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

2019-12-19 04:45 - Selene Brophy
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UPDATE - Schengen Visa costs to increase by 33.3% from February 2020

Want to go to Europe with your green Mamba passport? Then you'll need a Schengen Visa, which will currently grant you access to 26 European countries for €60 (about R960).

However, this fee is set to change from February 2020, according to Going up a whopping 33.3%, the cost will now jump to €80 (about R1300).  

Children aged 0 to 6 remain exempt from the visa fees. Click here to see how to apply for your Schengen visa

This could also mean extended application submission periods. But, on the other side, more applications will be done online, and frequent travellers with a positive visa history could benefit from visas with lengthier validity.

Why the hike in fees? 

The EU is changing some of the rules to the Schengen Visa Code which regulates visa issuance and benefits, in an effort to facilitate the application procedures for travellers and consulate staff.

"The new code also introduces a mechanism that asserts, whether the visa fees should change or remain the same, for every three years. Another mechanism that will use visa processing as leverage will also be introduced, in a bid to improve cooperation with third countries on readmission," says

When you're used to going through the rigmarole of applying for a visa when travelling, something almost feels amiss when you don't have visa red-tape ahead of a trip. 

But visiting a visa-free destination really is more affordable. In 2019 the power of South Africa's passport, better known as the Green Mamba - has fluctuated somewhat and currently SA's passport is ranked 53rd in the world for its ease of access, with an estimated 101 visa-free/Visa on arrival destinations available to visit.   

READ: In case you're still confused, DHA minister confirmed unabridged birth certificates are officially not a requirement   

There have been a number of eased visa restrictions pegged for 2020, thanks in part to the Department of Home Affairs' (DHA) mission to overhaul SA's visa regime. The most significant development when it comes to travel to Mzansi has been that foreign children no longer require added birth certificate documentation when visiting - a former rule that initially hurt SA's international arrivals considerably, especially from the UK. The change does not apply to South African parents, but they can look forward to the convenience of passports detailing both the mother and father's details which will ultimately be the standard documentation required. 

in 2019 SA's much-needed reform has seen visa-free entry granted to residents of New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with visa waivers in the pipeline for Ghana, Cuba, and São Tomé and Príncipe.

Visa requirements are also being simplified for China and India through e-Visa applications. However, reciprocity access has not been included for South Africans, do the necessary applications if you're planning to visit.

New destinations expected to join the list of visa-free destinations for locals are Nigeria and Tunisia though - but don't forget to check out the current visa-free travel destinations for South Africans list here - perfect for deciding where to take your next travel adventure. 

SEE: SA visa reform kicks in as New Zealand and 6 other countries given free entry  

South Africans currently need to apply for a visa before visiting Nigeria - but visa restrictions between the two countries are set ease come 2020 - with SA also kickstarting an e-visa pilot for Nigerians in January 2020. 

Earlier in December, North African country Tunisia granted visa-free access to South Africa - however the implementation date of this agreement is still being decided by both countries.

READ: How far your visa fees would get you in countries South Africa just scrapped visas for 


READ: Travelling with a damaged passport is an expensive risk. Here's why you should get it replaced  

Visa-free destinations to visit in 2020: 

Mozambique, much more than golden and white sandy beaches, prawns and peri-peri chicken, this unique African destination offers travellers a wealth of memorable experiences.

The destination, especially the city of Beira, has slowly picked up the pieces after the devastating effects of Cyclone Ida in March 2019. 

With its magnificent coastline, warm turquoise waters teeming with fascinating marine life and abundance of coconut filled palm trees, Mozambique on the face of it is worth the visit just to enjoy the natural splendour of this south-east African nation. 

Road-tripping Mozambique: From camping with wild elephants to watching the sun set over dhows

While most visitors to Africa come to view our rich wildlife and get a feel of our hot climate, the Kingdom of Lesotho offers a unique African climate for all travellers to enjoy.

Lesotho, meaning "the land of the people who speak Sesotho", was previously known as Basutoland.

Enclaved by South Africa and sharing the Drakensberg mountain range and highlands with our country, Lesotho is one of the few African countries boasting a winter wonderland under African skies.

Skiing in Lesotho – an African winter wonderland


Singapore boasts a city paradise like no other country.  One of Asia's most technologically advanced countries, the island city-state just off Malaysia boasts efficient transport systems, diverse cultures and blends of man-made and natural sites against a backdrop of skyscrapers that reflect stunning sunsets.

Although the exchange rate is a bit steep for South Africans, this visa-free country is a must-visit destination for anyone who wants a luxurious south-east Asian escape.

Singapore Sling: Caught between a merlion and a sky garden

Ireland is rich in lush natural beauty, runs deep with river veins and is dense with cathedrals galore. Discover the history and architectural wonders that tell the story of the different Irish cities.

Get lost in breathtaking countryside towns that are more nature than concrete or find yourself in the bustling city of Dublin hopping between Cathedral tours and pubs and back.

Take to the streets with your feet and a map in hand and navigate your way around the quaint and quiet towns decked in niche cafes and stores. Or tuck yourself away with a good book in one of the many city parks offering green havens amid the concrete centres. 

READ: Ireland’s Top Insider Experiences 

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