Government wants easier travel to and from South Africa – what you should know

Home affairs minister Dr Aaron Motsoaeldi says that his department is currently working on a number of initiatives that will make travel to and from South Africa – including the introduction of new e-gates and e-visas.

Presenting his departmental budget speech on Wednesday (19 May), the minister said that 10 e-gates are currently installed at Cape Town International Airport with testing taking place on South African travellers entering and departing the country.

He said that his department is now working in collaboration with the department of transport and the Airports Company of South Africa (Acsa) to implement immigration e-gates at the country’s other major international airports. 

This will be done alongside the pilot roll-out of the Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS) at OR Tambo International which will allow for the collecting of important biometric data from travellers.

The e-gates project is aimed at improving passenger processing times and experience while maintaining the security and integrity of the borders.

The system allows South African passport holders travelling internationally will proceed to e-gates for self-service immigration clearance where the following would be performed:

  • Biometric verification;
  • Passport authenticity and validity checks;
  • Checks against the BMCS risk engine; and
  • The BMCS will record the movements of persons on the system after all system checks have been successfully performed.


Motsoaeldi said that his department would also expand its e-visa system after a successful pilot with a handful of countries.

Initially introduced with Kenya, the programme has since expanded to China, India and Nigeria. Motsloeadi explained that these three countries were chosen as they account for more a third of the world’s population. 

The minister said that e-visas will now be extended to 10 additional countries, including:

  • Cameroon
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia,
  • Mexic
  • Uganda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Iran,
  • Philippines
  • Pakistan

The rollout of more e-visas is expected be beneficial for both tourists and for the local economy as the system significantly reduces the amount of administrative time and requirements required for visitors to enter into South Africa.

The entire e-visa application process takes place online and takes around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.

Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date.

Read: Push for new South African remote working visa

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