South Africa has announced that it plans to expand the trial of its new e-Visa system to include visitors from more countries. This will make it easier for foreign travelers to visit the country.
Electronic visas, or e-Visas, are becoming more and more popular around the world. The possibility of obtaining a visa by online application appeals to many travelers because it means that it is not necessary to go to an embassy. These digital documents make travel simpler and easier.
South Africa has been trialing its own e-Visa system since November 2019. However, it was limited to only visitors from Kenya traveling to O.R. Tambo and Lanseria airports.
The Department of Home Affairs has announced that it plans to expand this pilot of the e-Visa system to visitors arriving from China, India, and Nigeria.
The trial of the South Africa e-Visa has been implemented to test the system in a relatively controlled way to ensure that any teething problems can be fixed before the system is launched for travelers from all over the world.
According to Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Siya Qoza, the South Africa e-Visa system is fast and easy to use, having been designed to be as user-friendly as possible.
The online application process takes roughly 20 minutes to complete. The applicant must provide a number of supporting documents for the e-Visa application to be processed correctly. If they are missing one of these documents, the application is saved and can be resumed at a later time from where they left off.
The e-Visa for South Africa is expected to make travel to the country much quicker and easier for travelers from eligible countries.
Expanding the South Africa e-Visa System
The South African Department of Home Affairs said in February that it planned to extend the pilot of the e-Visa system to travelers from the following 3 countries within the quarter:
However, no definitive date was given and it is unclear whether and how these plans have been affected by the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Once the trial period is complete, the South Africa e-Visa will be launched on a large scale and the system will be implemented at more border entry points. It will most likely become available for visitors from a number of other countries.
The Department of Home Affairs are planning to continue adding more countries to the e-Visa system each financial year, opening up the option of obtaining digital travel documents to more and more travelers. It is said that this will continue until all nationalities that need a visa to travel to South Africa are eligible for the e-Visa.
Foreign nationals traveling to South Africa should make sure they check visa requirements for their nationality and keep up to date with worldwide visa information to see if they have become eligible for the South African e-Visa.
Why South Africa Needs an e-Visa
Electronic travel documents like the South African e-Visa are becoming available for many countries as the world embraces the digital age.
They enable travelers to obtain the correct travel documents for their trip quickly and easily from the comfort of their own homes.
They also generally speed up the process of entering a country through border control.
According to Benjamin Boesch, chief digital officer for VFS Global:
“Today’s travellers, while deciding on destinations, make it a point to do a search on countries that provide e-visas, thereby driving inbound travel for those countries. Airports are upgrading their technological solutions to ensure biometric check-ins of travellers in the near future.”
As well as the advantages for visitors to South Africa, an electronic visa will also improve security, with personal information and biometrics being checked at border crossings and travelers being screened against international watchlists prior to their arrival.
Department of Home Affairs media manager David Hlabane said that the e-Visa system for South Africa “will ensure acceptable fingerprints-quality capture at application or port of entry and improve turnaround times for visa applications”.
The South Africa e-Visa project is not yet complete, but in the near future it looks certain to improve the ease of travel to the country.