Visa requirements for South African citizens are the pre-established rules and regulations that determine which documents will citizens of South Africa need to enter foreign countries.

Most countries still require South African passport holders to handle an Embassy-issued visa prior to their arrival. This may come inconvenient since the application process may require numerous supporting documents and the processing time may come up to even a few weeks long.

26 destinations offer an electronic visa option for citizens of South Africa to travel with. This makes the visa handling process that much easier since all that’s needed is a few minutes to complete the online application process from home while the approved document gets delivered to the traveler’s email address in PDF form.

29 countries make it possible for South African passport holders to handle their visas upon arrival at one of the border control checkpoints. This process still requires preparation prior to arrival and may be stressful to those travelers who do not like to handle such important documents at the very last minute.

The last type of entry available for South African citizens serves as the most effortless way to travel internationally and that is a visa-free entry. Currently, 58 destinations welcome South African passport holders without any visa on hand.

Detailed information on every type of visa/entry for South African citizens for international travels is available below, along with lists of countries that offer each visa/entry type.

Electronic visa

An electronic visa or an eVisa is an online travel authorization document that has been introduced by numerous countries in order to speed up the visa handling process, as well as increase security by prescreening all incoming visitors prior to their arrival.

List of countries offering eVisas for South African citizens

26 countries, all listed above, offer South African citizens an eVisa option to use for their international travels. To get an eVisa issued, South African passport holders must complete a quick and intuitive online application process that consists of three simple steps.

Most eVisa applications are approved by foreign countries within 72 hours and are then delivered to each traveler via email in the form of a PDF file. Next, all there’s left to do is to print the received file before departure.

Issued eVisa serves as a short-term travel authorization document that allows its holder to stay abroad for 14, 30, 90, or even 120 days. However, the most common option is a stay of 30 days.

South African citizens traveling abroad with eVisas can enjoy all leisure, business, or transit-related activities, including:

  • Going on vacation,
  • Making visits to one’s friends and family,
  • Attending business meetings, events, conferences, trade fairs, and seminars,
  • Taking a layover while reaching another final destination.

Visa on Arrival

A Visa on Arrival is a short-term travel authorization document that is obtainable upon completing the visa application process upon arrival at the selected destination. South African passport holders should prepare for applying for a VoA before their departure.

List of countries offering Visas on Arrival for South African citizens

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Bolivia
  • Cambodia
  • Cape Verde
  • Comoros
  • Ethiopia
  • Ghana
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Iran
  • Jordan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Laos
  • Madagascar
  • The Maldives
  • The Marshall Islands
  • Mauritania
  • Nepal
  • Palau
  • Rwanda
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Somalia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Timor-Leste
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda

29 countries make it possible for South African passport holders to obtain their visas upon arrival at one of the border control checkpoints.

To get a VoA issued, South African citizens should first check if there are any documents that need to be prepared for the application process to be completed. This needs to be done before departure.

Next, once already at the selected destination, travelers should go directly to the closest border control checkpoint and ask for a Visa on Arrival application form. The form must be filled out with the required information and double-checked for any misspellings, errors, or misinformation.

The completed form along with the required supporting documents should be submitted to the border control checkpoint. This may be connected with the need to wait in long lines and spend time handling official documents before being granted entry to the selected country.

Moreover, some destinations may require VoA applicants to take on further steps, such as covering the visa issuing fee, which may need to be done in cash using local currency or providing additional supporting documents.

Issued VoA makes it possible for its holders to stay abroad for a short period of time, usually up to 30 or 90 days, for all leisure, business, or transit-related reasons.

Embassy visa

An Embassy visa is a regular visa that can be obtained once an in-person application has been submitted to the appropriate Embassy or Consulate of the selected country to be visited. Traditional visas come in paper form and usually require applicants to provide numerous supporting documents to get one issued.

List of countries that require South African citizens to present a valid Embassy visa upon arrival

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bhutan
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brunei
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • The Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • China
  • Colombia
  • The Republic of the Congo
  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • The Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Gambia
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Iraq
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kiribati
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Lebanon
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Morocco
  • Nauru
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Niger
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • North Macedonia
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • San Marino
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • The Solomon Islands
  • Spain
  • Sudan
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Syria
  • Tonga
  • Turkmenistan
  • The United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vatican City
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

Currently, 90 countries make it obligatory for South African citizens to present a valid Embassy visa upon arrival. This means that visiting these destinations must be preceded by completing an application process for an Embassy visa.

It’s worth noting that this process may take even up to a few weeks depending on the specific destination. It’s best to start applying well in advance and pre-check all of the applicable requirements since they may differ in between its various types, depending on the applicant’s nationality, and more.

Thus, to apply for an Embassy-issued visa, first, collect the required documents and fill the application form with the necessary data. Double-check if you have complete paperwork and all the data provided is error-free.

Next, submit your application to an appropriate Embassy or Consulate, follow with the next steps, e.g., covering a visa issuing fee or undergoing a visa interview (if any are required), and wait for your visa to get approved.

An issued Embassy visa may allow its holder to stay abroad for a short or long period of time, depending on its specific type. Moreover, some countries also issue Embassy visas for purposes of work, studying, and even joining a significant other abroad.

Visa-free countries

There are 58 destinations that allow South African citizens to visit their territory visa-free. This gives South African passport holders great international travel freedom upon visiting these countries.

Check the list of visa-free countries for South African citizens.

Visa-free travel is the most effortless way to explore foreign countries since little to no preparations go into the process. What’s usually needed is simply a valid passport or a valid ID, depending on the selected country.

Some destinations may require additional documents to be provided to help further validate the purpose of the visit. Such documents may include proof of having booked accommodation for the stay, proof of having sufficient funds (e.g., in the form of a bank statement), or a copy of one’s return ticket.

Once already at the selected destination, citizens of South Africa can enjoy a short-term stay for leisure, business, or transit-related reasons.

Bogdan T

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