South Africa

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Visas and Permits for South Africa

If you have chosen to go to South Africa, go well prepared! Not only is the national immigration legislation important for expats moving to South Africa: you should also brief yourself on the provinces and how to find a new home after your move. We have all the info on these topics.

Paying A Visit? You Might Need a Visitor’s Visa

If you’re planning on visiting South Africa before your move, you might require a visitor’s visa. However, due to the South African government encouraging tourism, many citizens from a large number of nations don’t require one. Take a look at the list of countries exempt from visas. Please note that citizens of certain countries are only exempt if they hold a diplomatic, official, or service passport.

Temporary Residence Visas: Organization Is Key

Naturally, you will need more than just a tourist visa to be able to settle and work in South Africa. There are various types of temporary residency permits available, some of which we have listed below.

If you have any inquiries about any of these permits, as well as applications, you should direct them to the South African mission in your home country. The Department of International Relations & Cooperation offers a complete list with links to the websites of the respective representations.

South Africa offers a total of eleven temporary residence permits catering to different groups of people. Depending on your age, occupation, or the purpose and duration of your stay will determine what options are available to you. Some of the available permits are, tailored to retirees, exchange students, or people wishing to undergo medical treatment in South Africa. The permits most relevant to expat interests are briefly explained below.

Everything about Work and Business Visas

General Visa Requirements

All of the temporary residence visas mentioned below share the following common requirements for submitting your visa application:

  • at least two blank pages in your passport (the passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your intended return date from South Africa)
  • application form DHA-1738
  • medical report BI-811
  • radiological report BI-806
  • proof of financial means (usually in the form of three recent bank statements stamped by your bank)
  • birth certificate
  • police clearance certificate
  • proof of round-trip ticket or a deposit for a return ticket

Business Visas

If you would like to establish a new business in South Africa, you will need this visa. Some of the prerequisites include

  • a business plan detailing the specifics of your upcoming venture;
  • an investment of more than 2.5 million ZAR;
  • a strategy on how you plan to employ a work force consisting of at least 60 percent of permanent residents of South Africa.  

Furthermore, you must be registered with the respective board or council of the trade you want to work in and register with the South African Revenue Service.

General Work Visas

Although this is the most common work visa expats apply for, there is a lot of work to be done in advance, so being organized is key to a successful application.

In addition to the aforementioned general requirements, you will need your credentials to be translated and confirmed, then later verified by the Qualifications Authority. Moreover, you will also need to supply a signed work contract, documentation on the purpose and duration of your stay, and proof that no South African citizen could be found to fill your future position.

Critical Skills Work Visas

 If you have exceptional skills or qualifications which are hard to come by in South Africa, this might be the visa for you. You need to provide proof of your skills in the form of letters from your former employers or testimonials from an acknowledged South African academic or cultural institution. To find out whether your skill is currently in demand, please consult the DHA’s critical skills list.

Intra-Company Transfer Visas

This rather self-explanatory visa is issued to employees of a foreign company who are transferred to a branch in South Africa. According to the new immigration law, the visa lasts for four years and is not extendable. To apply, you need to include your original employment contract, as well as written confirmation of your transfer and your future occupation from both parties.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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