Which countries give SA passport holders easy access?

Going on holiday is always great, but getting a visa for some countries be tricky on a South African passport. Moneybags journalist, Ashleigh Brown, finds out how powerful the South African passport really is.

Many know that having a South African passport means getting a visa when you want to go overseas. Visas are expensive. For example:

  • The travel visa for the United States of America costs R1888,
  • The Schengen visa for Europe costs (calculating on the current exchange rate) about R804.93 for less than 90 days, and R1327.31 for a visa longer than 90 days,
  • And then the visa for the United Kingdom costs R1536 for a short term visa lasting six months.

But it is not all doom and gloom. Last year, the South African passport was ranked 41st in the world by Henley and Partners in their visa restrictions index. This is because it has access to 97 countries either visa-free, or visa on arrival.

The problem is that sometimes our very own government makes things harder. Adding to the woes of a those that hold a South African passport, Home Affairs implemented new visa rules last year.

Now minors have to travel with an unbridged birth certificate as well as their passports (effectively making passports almost void). If you are a foreigner that wants to visit South Africa you needneed to show up in person, in your country of origin, for biometric scans when applying for a visa. This may mean trekking to a South African embassy that’s not even in the town you reside in. Not only does this make it particularly difficult for tourists coming into the country, but also for foreigners who want to renew their visa’s.

Different visa documents

There are four different ‘options’ when it comes to travel documentation. A visa free country, means you will not need a visa at all to enter. This is generally for a set amount of time. Each country is different, but it can range anywhere from one month, to a year.

A visa on arrival is when you can visit a certain country, but are allowed to apply for, and pick up your visa once you arrive there.

An e-visa, is a visa which is issued electronically. Instead of having the paper in your passport, you will just have the electronic version, after paying for it online.


For Southern Ireland you won’t need any visa to enter. But for Northern Ireland, you are going to need one. That is the same for the rest of the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as mainland Europe.

North America

When travelling to the United States of America, and Canada you are going to need a visa.

South America

Almost the whole of South America is a visa-free zone for South African passport holders. However, when travelling to Bolivia, you are going to require a visa.


In Australia you need an electronic visa. When travelling to New Zealand though, it is a visa-free zone. The rest of the countries, which make up Australasia, are all visa on arrival destinations.


Asia is a very large continent, and each country has different visa requirements. China, Japan, North Korea, and Vietnam, for example, all require visas.

Most of South-East Asia have visa on arrival requirements. For example: Cambodia, Laos, Krygyzstan, Iran, and Nepal.

Thailand is a visa free area, however.


The immediate countries bordering South Africa are all visa-free zones. Though, when travelling further inland, and up North, you are going to need a visa.

Each country has different regulations, and these can easily be found by visiting the country’s tourist, or government page.

There are a lot of places a South African passport holder can travel to without the hassle of getting a visa. Just make sure before you travel, that you know how long you are allowed to stay for, visa free, and if you do need a visa, how you can go about getting one.

Most of the information can be found on the embassy websites of the countries you want to travel to.

If you want to apply for, or renew your South African passport, Home Affairs has a complete list of the documents you will need, click here.

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