Which new visa amendments have been introduced for travellers to and from South Africa?

New visa changes have been introduced to address concerns raised by tourists, South African travellers and stakeholders in the tourism sector regarding revisions to regulations introduced over the last year. The announcement was made jointly on Friday, 23 October by the Tourism Ministry and Jeff Radebe, minister in the Presidency for planning, monitoring and evaluation.

The changes are as follows:

  • In countries with no South African mission or embassy, Home Affairs will accept applications by registered mail, applicable to tourist and medical visitors only.

  • These postal applications will then be finalised with the capture of traveller biometrics: finger prints and photos at selected port entries to South Africa – OR Tambo/Johannesburg, King Shaka/Durban and Cape Town international airports.

  • Parents (SA citizens) of South African children travelling out of the country will still be required to submit the current child-travel requirements, including parental consent affidavits as a means to protect the minors. These documents are valid for six months. Full details and identification and biometric information of SA parents will also be printed in the children's passports; therefore they will not be required to carry the birth certificates. Home Affairs, however, does advise that this form of identification still be carried as an additional form of proof to the full set of documents as described above.

  • For inbound travellers (non-SA citizens), proof of original birth certificates or certified copies will only be required during the application process, as this is in line with practice in many other countries. However, it is advisable to carry at least copies and other supporting documents when entering South Africa (please consider note below regarding the introduction of the new regulations). 

  • The South African government has agreed to amend the law that includes the term "unabridged birth certificate", changing it to "birth certificate containing parental details".

  • Home Affairs is currently considering the possibility of issuing long-term multiple entry visas for frequent business travellers.

The Department of Home Affairs said that "the mandate issued by government to the department is to put in place the necessary legal instruments to give effect to this decision. The status quo will remain until such time the [department] has provided a legal instrument for this category of travellers. In the meantime travellers are encouraged to comply."

NB: As per 15 December 2015, according to the EU Chamber's knowledge, airlines and embassies have yet to be advised on the new rules via a directive from government or the department ad continue executing the old regulations which comprised an unabridged birth certificate, certified copies of the absent parent's passport (if applicable) and a consent letter, certified by a commissioner of oath (if applicable).