South Africa to introduce new e-visas this year

The Department of Home Affairs plans to extend its e-visa programme to a number of countries in 2021 in a potential boost for the tourism industry.

Presenting to parliament last week, the department said that the rollout of the e-visa system by the end of the 2021/22 financial year would be subject to lockdown regulations of earmarked countries due to Covid-19.

“A commitment at an operational level has been made to activate a number of selected countries with a functional e-visa system,” it said. “The annual target is that 10 countries – over and above the 4 countries which were identified for a pilot – would have an active e-Visa system by the end of the 2021/22 financial year.

As international travel starts to recover in the wake of Covid-19, Home Affairs intends to rollout the e-Visa system and service to visitors from China, India, Nigeria, Kenya and 10 other countries.

The full list of countries which could receive e-visas, subject to approval, includes:

  • Cameroon
  • DRC
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Mexico
  • Uganda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Iran
  • Philippines
  • Pakistan.

The rollout of more e-visas is expected be beneficial for both tourists and for the local economy as the system significantly reduces the amount of administrative time and requirements required for visitors to enter into South Africa.

The entire e-visa application process takes place online and takes around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.

Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date.

Travel restrictions 

While the expansion of the e-visa system will be welcomed by the tourism industry, South Africa still faces international travel restrictions from some of its key tourist markets.

mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 9 May, South Africa has 72 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place.

These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.

By comparison, there are currently 80 moderate restrictions in place on South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.

Less than 10 countries have ‘low-risk restrictions’ meaning that travellers likely won’t have to face enforced quarantine periods.


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South Africa to introduce new e-visas this year