Entry requirements

The information on this page covers the most common types of travel and reflects the UK government’s understanding of the rules currently in place. Unless otherwise stated, this information is for travellers using a full ‘British Citizen’ passport.

The authorities in the country or territory you’re travelling to are responsible for setting and enforcing the rules for entry. If you’re unclear about any aspect of the entry requirements, or you need further reassurance, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

South Africa has implemented biometric capturing at all ports of entry. This may result in some delays at land borders. You should allow additional time for border crossings.

Passport validity

Technically, your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days (page 9) from the date of exit from South Africa. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entry to South Africa. To avoid problems at the airport on arrival we recommend you meet this requirement.

Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages when you present it at immigration to enter or leave South Africa.

Visas

If you’re visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you don’t need a visa.

For more information on visas contact the South African High Commission or the South African Department of Home Affairs.

Dual citizenship

If you hold South African citizenship, you must enter and exit South Africa on your South African passport. It is an offence under South African law for a citizen aged 18 or over to enter or leave the country on a foreign passport.

Travelling with children (under 18)

Since 2015 all parents travelling to South Africa with children had been required to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate upon arrival. Additional documentation was required for children travelling with only one parent.

On 1 December 2018, the Immigration Act was amended. For visitors from visa exempt countries, including the UK, the revised requirements are:

  • Minors travelling with both parents do not need to supply additional documentation. However, South Africa reserves the right to request a copy of the child’s unabridged birth certificate before granting entry, at the discretion of individual immigration officers. Whilst South Africa has said it is unlikely documentation will be requested, we recommend that you’re prepared to present the unabridged birth certificate to border officials upon arrival, particularly where one parent’s surname differs from the child’s. The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parent’s details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars will not be accepted.

  • Minors travelling without one or both parents may be required to show a full unabridged birth certificate, in addition to other documentation set out in the 2015 Immigration Act. We recommend you are prepared to present this documentation upon arrival. These requirements are set out under Section 4, part C, Amendment of regulation of the Regulations.

  • School groups should use this consent form in addition to the documents listed above. This special dispensation applies to all schools registered with the Department for Basic Education and its equivalent abroad.

The South African Department of Home Affairs have confirmed that no supporting documents will be required by people in direct transit through a South African International Airport. Check with your airline to see whether you need to go through immigration on arrival in South Africa, collect luggage and check in again. If you do go through immigration you’ll need to provide the correct documentation.

Contact your nearest South African High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip.

You can order a full unabridged birth certificate online via GOV.UK if your child was born in the UK, or the South African Department of Home Affairs website if your child was born in South Africa.

Residence permits

New rules were introduced in May 2014. If you live in South Africa, you must have valid residence permit in your passport when entering and leaving the country. Receipts issued by the Department of Home Affairs for applications to renew a permit will not be accepted by the immigration authorities. For more information, contact the South African High Commission or the South African Department of Home Affairs.

Overstay Appeals

Instead of fining individuals whose permits have expired, you may be declared undesirable and prevented from applying for a visa to re-enter South Africa for a period from 12 months to 5 years. For more information, contact the South African High Commission or the South African Department of Home Affairs.

If you’re issued a Form 19 ‘declaration of undesirability’ at the port of entry/exit and you wish to appeal against the decision you should email overstayappeals@dha.gov.za and include a copy of your current passport, copy of your last valid visa, copy of the Form 19 and proof of application for a residence permit.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are generally accepted for entry into South Africa on emergency medical grounds only. If you’re planning to enter the country on an ETD, you’re advised to check requirements with the nearest South African embassy, high commission or consulate before confirming your travel plans. ETDs are accepted for airside transit and exit from South Africa but should have a minimum of 6 months validity.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.