It’s 2020 and those of us with Indian passports are still filling out visa paperwork to make our travel dreams come true. A visa on arrival for Indians in South Africa remains a far-fetched dream. And that sucks. But the good news is that a South Africa visa for Indians is not nearly as tedious as say, applying for a US visa on an Indian passport.
Even better news: it’s possible to get a South Africa visa on an Indian passport that allows a stay of upto 3 months! I jumped at that possibility and scored a 90-day multiple-entry visa for South Africa. It allowed me to slow travel through Cape Town, the Western Cape and Kruger National Park, and even hop over to Lesotho and back.
[Update Feb 2020] South Africa is reportedly piloting a South Africa e-visa for Indians, to be available for those who land at Lanseria and OR Tambo airports, both near Johannesburg. The e-visa applications are likely to open in April 2020!
Here’s everything you currently need to know about the regular South Africa visa for Indians:
Application form for South Africa tourist visa from India
The application process for a South Africa visa for Indian citizens begins on the VFS South Africa website – the official visa platform of the South African embassy in India. There are several types of short term visas available. If you’re visiting South Africa on a holiday, choose Short Term Visa >> Visitor Visa >> Holiday / Visiting Family-Friends / Sports Events.
The first step is to download the visa application form and fill it – in black ink and capital letters. I filled mine on PDF using the fill tool. It can also be printed and filled by hand. The forms asks for basic personal information and your expected travel details in South Africa. It’s also your chance to request for a multiple-entry visa. Save, print and sign the form.
Document checklist and visa requirements for South Africa visa for Indians
Once you’ve filled the application form, start gathering the usual documents required for most visas on an Indian passport. These include your passport, two photographs, proof of accommodation and flights, proof of funds, day to day itinerary and a cover letter.
Important things to note for the South Africa visa for Indians:
- Proof of funds: You need to show 3 months of bank statements, printed on a bank letterhead, signed and stamped by the bank. It’s a pain but unfortunately, online banking statements are not accepted. As per the VFS website, your bank statements should show a balance of atleast INR 14,000. I would advise showing substantially more if you plan to spend longer in South Africa.
- Cover letter: Surprisingly, VFS South Africa is very particular about the details included in the cover letter. I had to re-write and re-print mine for an exorbitant charge in the VFS building. Make sure your cover letter includes all of the following: your name, passport number, duration of visit, who will bear the expenses of the trip, physical address, contact details, designation and signature. I also explained my occupation in mine, and included valid visas on my passport.
- Yellow fever vaccination certificate: If you plan to travel to any yellow fever affected countries before or after South Africa, remember to get and carry a yellow fever vaccination certificate. I got mine in Bangkok way back when I was travelling to Ethiopia.
South Africa visa fee for Indians
Applying for a South Africa visa on an Indian passport – like any other visa applications – can be fairy frustrating. But there’s one relief. South Africa has waived off the visa fee for Indians for now!
However, we still need to pay a VFS logistics fee of INR 2000 – 2300, depending on the VFS centre where the application is filed. The fee is to be paid at VFS – in cash only.
Schedule an appointment at any VFS South Africa centre
Once your application form and documents are ready, make an appointment at the VFS centre closest to you to file your application. I was quite relieved that we don’t need to apply at the VFS centre closest to the address on our passport. I ended up applying without any hassles in Mumbai even though my passport address says Dehradun.
After submitting your application, you have the choice to collect your passport personally at the same centre when it’s ready. Or to courier it. Some centres allow a representative to collect it on your behalf. Either way, keep your collection receipt safely.
Note: The South Africa VFS centre doesn’t allow carrying laptops, battery backs and other electronics into the visa application room. Carry your documents in a transparent folder and put your phone on silent mode.
Visa processing time for South Africa visa on Indian Passport
The official visa processing time for the South Africa visa is minimum 5-7 working days. I received mine in a week. You can track your visa application here. It’s also possible to opt for a paid SMS-alert service.
If you’re collecting your passport in person, remember to carry an ID and the collection receipt.
Immigration in South Africa
I landed in Cape Town with my multiple-entry tourist visa. The immigration officer only asked some basic questions about my purpose of visit and duration of stay before stamping me in. It’s always a good idea to keep your return flight ticket and accommodation booking handy.
Good luck; South Africa awaits!
Have you applied for a South Africa visa on an Indian passport? Or do you plan to travel to South Africa soon?
Written with inputs from Remya Padmadas.
Also see my visa tips on an Indian passport for: