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South Africa Visa Guide for IWH Volunteers

International Working Holidays is here to help you get through the visa application as painlessly as possible. 

But applying for the visa correctly and in time for your trip is your responsibility. Please read this page and VFS pages carefully. Please apply 90 days before you arrive in South Africa. 

tracking Claire Welgevonden Big 5 Volunteer.jpg

Our list is correct at the time of publishing this page but please double check the VFS site for any newly added or changed requirements. 

Important things to note first

  • NZ Passport holders must obtain a VISITOR PERMIT/VISA for South Africa for stays less than three months - even if you are volunteering (not a volunteer visa)
  • NZ Passport holders must obtain a VOLUNTEER VISITOR visa for stays more than three months. 
  • TRANSIT - check with our Travel Guru Dale at IWH Travel if you need a transit visa  - she knows which flights do or don't - she will try and book you only on flights that do not need a transit visa
  • The South African High Commission has only two South African Visa Application Centres in Auckland and Wellington.
  • The centres, are run by VFS Global. They have an appointment-based system, secure dispatch system, and walk-ins can also be accommodated. Please be clear at your appointment and your documents that you are applying for a Visitor Permit/Visa (less than three months) if only volunteering for less than three months. 
  • Both the above Visas cost $181 (including VFS service fees).
  • New Zealand passport holders in Australia can apply for visas at the South African High Commission in Canberra, and must bring proof of residence. 
  • Those in other countries can also submit their applications at the nearest South African Embassy, High Commission or local VFS.
  • The centres are open 0830-1500 Monday - Friday. 
  • When applying for a South African Visa, it is now possible to have a nominated person lodge the application in person with VFS Global in Auckland or Wellington on your client’s behalf. Clients must write a letter of authority giving their nominated person permission to submit an application on their behalf, and state the reason why they are unable to attend themselves. The nominated person could be a friend, or family member, and that person must lodge the application in person. There is still no facility for applications via email, courier or mail.

Documents required

  1. Completed Application form DHA-84.
  2. Original valid machine readable Passport / Travel Document valid for no less than (30) days after the expiry of the intended visit with three (3) completely blank pages.
  3. One (1) passport size photo.
  4. Travel itinerary showing onward or return flight details (PRELIMINARY BOOKING ONLY, PLEASE DO NOT MAKE FIRM TRAVEL BOOKING). In the case of transit purposes, proof of onward passage. Our travel team will provide this for you. 
  5. Proof of sufficient funds to cover the living expenses in the form of: Recent bank statement for 3 months, or Cash available / traveller's cheques. $1100NZ per month. Must have your name and address and be stamped by bank. 
  6. The Visa letter (we have provided you already), signed and dated. This doubles as your proof of accommodation and food provided. Email us if you need this again. 
  7. A recent certified copy of our South Africa partners ID (your host) which we have provided you.  Scanned copy is acceptable. Email us if you need this again. 
  8. Leave letter from the employer if you have ongoing employment in New Zealand. If you are self employed or not taking leave, please add that detail to your cover letter. They want to ensure you have ties to home and won't overstay.
  9. A cover letter from you confirming the purpose and duration of the visit signed and dated. Please include the visa type you are applying for. (Visitor Visa in most cases unless you are staying more than three months)
  10. Visa fee. 
  11. Yellow fever certificates only are required if the journey starts or entails passing through the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America.

Notes for ALL applicants applying for the volunteer visa (3+ months):

  • You will also need copies of bank statements for last three months showing at least $1100NZ of savings per month of your visa. The bank statements must be provided in your name and must be sufficient to cover the full duration of your volunteer period in South Africa. They need to be stamped by the bank to prove authenticity. 

Incomplete applications will not be accepted. 

Failing to meet any of the following requirements will also render the application incomplete

  • All copies of ID/Passport/Residence permit of host in South Africa must be certified copies – that is, certified by the Police in South Africa or a Commissioner of Oaths; #7 above
  • Invitation letter from host in South Africa must be signed; #6 above
  • All bank statements must be stamped by the bank, or accompanied by a separate letter from the bank verifying the account, name and address of the client. #5 above
  • To apply for your visa from NZ go to: Start the Visa application here
  • The required documents are listed here: Required Documents for the South Africa Volunteer Visa

These details are correct at time of publishing but please check the VFS Site for up to date info. 

Processing Times

  • VFS state that minimum processing time is 5 to 7 working days from receipt of application if application is complete - but in our experience they are taking 6 weeks minimum so please apply THREE MONTHS before departure
  • Applicants can only lodge their applications if the intended travel date to RSA is within next 90 days.
  • Applicants should also note that processing times are minimum as stated, and in some cases may take longer.

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