Finland, France, Japan, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden, jointly occupy the third spot with a score of 189.

In stark contrast, Afghanistan finds itself at the bottom of the list with a meager score of 27, below Iraq and Syria with scores of 29 and 30, respectively. These rankings illustrate the significant disparities in passport power across the globe.

South Africa's Passport Ranking

South Africa's passport falls within the middle of the pack, occupying the 52nd position out of 104 countries, with a visa-free score of 106. Notably, South Africa has gained three positions compared to the previous year when it was ranked 55th. This improvement means that South African passport holders can travel to 106 countries across the globe without requiring a visa.

Global Passport Rankings

Additionally, two countries, Burundi and Gambia, have recently allowed visa-free entry for South African passport holders. This development expands the range of destinations accessible to South African travelers without the need for visas.

Passport Price Changes

It's worth noting that obtaining a South African passport has become costlier in recent times. In November of the previous year, the cost of passports within the country saw a significant increase, jumping from R200 to R600 for standard passports and reaching R1,200 for larger books designed for frequent travelers.

Minister of Home Affairs Aaron Motsoaledi explained that the price hike was a necessary adjustment, given that the previous change in passport fees occurred a decade ago. Even with the increase, South African passport fees remain relatively affordable compared to those in many other countries.

Passport Reputation and Security

Beyond the financial aspect, South African passports have faced challenges concerning their reputation and security. Criminal syndicates have exploited these documents for money laundering, human trafficking, and facilitating corruption in various countries. The South African government views the increase in passport fees as a measure to bolster the document's reputation on the global stage and enhance security measures.

Visa-Free Travel for South African Passport Holders

South African passport holders can enjoy visa-free travel to 73 countries and territories as of October 2023. These destinations include:

Visa-Free Travel

Visa-Free Destinations

  • Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Cayman Islands
  • Chile
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Falkland Islands
  • Fiji
  • Gabon
  • Georgia
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hong Kong
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Kosovo
  • Lesotho
  • Macau
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Mauritius
  • Micronesia
  • Montserrat
  • Mozambique
  • Namibia
  • Nicaragua
  • Niue
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Qatar
  • Réunion
  • Russia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Suriname
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Gambia
  • Togo
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • Uruguay
  • Vanuatu
  • Venezuela
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Eswatini

Please note that even for visa-free travel, you must have a valid passport, typically valid for at least six months after your departure date. Additionally, you may be required to purchase travel health insurance as mandated by the destination country.

Countries Issuing eVisas to South African Citizens

South African passport holders can obtain eVisas for travel from the following 29 countries:

  • Albania
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bhutan
  • Burkina Faso
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Ivory Coast
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Guinea
  • India
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Moldova
  • Mongolia
  • Myanmar
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Papua New Guinea
  • São Tomé and Príncipe
  • South Sudan
  • Tajikistan
  • Türkiye
  • Uganda
  • Ukraine
  • Vietnam

The eVisa application process closely resembles that of a traditional visa. However, the key advantage is that eVisa applications can be submitted online, including the payment for the visa. Upon approval, you will receive an email confirmation and a printable document, which you must carry with you when crossing the border.

Visa on Arrival for South African Passport Holders

South African citizens have the option to obtain a visa on arrival for 28 countries, making last-minute travel plans more accessible. These countries include:

Form Application Information Data Word

  • Armenia
  • Bolivia
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Cabo Verde
  • Comoros
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Indonesia
  • Jordan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Madagascar
  • Maldives
  • Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Nepal
  • Palau
  • Rwanda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Saint Helena
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tuvalu

Visas on arrival are typically granted upon entry at the respective country's airport or border checkpoint. It's advisable to check the specific visa requirements and fees for each destination before your trip.

Visa Requirements for South African Citizens

South African citizens must obtain a visa to enter 96 countries worldwide. While document requirements may vary depending on the destination, the following documents are commonly required:

Playful guy traveler holding passport, flight tickets and paper airplane

  • A valid South African passport (along with a photocopy)
  • Completed visa application form
  • Recent passport photos (usually not older than six months)
  • Proof of travel health insurance covering your entire stay
  • Evidence of payment for the visa fee
  • Detailed travel itinerary outlining your planned destinations
  • Letter of invitation (if applicable)
  • Proof of a return flight ticket to your home country
  • Confirmed accommodation bookings
  • Proof of sufficient funds to cover your expenses during your visit
  • Civil status documents such as marriage certificates or birth certificates
  • Important: Having a previous criminal history may lead to visa rejection, so it's crucial to address any potential issues beforehand.

Exemptions from Visa Requirements

Some individuals are exempt from visa requirements when visiting South Africa. These exemptions include:

  • Holders of a national South African passport, travel document, or document for travel purposes.
  • Staff members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) holding a SADC laissez-passer, valid for bona fide official business visits of up to 90 days or when in transit.
  • Holders of United Nations Laissez-passers and individuals involved with UN agencies, including their spouses, dependent relatives, and other household members. This exemption applies for visits to South Africa for periods not exceeding 90 days, including official visits, transit, or accreditation for placement at a UN mission in South Africa.
  • Members of foreign military forces attending military-related matters with the South African National Defence Force.
  • Foreign commercial heavy-duty vehicle drivers from specific countries when entering South Africa for employment with a transport company abroad. They may be issued visitor's visas with work authorization for a duration not exceeding the visa exemption period of their respective country (usually up to 90 days at a time).

Additionally, with effect from 1 August 2022, all ordinary passport holders of Pakistan and Bangladesh intending to enter South Africa en route to another country are required to possess a port of entry or transit visa, as applicable.

Applying for a Visa

The process for applying for a visa typically follows these steps:

  • Make an Appointment: Initiate the process by scheduling an appointment at the visa center in South Africa. Be prepared for the possibility of a lengthy waiting period to secure a meeting with the embassy or consulate.
  • Prepare Documents: To ensure a successful application, gather all the required documents, which may include your passport, completed visa application form, health insurance documentation, and more. Some documents may need verification through an apostille stamp or certification by a foreign office.
  • Submission: Submit your visa application, attend any necessary interviews, and provide biometrics if required. Translate your documents, as necessary, to meet the embassy or consulate's requirements and ensure they bear an apostille stamp, if possible. The processing time for visa applications can span several weeks.
  • Multiple-Country Visa: If you possess a valid visa permitting entry to multiple countries, there is no need to apply for a new visa for each destination. Ensure you meet the visa requirements for each country you plan to visit.

Documents Required for Visa Applications

While document requirements may vary depending on the country you intend to visit, South African citizens often need to submit the following documents when applying for a visa:

  • Valid South African passport (along with a photocopy).
  • Completed visa application form.
  • Recent passport photos (typically not older than six months).
  • Proof of travel health insurance covering your entire period of stay.
  • Confirmation of payment for the visa fee.
  • Detailed travel itinerary outlining your planned destinations.
  • Letter of invitation (if applicable).
  • Proof of a return flight ticket to your home country.
  • Confirmed accommodation bookings.
  • Evidence of sufficient funds to cover your expenses during your visit.
  • Civil status documents, such as marriage certificates or birth certificates.

It's important to note that visa applications can be rejected if you have a previous criminal history, so it's crucial to address any potential issues before applying.

Conclusion

While South African passport holders enjoy visa-free access to a substantial number of countries, planning international travel requires careful consideration of visa requirements for each destination. 

It's advisable to consult the respective embassies or consulates and verify the most up-to-date information before planning your trip. Understanding the visa requirements and exemptions can help South African citizens have a smoother and more enjoyable travel experience around the world.

FAQ

Is Indian visa-free for South Africans?

No, South African nationals are required to obtain a visa to visit India. However, visas for South African citizens to India are issued free of charge, and the passport must be valid for at least six months from the date of departure.

Which African country is visa-free for Indian?

Indian citizens can visit several African countries without a visa. Some of the African nations that allow visa-free access for Indians include Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde Islands, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Comoro Islands, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea-Bissau, Tanzania, Togo, Sierra Leone, and Somalia.

Can South Africans travel to the USA visa-free?

No, South African citizens are required to obtain a visa to travel to the United States. They cannot enter the USA visa-free.

Is obtaining a South Africa visa easy for Indians?

Yes, Indian nationals can apply for a South African eVisa from India, making the visa application process more convenient. The eVisa system streamlines the application process for Indian travelers wishing to visit South Africa.

Do South African citizens need a visa for the UK?

Yes, South African citizens planning to visit the United Kingdom for tourism, business, or to visit family and friends must apply for a UK Standard Visitor Visa. This visa is necessary for short stays in the UK and is a requirement for South African travelers to the United Kingdom.

To obtain a South Africa eVisa

  • Step1: Complete the online application by providing your passport details.

  • Step2: Submit payment online using a credit card.

  • Step3: Monitor your email for confirmation of payment and receipt of your eVisa, which will be sent electronically.

Get eVisa to South Africa