Visitor visas to South Africa scrapped for seven countries plus 3 more major changes in the pipeline


The Department of Home Affairs is introducing a number of changes that’ll make it easier for people to travel to South Africa.

The Minister and Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and Hon. Njabulo Bheka Nzuza respectively, announced these changes during the Home Affairs Budget Vote on 10 July.

Nationals from seven countries no longer need visitor visas when coming to South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs has decided to scrap visitor visas for seven countries in a bid to boost tourism. The seven countries added to the list of 175 already enjoying visa-free travel to South Africa are:

  • Qatar
  • United Arab Emirates
  • New Zealand
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Cuba
  • Ghana
  • São Tomé and Príncipe

Minister Motsoaledi said that the Department will immediately enter into discussions with these countries on how a visa-free regime will work. He added that the Department still has some homework to do for China, India and Nigeria, three countries whose combined populations make up close to 30% of the world’s population.

E-visas scheduled for full implementation in November

In the State of the Nation address in both February and June President Rhamaposa announced that the Department of Home Affairs will accelerate the implementation of South Africa’s E-visa regime.

This E-visa system will see tourists and visitors to South Africa as well as highly skilled individuals apply for their visas online. These visa applications will then be sent to a central adjudication for approval, with successful applicants receiving virtual visas.

The Department believes e-visas will combat visa fraud, make it easier for tourists to visit, and also make it easier for companies to acquire employees with critical skills.

The Department has already started testing the e-Visa system at Lanseria airport. The testing will end at the end of October and full production is anticipated to kick off in November 2019.

National Targeting Centre to identify undesirable and risky visitors

The Department is planning to establish a National Targeting Centre to work in conjunction with the Advanced Passenger Processing System already in existence.

The Advanced Passenger Processing System identifies undesirable visitors prior to boarding a flight from their destination. This enables the Department to stop undesirable visitors for purposes of national security.

The National Targeting Centre will act as a secondary control system by enabling the Department to do risk assessments on visitors after they’ve boarded flights. In his speech during the Home Affairs Budget Vote Deputy Minister Nzuza said this system is critical to ensure that undesirable and risky visitors are kept at bay, to create a secure environment for South Africa.

E-gates to ease travel for South African citizens

The Department is working with ACSA (Airports Company South Africa) to establish an e-gates system that’ll register individuals as trusted travellers.

Deputy Minister Nzuza said that ‘trusted travellers’ means ‘South Africans who are bona fide citizens who are not flagged on the stop risk engines’. With these individuals moving through e-gates, border control will have more capacity to speedily handle visitors.

The Department’s hope is that the use of e-gates will rank South African airports higher with the international community making the country a desirable destination for doing business.

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