South Africa

Moving to South Africa?

Connect with fellow expats in South Africa
Join exciting events and groups
Get information in our South Africa guides
Exchange tips about expat life in South Africa

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 — Visitor’s Visas

In case you would like to get a first glimpse of your future home country before relocating there, you might want to travel to South Africa on a visitor’s visa. The South African government has made travel and tourism into the country fairly simple for citizens of a large number of nations: the list of countries exempt from visa is fairly long. Please note that citizens of certain countries are only exempt if they hold a diplomatic, official, or service passport.

Temporary Residence Permits

Of course, you will not be able to settle and work in South Africa by virtue of a tourist visa: you need to apply for one of the various types of temporary residency permits listed below. Inquiries on any of these permits, as well as applications, should be directed 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 twelve temporary residence permits catering to different groups of people, depending on factors such as their age, occupation, or the purpose and duration of their stay. Some of the available permits are, for example, tailored to retirees, exchange students, or people wishing to undergo medical treatment in South Africa. The permits relevant to expat interests are briefly explained below.

General Requirements for Your Permit

All of the following temporary residence permits share these common prerequisites (to be submitted at the time of your application):

  • at least two blank pages in your passport (the passport has to 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 bank statements
  • birth certificate
  • police clearance certificate
  • valid round-trip ticket or a deposit for a return ticket

Everything about Work and Business Permits

  • Business Permit: If you would like to establish a new business in South Africa, this is the permit you want. Some of the prerequisites are a business plan detailing the specifics of your upcoming venture, an investment in excess of 2.5 million ZAR, and plans to hire and employ at least five citizens or permanent residents of South Africa. Furthermore, you have to 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 Permit: If you cannot secure a quota work permit for whatever reason, this permit category might be a viable option. Please note, however, that there is a lot of work to be done in advance. In addition to your translated and confirmed credentials (verified by the Qualifications Authority), you 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 Permit: If you have exceptional skills or qualifications which are scarce in South Africa, you might want to give this permit a try. 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.
  • Intra-Company Transfer Permit: This rather self-explanatory permit is issued to employees of a foreign company who are transferred to a South Africa-based affiliate company. You need to include your original employment contract and 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. 

If there’s something you’re still not sure about, check out the InterNations Forum.

Sandro Pedace

"With InterNations, you'll meet interesting expats wherever you go - both online and offline."

Stephanie Gainsbourg

"InterNations provided me with an "entrance" to the expat circles of Pretoria, so to speak, and helped me get to know other French expatriates. "

Global Expat Guide

Top Articles Expat Guide