Travel visas for SA

What to know before you go

Travel Visas for SA

Whether it’s the airlines, immigration or banks, international travel is tightly regulated – meaning there are many rules that could trip up an unwary traveller. Considering also how these rules and regulations vary depending on the carrier and country, it’s even easy for seasoned travellers to get it wrong, leading to the frustration of being turned away at the border and incurring unforeseen expenses.

Thankfully, despite how complicated the application process can be, the result is fairly predictable if you take some fairly easy-to-follow precautions, according to Brent Willie of Global Visas South Africa, a specialist in global immigration and visas for a range of popular destinations.

Do you have a valid passport?

Everyone knows that a valid passport is a prerequisite for international travel. A lesser known requirement is that many countries, such as the United States and most in Asia, require that the passport be valid for at least six months beyond the date of travel. So when you check the expiry date on your passport, you should also factor in the minimum passport validity period if your destination has one.

South Africa requires at least one blank page in your passport for endorsements as well as yellow fever certificates if your journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

Do you have the right visa?

With your valid passport, you can apply for a visa for the country of destination. If you do require a visa, book a visa appointment and allow time for it to be processed. The time it takes to issue a visa and the documents you need to provide, varies depending on the destination, so it is best to check on the specific requirements for your destination.

Do you need a transit visa?

Often, travellers find cheaper fares that route to the final destination through other countries. In these instances, it’s important to check whether you require a transit visa, which would allow you to continue your onward journey through these other countries. Whether you need one depends on a number of factors including the country, the length of the transit period, and whether you are transiting airside (within the airport) or landside (leaving the airport). As it can get tricky and expensive, you’ll want to make sure you get this right.

Willie further warns against fibbing on visa application forms. “The point of a travel visa application in most instances is to confirm your identity and establish the purpose of your trip, so it’s also inadvisable to provide false or misleading information,” he says.

False or misleading information, if discovered, can lead to your visa being denied, which can affect whether your future visa applications for travel to other destinations are approved.

"Just in case you are asked to provide further information to support your application, keep handy any other documents that confirm your identity, your financial means (such as bank statements) and anything that shows you intend to return to your country of origin at the end of your trip. It’s advisable to travel with these documents, too, in case the immigration officer at your destination asks for them," says Willie.

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