As a foreign resident, what is my status in your country?
A valid passport is required of all visitors to South Africa. South Africa has tightened its visa requirements. Only visitors for tourism or short business meetings or those in transit do not require visas. All other visitors, including academics, students on educational trips, and volunteers, may need visas. Those without visas could be refused admission and returned to their point of origin.
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What kinds of visas are available?
The types of visas available are:

  • Visitor's visa - good for 90 days
  • Business visa - good for 90 days
  • Study visa - good for 90 days, unless otherwise approved for a longer stay
  • Medical visa - good for 90 days, unless otherwise approved for a longer stay
  • Work visa - good for 90 days
  • Transit visa - good for 90 days

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What is required to obtain these visas?
Most visitors will be required to obtain a visa, which is available upon application to either the Director General of Home Affairs in Pretoria or at any South African consulate. A fee of approximately US$45.00 will be charged on all visa applications. Application submission should be made at least 4 to 6 weeks prior to departure to the Director-General of Home Affairs or any South African diplomatic representative officer outside the Republic.

Visa policies are subject to change, so it is recommended that travelers check with their local South African consulate to obtain the latest details on obtaining a visa. Please note that members of the media and those entering the country with the intent to do work for religious organizations must obtain the permission of the government in order to gain entry.

Steps to take in order to obtain a visa:

  • Complete a visa application form.
  • Have a valid passport to cover the duration of your stay in South Africa
  • Have two passport-size photos
  • Have proof of re-entry into the USA or a copy of US Resident Alien Card
  • Have proof of medical insurance coverage while abroad
  • Provide flight itinerary
  • Provide a non-refundable application fee
  • Have a notarized consent from both parents to authorize the South African Embassy to grant the required visa to a child, in case of a minor (under 18 years of age)

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Are spouses permitted and/or likely to find work?
Yes, a spouse is permitted to work if he or she has a valid work permit. This is to be obtained separately from the working partner's permit.
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What are the main forms of identification and how does a newcomer obtain them?
The official form of identification in South Africa is the ID Book. The newcomer needs to go to the Department of Home Affairs. An immigrant who applies for the initial issue of an identity document has to attach his/her permanent residence permit, naturalization or exemption certificate, where applicable. If the permanent residence permit or exemption certificate cannot be furnished, a BI-829 form must be completed for the issuing of a duplicate thereof. If the naturalization certificate cannot be furnished, the applicant has to apply for a duplicate prior to submitting the initial application form BI-9.

Additionally, the foreign resident needs to register all vehicles. Before importing the motor vehicle, the following documents are needed:

  • Import permits (from Department of Trade & Industry)
  • SABS Approval (from SABS offices)
  • Car registration papers
  • Purchase order
  • Certified copy of the Will (should the car be imported as bequeathed goods)
  • Death certificate (should the car be imported as bequeathed goods)

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Are there any other important permits I must obtain, or places where I must register right away?
All immigrants must obtain an Import permit, Certificate of Compliance together with form DA404A, passport, residence permit and proof of value to be submitted to customs.

No vehicle may be shipped unless the import permit has been approved and physically received by the local Crown office in South Africa
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What items should I avoid bringing into the country?
The following items are prohibited and should not be brought into the country: 

  • Plants (including bulbs, seeds, sugar cane, raw cotton, other vegetable matter, fruits of any description)
  • Live animals or animal products (birds, fish, mollusks, poultry, or eggs)
  • Bees (including larvae or eggs, beeswax, honey in any form or contained in preparations, used beehive appliances)
  • Alcohol (beer, wine, spirituous or alcoholic beverages) (restrictions - duties and taxes apply)
  • Tobacco (manufactured, cigars or cigarettes) (restrictions - duties and taxes apply)
  • Drugs (opium, cocaine, morphine, marijuana, etc.)
  • Radiotelegraphic and telephonic transmission and reception apparatus (e.g., CB radios, walkie talkies) (Some restrictions may apply)
  • Indecent and obscene books or other objectionable articles
  • Firearms, ammunition and explosives
  • Uncut diamonds, unwrought gold
  • Motorcars, motorcycles and other motor vehicles (certain restrictions - No left-hand drive vehicles allowed)

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Is there anything else I should know about entering and remaining in the country legally?
If you follow the steps referenced above, you should be fine. However, please take note of the notes below:

  • Duty-free entry for used household effects is only valid for returning residents that have been living abroad for more than six months or when a valid residence permit is available.
  • Effects must have been owned for at least one year, and cannot to be sold in South Africa within two years of arrival.
  • On furnishing a secondary residence or holiday home, full duties and taxes will be applicable.
  • Should an immigrant not be in possession of a valid residence permit, but have applied for one, or is planning on obtaining a residence permit, then effects could be imported by paying a Provisional Payment or security bond, equal to 50% of the declared used customs value. This amount is refundable (less costs) once residence is obtained, but also has restrictions.
  • Should residency not be obtained, then the immigrant will have to pay full duties and taxes, or re-export the whole consignment.
  • All immigrants and returning residents into South Africa have to report to their Crown destination contact at least ten days prior to shipment arrival, as customs documentation has to be completed and handed into customs at least few days prior to shipment arrival. Delays could cause additional charges incurred for the shipper’s own account. For further detail, please contact your Crown destination contact in South Africa.

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Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.