We all know what a visa is, it’s that thing that is stamped on our passport at the embassy, that allows us to travel. However, did you know that it’s not every time you need to travel as a South African that you need a visa? Some of you may be shocked, and some may already know and you just want to see what countries offer this opportunity to South Africa. Whichever side you’re on, you’d be glad you read this article.
A visa is an administrative entry restriction placed by the authority of states, on non-citizens who wish to enter the country. The visa determines the nature, duration and freedoms allowed during your stay in the country. The funny thing is that historically, the visa was a document given to traders who had arrived at a country’s borders and wanted to go through. However, now it is given to everyone and needs to be applied for in advance because it can be a long process.
Ordinarily, you need to have a visa before you can enter into another country, however, exemption schemes exist. An exemption scheme is a scheme that seeks to exempt foreigners from the requirement of having a visa before one can enter a foreign country.
It could take the form of a reciprocal agreement, which could stem from common membership of an international organization, like the one existing within the European Union, or it could be through common visas, where countries that are part of a group issue one visa which is valid for entry into all the countries within the group, such as the Schengen visa which basically includes the whole European Economic Area, and is valid for tourism, family visits and business.
Countries usually impose visas for security reasons, to prevent illegal migration, and for reciprocity where visa restrictions have been placed against their own citizens. People from poor or politically unstable countries are usually the ones who have visa restrictions imposed on them because they are considered the most likely to easily migrate.
Countries may grant visa-free entry to citizens of a country because their country is a low-security risk, because of diplomatic relationships between two countries, because of positive conditions in the country whose citizens are being granted visa-free entry, or because citizens from that country have a lower risk of overstaying or violating visa terms. So usually, the amount of countries you can get visa-free entry into is an indicator of the diplomatic, political and economic strength of your country.
So, how powerful is your South African passport? The Henley Passport Index is a global ranking of countries according to the travel freedom of their citizens, and it ranks South Africa the 53rd nation in terms of travel freedom, which is a very impressive figure given that we have 195 countries in the world.
Currently, with your South African passport, you can enter an impressive 114 countries in the world, either visa-free or visa on arrival, for a certain amount of days. As a South African, you have free visa entry into
- Brazil for 90 days;
- Antigua and Barbuda for 1 month;
- Argentina for 90 days;
- Costa Rica for 90 days;
- Ireland; Vanuatu for 30 days;
- Bahamas; Barbados for 6 months;
- Chile for 90 days;
- Belize; Venezuela for 90 days;
- Benin for 30 days;
- Haiti for 3 months;
- Botswana for 90 days;
- Guyana for 3 months;
- Saint Kitts and Nevis for 3 months;
- Nepal for 90 days;
- Jamaica; Ecuador for 90 days;
- Dominica for 6 months;
- Colombia for 180 days
- Saint Lucia for 6 weeks;
- Guatemala for 90 days;
- Malawi for 90 days;
- The Dominican Republic for 30 days and a tourist card must be purchased on arrival;
- El Salvador for 90 days;
- Zambia for 90 days;
- Peru for 180 days;
- Namibia for 3 months;
- Fiji for 4 months;
- Nauru Georgia for 90 days within 180 days;
- Paraguay for 90 days;
- Micronesia for 30 days;
- Rwanda for 90 days;
- Grenada for 3 months;
- Nicaragua for 90 days;
- Uruguay for 90 days;
- The Philippines for 30 days;
- Honduras for 90 days;
- Panama for 180 days;
- Lesotho for 30 days;
- Israel for 90 days;
- Malaysia for 90 days;
- Mozambique for 3 months;
- Tanzania for 90 days;
- South Korea for 30 days;
- Mauritius for 90 days;
- New Zealand for 90 days;
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for 1 month;
- Singapore for 30 days;
- Zimbabwe for 3 months;
- Swaziland for 30 days;
- Trinidad and Tobago for 90 days;
- Thailand for 1 month when you come via air / 15 days when you come via land.
These countries require just a visa on arrival from South African citizens:
- Indonesia for 30 days;
- Bolivia for 90 days;
- Madagascar for 30 days;
- Armenia; Tunisia for 1 month;
- Comoros; Mauritania; Jordan for 30 days;
- Guinea-Bissau for 90 days;
- The Maldives for 30 days;
- Burundi for 30 days, obtainable at Bujumbura International Airport;
- Cambodia for 30 days;
- Oman; Iran though conditions apply;
- Palau for 30 days;
- Ethiopia; Gabon where a visa not required for children under 16;
- Botswana; Djibouti; Samoa for 60 days; Zambia;
- Senegal for 3 months;
- Rwanda; Saint Helena; Madagascar; Malawi; Cape Verde; Timor-Leste for 30 days;
- Seychelles for 1 month;
- Mali; Mauritania; Senegal; Gabon; Guinea-Bissau; Somalia; Mozambique; Uganda; Zimbabwe; Togo for 7 days;
- Kyrgyzstan for 30 days;
- Laos for 30 Days; Somalia for 30 days, provided an invitation letter issued by the sponsor has been submitted to the Airport Immigration Department at least 2 days before arrival;
- Tuvalu for 1 month; and Turkey issues an e-visa for 3 months.
So these are the countries that will offer the most convenience to travel to with your South African passport. Now you know!