Ranked as the 6th most “megadiverse” country in the world and with 11 constitutionally recognized official languages, post-apartheid South Africa is popularly known as the “rainbow nation”. Characterized by a rich history of inclusivity, it is also the home of Nelson Mandela, one of the greatest political revolutionaries of the 20th century. For tourists, South Africa offers a range of experiences through its biodiversity and various opportunities to explore its rich cultural and historical heritage. Alongside protected status for various world heritage sites such as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park, today South Africa is also spearheading efforts towards ecologically responsible tourism initiatives.
With more than 15 million tourists visiting South Africa in 2017, it is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world for all kinds of travellers. Like other nations across the world, the visa policy of South Africa is broadly determined by the nature of the visit and grants visa exemptions to tourists from select nations. While most Indians (except for those with diplomatic and service passports) need to apply for both short-term and long-term visas, nearly all components of the visa application process can be completed through online portals for nominal fees. Below, we will look at the South Africa Travel Guide for the kind of visa that you apply for.
Now applying for visas have become a much easier process than it was about a decade ago. Most of the process is online and submitted documents are reviewed at physical and online portals such as VFS Global or the website of the Department of Home Affairs, South Africa. This is how you apply for a visitor visa to South Africa:
While each kind of visa entails slightly different and more specific documents depending on the nature and purpose of visit, the following are the set of documents that are absolutely essential for any short-term visa:
While short-term visas are processed in about 8-10 weeks, long-term visas and permanent resident permits can take anywhere up to 8-10 months. However, each application is uniquely assessed and it the general time-frame may vary from one application to another depending on the profile of the applicant and the nature and purpose of the visit.
You can check the status of your visa application and track its processing through either of the following ways:
You can enter your visa application reference number and date of birth at the VFS Global website to track your visa application status.
As seen above, there are various types of visas that one can apply for. In the case of South Africa, it is especially important to also clarify the nature and purpose of visit, and apply for you visa accordingly. In case that you have not applied for an appropriate visa, your application can get rejected or worse, you may even have to turn back from the port of entry in South Africa. In lieu of that you should have a rough knowledge of the kinds of visas that are available and choose which kind you wish to apply for, for your visit to Africa. There are broadly two kinds of visas that you can apply for when visiting South Africa i.e. short-term visas and long-term visas. Below, we briefly look at the different kinds of short-term and long-term visas, how to apply for them, the documents required, fees to be submitted and other details.
The short-term visa is also known as the visitors visa and is issued to all travellers wishing to stay in Africa for a period of upto 90 days. Of course, all travellers from nations that are exempt from the requirement for short-term visas need not apply for this. Below, we will look at the different kinds of short-term visas that are granted to travellers and visitors staying for periods of less than 3 months at a time.
1. Medical(Applicable only to Private medical facilities): Short-term medical treatment visas are issued to all tourists who are visiting South Africa for a period of equal to or less than 3 months for medical treatments.
2. Business Trip: Business visas are issued to all applicants who wish to visit South Africa for business purposes that may include business meetings, conferences and trade confluences or fairs.
3. Training: Such kinds of visas are issued to all those travellers who wish to visit South Africa for training purposes that does not involve them receiving payments. If they do wish to receive payments for work, they will need to apply for a work permit. In addition, they will also need to provide an attested proof of the registered company and a certificate approving the training program as a proof of accommodation.
4. Conferences, Seminars: These are visas that are issued to travellers who wish to visit South Africa for unpaid academic or business conferences.
5. Short-term Assignments: Visitor visas are also granted to short-term projects and assignments that are no longer than 90 days or 3 months.
6. Holidays and Family Visits: Visas taken for holidays and family visits to South Africa are exclusively for the purposes of leisure and recreational activities. Over and above the basic documents that need to be submitted for a short-term visa, applicants seeking a holiday visa to South Africa will also need to submit:
7. Sabbaticals and Research Work: These visas are specifically for individuals who wish to visit South Africa for academic sabbaticals and research work. In addition to basic documents, applicants also need to submit marriage certificates, radiological reports and clearance certificates from the police.
8. Dependants Visa: This type of visa is specifically for dependants of professionals visiting South Africa, such as an accompanying spouse and children. Over and above the list of documents needed for a short-term visa, applicants who are dependants must also provide parental consent affidavits for minors.
9. Visa for Charity Work: Individuals visiting South Africa for charity work not lasting for a period of not more than 90 days must get a short-term visa specifically for this purpose.
10. Film-Making: Individuals wishing to shoot or produce a film in South Africa need to obtain a short-term visa that will allow them to produce a film in South Africa within a maximum duration of 90 days or 3 months. Film-makers and producers wanting to make a film in South Africa will also need to provide recommendation letter(s) from film bodies or commissions in South Africa that clearly states the purpose and duration of their visit.
The duration of long-term visas vary depending on the nature and purpose of the visit but are in general necessary for any period of stay in South Africa longer than 90 days. Like the short-term visas there are various kinds of long-term visas such as the below. For long term visas, the required documents, specifications for photographs and payable fees (for some visas) are the same as for short-term visas. Importantly however, for all kinds of long-term visas, you will need to submit the application form DHA-1738.
1. Visa for Study: If you wish to study in South Africa, you can get a study visa by filling and submitting the BI-1738 (DHA-1738) application form. Study visas are issued by for study at higher education institutes for a duration not exceeding 4 years. Students seeking to study at school in South Africa, can avail visas where duration of primary school does not exceed 8 years and duration of secondary school does not exceed 5 years.
2. Treaty Visa: If you wish to participate in a program that has been sanctioned by your origin country and South Africa that exceeds a period of more than 90 days or 3 months, you can apply for a treaty visa.
3. Visa for Medical Treatment: Long-term visas are issued to patients seeking medical treatment in South Africa and are applicable for a maximum period of 6 months at a single stretch.
4. Relatives Visa: If you are an immediate family member, a close relative of a citizen of South Africa, you can avail of a “relative’s permit” that is valid for a period of up to 24 months. However, you can also seek extensions beyond 24 months.
5. Exchange Program Visa: Any individual who is a part of an educational and/or work exchange program with a university or learning institution in South Africa can avail of an exchange program visa that will let him/her participate in any exchange program lasting for more than 90 days.
6. Business Visit: Any foreign national who is seeking to establish a business enterprise or participate in an existing business enterprise in South Africa that will function for a duration that exceeds 3 months, will need to apply for and avail of a business visa. The payable fees for a business visa is INR 7892.
7. Work and Critical Skills Visa: A work visa (general work visa) and critical skills visa is provided to any contractual employee whose period of employment in South Africa will not exceed for a period of more than 5 years. The fees entailed in the applications for general work and critical skills visa is INR 7892.
8. Work Transfer Visa: Such visas are necessary for an employee who is transferred from one branch of a company to another, such as from an Indian to a South African branch. The fees for processing a work transfer visa is INR 7892.
9. Corporate Visas: Corporate visas are offered to any corporate entity who wished to employ a set number of skilled or unskilled workers in South Africa for a period not exceeding 5 years. There is no application fees for a corporate work visa.
10. Retiree Visa: As the name suggests, a retiree or retired persons visa is offered to any retired person who wishes to visit or stay in South Africa for a period exceeding 3 months. The processing fee for a retiree visa is INR 7892.
The basic fees for processing short-term visa is Rs.2207 only. Logistics fees for a visa processing generally range between Rs.2000 and Rs.2300 only. Visa fees are according to current exchange rates and can change without any prior notice.
No. Except for 52 nationalities that do not require a visa for visits to South Africa for a time period of less than or equal to 90 days, inhabitants of all other countries require a visa for any visit to South Africa.
2. Are Indian holders of diplomatic and service passports required to apply for visas?
No. Indians holding diplomatic or service passports are not required to apply for short-term visas i.e. for visits to South Africa for a duration of less than 90 days at a time.
It is necessary but not mandatory. Having a travel insurance policy handy is always good whenever something unforeseen befalls you, like accidents and baggage loss.
The best time to visit South Africa is somewhere during April and May.
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The following medical expenses are covered:
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Loss of passport and documents:
Reimbursement of actual expenses incurred in connection with obtaining a duplicate or fresh passport or reasonable cost of replacing/obtaining the stolen documents/ tickets if the passport belonging to the Insured / Insured Person be lost
Home Fire Insurance Contents & Home Burglary Insurance (contents):
Cover against any loss or damage of the Contents at Home of the Insured in India caused by Fire and Allied perils or through burglary and/or housebreaking while the Insured is on a trip abroad.
Hijack Distress Allowance
Payment of distress allowance in case of hijack of a common carrier for more than certain number of hours whilst on the trip. You can easily avail the allowance by filing a claim online through Travel Insurance cover online process.
Medical Expensesinclusive of Repartration and Emergency Medical Evacuation
If you are sick or injured during the journey, your medical expenses can prove to be costly. In such cases, Travel Insurance cover greatly helps. The insurance company also offers a cashless settlement with the network hospitals or you can also opt for the reimbursement process within 30 days of hospitalization.
Payment of legal costs and expenses incurred by the Insured towards claims from third Parties for compensation in respect of death or disablement arising due to an injury whilst on a trip abroad.
Payment of compensation if the Insured sustains accidental bodily injury during a trip resulting in death or Permanent Total Disablement or Permanent Partial Disablement within 12 months of occurrence of such injury.
Trip Cancellation/Or Interruption
Payment towards the non-refundable prepaid payments incurred on the trip being cancelled and additional cost of transportation in case of Interruption: due to medical problems, personal employment problems or natural disasters or other listed reason in policy wordings.
Reimbursement of additional expenses if trip is delayed beyond a period, due to airline problems, medical problems, personal employment problems or natural disasters.
Daily Allowance in case of Hospitalisation
Payment of daily allowance for the days the Insured is hospitalised beyond a specified number of days, as mentioned in the Policy Schedule, for which a valid claim is admissible under the Policy whilst on a trip abroad.Emergency Accommodation
Payment of compensation for the additional cost of emergency accommodation if the Insured/ Insured Person could not stay in the accommodation originally booked due to fire& flood, earthquake, storm, hurricane, explosion, outbreak of major infectious diseases.
During a trip there are chances of unfortunate events such as loss of checked in baggage, medical emergency, loss of passport that can spoil your international trip, be it business or leisure. Travel insurance can protect you from such events ensuring that you are left stuck in foreign land.