World Cup visa dispensation announced

Julian Pokroy May 24, 2010

With the the 2010 FIFA World Cup fast approaching, it has become necessary to deal with some of the issues surrounding the entry of foreign nationals into South Africa who are entering the country as spectators of this wonderful event. In order to deal with the “special” dispensation under the Immigration Act, recently announced, it is necessary to perhaps state the obvious regarding the entry of foreign nationals into the country.


Photo credit: vramak

In the first instance it is necessary for a foreign national entering South Africa to be possessed of an appropriate visitors permit.

Generally, a visitors’ permit would be regulated by Section 11 of the Immigration Act which deals with the various kinds of visitors permits permissible under the aforesaid act.

With the anticipated floods of soccer enthusiasts arriving at our shores it has become necessary for the Department of Home Affairs to deal with “soccer visitors” with a different dispensation.

It is very important to note that countries which are visa exempt in respect of South Africa can dispatch their ticket holders to South Africa without having to go through the process of applying for the relevant visitors’ permit or visa.

Visa exemptions are determined by bilateral agreements entered into between governments. Countries such as the Common Wealth Union members, the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are visa exempt and accordingly can merely enter South Africa, present their passports to an immigration official at the port of entry, enter the country and enjoy the World Cup Soccer.

A list of visa exempt countries can be viewed by visiting our website at and clicking on the link of visa exempt countries. It is important to note that the visa exemption list does change from time to time and accordingly it is important to make enquiries before departure for South Africa as to the current status of the visa exemption list. The list is derived from the Department of Foreign Affairs and can also be viewed on that website

Reference is made elsewhere in this article to the “express lane” and the comments made in this regard will be equally applicable to visa exemption passport holders.

The crunch comes with foreign nationals who derive from countries which are not visa exempt.

Such foreign nationals would have to apply for an appropriate visitors permit in order to enter South Africa.

Application in this regard would have to be brought to the Embassy closest to where the applicant lives and would have to comply with all of the basic requirements for a general visitors permit.

The only overriding factors, which are plus factors, will relate to the fact that the holder would have to present their authentic World Cup Ticket proving that they have indeed secured a seat(s) as a spectator for the World Cup and that two further elements will be added. These would be the following:

  • The normal visitors permit/visa fee of R425 will be waived; and
  • The visitors permit/visa will be dealt with on the basis of urgency with anticipated turn-around-times of 3 to 4 days for processing.

It is important to further note that the visa may only be used for the purpose of attending the FIFA World Cup and for the duration thereof and do not permit the holder of such visa to work, take up employment or carry on business.

The failure to comply with the requirements will result in a non-visa exempt country passport holder, being turned back at the airport or port of entry.

The following documentation will have to be presented to the South African High Commission, Embassy or Consular Mission when applying for the permit:

  • Visa application form (this form can be downloaded off;
  • A valid passport must be presented, valid for no less than 30 days after the intended date of return of the applicant;
  • At least two unused pages must be available in the passport of the applicant. Failure to comply with this aspect could result in a refusal of entry. This principle is in line with international best practice in this regard;
  • A vaccination certificate will be required in respect of yellow fever if the applicant departs from or has travelled through a yellow fever endemic country;
  • A statement will have to be provided and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of the visit and this would encompass a FIFA match ticket application number;
  • A valid return air ticket will have to be provided;
  • Passport size photographs will have to be provided with the application;
  • Proof of financial resources in the form of a bank statement will have to be provided; and
  • Proof of salary;
  • Proof of financial means to cover the living expenses whilst in South Africa will have to be provided, alternatively available cash, including credit cards or travellers cheques could be presented in this regard;
  • Proof of medical insurance for the duration of the trip will have to be provided.

The visa which is being applied for is known as a specially designated “event visa”.

Should you require any further information or should you require assistance with your application for your visitors permit/visa then please contact Julian Pokroy Immigration Law Attorneys:

About Julian Pokroy, the author

Julian Pokroy is one of South Africa’s leading Immigration Specialist Attorneys. He has been practicing immigration law since 1980 and celebrates 30 years of specialist immigration, nationality and refugee law practice in 2010! Julian heads up the Immigration, Nationality and Refugee Law Committee of the Law Society of South Africa and is is a member of the South African Law Commission’s Committee for Home Affairs. Julian is also a prolific author on immigration matters both in South Africa and internationally.