New e-visa system planned for South Africa – what you should know

 ·12 Nov 2021

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana has announced that South Africa will officially launch its new e-visa system in 2022.

Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Thursday (11 November), Godongwana said that the now completed system will be rolled out to 15 countries by March 2022, providing much-needed support for the tourism sector.

The rollout of more e-visas is expected to 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 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.

The Department of Home Affairs has previously said that it 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.

While major travel restrictions have largely been lifted across the world, people travelling to and from South Africa still face a number of hurdles.

mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 11 November, South Africa has 58 ‘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 39 moderate restrictions in place for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements which can include taking Covid-19 tests.

In a report published in July, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad) said that the world is unlikely to reach pre-Covid-19 international tourist arrival levels until 2023 or later. The group singled out South Africa in particular due to its heavy reliance on tourism and slower vaccination rate.

As with South Africa’s opening of borders, countries that do allow travel for leisure and tourism purposes do not do so unconditionally and will require travellers to either submit recent negative Covid-19 tests or be subject to a mandatory quarantine period.

Read: New ID system planned for South Africa

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