South Africa’s “new” e-visa platform — the real story


South African Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, has announced that the country’s new e-visa system will officially launch by March 2022.

However, government has been making promises about this programme since 2018.

The original e-visa pilot project was announced in March 2018 and has yet to service all the countries initially meant to be included in the beta phase.

Godongwana announced the new e-visa system during his November 2021 presentation of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), saying that it would become available to 15 countries in March 2022.

Expected to provide “much-needed support for the tourism sector”, the platform will significantly reduce processing times and requirements for visitors to enter South Africa, BusinessTech reported.

The countries that will be able to receive South African e-visas include:

  • Cameroon
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Iran
  • Mexico
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Uganda

The process is completed online and can be finalised within 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all the required documentation.

Those who may be missing one of the required documents can resume their application where they left off once they have the documentation.

The pilot project, launched in 2019, was intended to service 14 nations, including China, India, Kenya, and Nigeria.

Enoch Godongwana, South African Minister of Finance

“The decision to introduce e-visa was informed by observable benefits of this system. It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trading partners and Home Affairs officials,” the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.

However, at the time of Godongwana’s MTBPS presentation, the platform was yet to service all the countries initially announced.

The original e-visa platform was accessible here. At the time of publication, the webpage (and associated pages) were not accessible.

The DHA put up a notice during 2020 indicating that the Covid-19 was expected to significantly delay the e-visa project’s development.

Visitors who wish to travel to (or from) South Africa still face several barriers following travel restrictions enforced due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

As of 15 November, Skyscanner’s mapping tool shows that South Africa has 76 “major restrictions” when travelling from other countries.

These countries may have suspended travel, closed their borders to entry, or may have only made entry available to citizens.

There are also 32 “moderate restrictions” in place for South Africa, where travellers may have to quarantine upon arrival in the country.

While there is additional documentation required to travel internationally, some regions, such as the United Kingdom, only require proof of vaccination in addition to the standard visa requirements.

Now read: South Africa’s social grant disaster explained in one graph


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