Changes to SA Transit Visa Rules

Travellers heading to countries neighbouring South Africa through four airports are no longer required to apply for a transit visa, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The ministry said it was notified Jan. 15 by the Liaison Office of South Africa in Taiwan about the changes to the African country’s transit visa procedure following the introduction of a new biometric border control measure.

South Africa introduced a pilot program of capturing the biometrics of visitors at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport and Lanseria International Airport, Durban’s King Shaka International Airport, and Cape Town International Airport, late last year.

Travellers to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique and Zimbabwe transiting through the four South African airports no longer need a transit visa, but will have their photo and fingerprints recorded, the ministry said.

A transit visa is still required if the visitors to the six countries transit by other means, the ministry added.

The introduction is aimed at relaxing the requirements for transit visas reinstated in June 2010 – namely, in-person applications – according to the South African Department of Home Affairs.

The South African government plans to roll out the biometric program to the country’s other 67 ports of entry in the future, and its ultimate goal is to capture biometrics of all travellers upon arrival and departure.

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