The 100 countries South Africans can visit without a visa in 2020

2019-02-11 08:00
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Any local without an ancestral visas or dual citizenship knows travelling on a South African passport is no joke.

Before even thinking about entering most countries around the world, we are required to pass the ultimate endurance test: a visa application. Yet, the South African passport is one of the most powerful African passports. Third only to Seychelles and Mauritius, as per the annual Henleys Passport Index.

READ: How SA's passport power changed in a decade: The best and worst passports for 2020

As of January 2020 South African passport holders can travel to 100 countries without the need to pay for a visa prior to their trip. In 2019 South Africa had access to 101 destinations - but the change is not as simple as a country changing its access for SA.

According to Henleys, South Africa dropped from 100 visa-free score to 99 in the second quarter of 2019.

READ: South African living in the UK caught out by New Zealand's new visa rules

Then in Quarter 4 Namibia and Sierra Leone made a move to liberalise their visa regimes. A number of African states gained access to these two nations, resulting in a slight upward shift in their scores and moving South Africa back to its initial position. The move speaks to the potential and impact of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) on visa liberalization.

Add to this Djibouti, which previously offered a visa-on-arrival to South Africans but has now changed its policy to an e-visa system. 

While a country might gain access to a number of new travel destinations, if it does not improve its global access levels as quickly as other high-performing countries on the index, then this will lead to an overall decline in its passport power ranking.

READ: Visa-free = Hassle-free: 2019's most significant visa changes for SA 

South Africa’s drop in rank is not because of major changes to the country’s visa-free/visa-on-arrival score, but because of changes higher up in the index. Over the last quarter, a number of countries have moved up the rankings, pushing South Africa’s ranking further down.

All in all, these are 100 countries around the globe we can enter on our passports alone, and while they may not be the US, Canada, Australia or most of Europe, there are some pretty exciting places to go. 

TRAVEL PLANNING: Quick Guides for each of the visa-free destinations for South African travellers here


Most SADC countries are accessible to us without a visa, as long as we're going there for vacation. Any form of work - even volunteering - requires some form of a visa, so make 100% sure what the rules are beforehand. 

Here is the full list of African countries we can enter without visas:

Angola, Benin, Botswana, Djibouti, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, MauritaniaMozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Saint Helena, Senegal, Seychelles, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland), Somalia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

And then a few where we get a visa on arrival:

Cape Verde, Comoros, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Tanzania, Togo Tunisia and Uganda.

South and Central America

The good news is that pretty much the ENTIRE South and central America is accessible to us on nothing but a passport, with the exception of, among others, Suriname, French Guiana, Mexico, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. 

Here is a full list of the South and Central American countries we can enter on our passport:

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Bolivia Cayman Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Falkland Islands, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uruguay and Venezuela.

North America

Sorry, folks, it's a no go. Visas are a must. Check out what you need for the US Visa application process.


Well, it's mostly closed to us, but there are a few surprising destinations we can enter sans visa. 

Ireland, Kosovo, Russia, Georgia and France's Reunion Island

UPDATE - Schengen Visa costs to increase by 33.3% from February 2020


Hong Kong, Macao, Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Visa on arrival:

Armenia, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Cambodia, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, South Korea, and Timor-Leste

Middle East

Iran, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar

Free E-visa



Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated states of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tuvalu, Vanuatu. 

Check out the Department of International Relations and Cooperation's comprehensive list of visa requirements for ordinary South African citizens.  

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