The visa application process in South Africa includes a load of paperwork, appointments made way in advance and a heavy fee.
• South Africa has one of the world`s `weakest` passports.
• This means we often need to buy pricey visas to visit foreign countries.
• Here`s how much you`ll pay for several popular tourist visas and how long they take to process.
South Africa has one of the world`s weakest passports when it comes to visa-free travel. Depending on which global passport ranking system you use, the South African passport sits in around 50th position. This means about 86 countries, including several popular holiday destinations like the USA, UK, and Europe, require travellers to apply for sometimes onerous and expensive pre-departure visas.
Although there are a few visa-free destinations for South Africans and some e-visa options, many countries still require South Africans to pay upwards of R3 000 for a short-stay holiday visa.
The process is also seldom easy. Visa applications usually require an appointment, made long in advance, to visit a consulate or agency in person.
Then, you`ll likely need to collate a raft of paperwork specific to the destination, including but not limited to proof of accommodation, travel insurance, personal financial history, employment details, proof of residence in South Africa, and at least two non-smiling photographs with dimensions correct to the millimetre.
This all goes into an encyclopaedic-sized pile that you`ll lug to your appointment and shift across the table with nervous anticipation to a dispassionate official.
And despite your application containing everything short of a hair sample, having only the best intentions of spending too many of your hard-earned rands, and filling your Instagram feed with only glowing accounts of your destination country, the process is almost always unnerving.
Remarkably, the process is also one you`ll have the pleasure of paying for - often, a lot.
The amount depends on the destination, the type of visa, and the length of your stay.
If the country has appointed an agency to handle applications, you`ll almost certainly have to pay a premium in addition to the standard visa rate - and face a raft of unnecessary upsells, like more comfortable seating and expedited processing.
If your destination country uses an agency to handle applications, you`ll probably have no choice but to use that channel - although some offer a cheaper fee for going direct. Agency fees vary according to the destination, even within the Schengen Zone, and you can typically expect to pay between R150 and R1 000 on top of the standard visa fee.
Still, many of us are willing to pay the above price to experience the joy of travel. And if you follow the instructions, it should all go off without too much hitch.
Here`s how much popular visas cost for South Africans in 2023:
Note: Visa fees, processing times, appointment wait times, and requirements are subject to change frequently. Check consulate or agency websites for the latest details.