Arduous visa requirements for South African travellers

PortugalSouth Africans typically find travelling abroad difficult due to some of the onerous visa requirements they have to meet, especially for Schengen countries. South African passport holders only have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 97 countries around the globe, ranking the South African passport 41st in the world.

Essentially, says James Bowling, CEO of Monarch&Co - a company that specialises in facilitating residency and citizenship programmes, what this means is that South African citizens are subject to visa requirements and administrative entry restrictions for most countries when travelling abroad.

“While a visa or a permit is a traveller’s permission to travel to, transit or remain in a foreign country for a predetermined time period, it does not always guarantee the traveller entry into the country, especially if the person intends to work in that country, in which case a work or business visa will be required,” advises Bowling.

Bowling says that South African citizens as well as certain foreigners who reside in South Africa will require a visa to enter the Schengen states. The Schengen territory includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

“With a Schengen visa, the holder will be able to travel freely between the countries within the Schengen territory for tourist or business purposes for a maximum of 90 days per 180 days of the year. Many of the countries will not accept a temporary passport, so the applicant will need to have a regular South African passport,” says Bowling. “Considering there are a number of countries within the Schengen state, the applicant is free to apply with any of the countries, however it is advisable to apply with the country where their stay will be longest. Sufficient proof has to be submitted about the applicant’s complete stay in the Schengen Territory.”

He adds that visa applications must be lodged at least 15 calendar days before the intended visit and cannot be lodged earlier than three months before the start of the intended visit. The category of the visa will depend on the length and purpose of the stay. All types of the Schengen visa carry a fee of 60 Euros for adults, which is to be paid in South African Rand. The fee for children between the ages of six and 12 years old is 35 Euros. “It is interesting to note that spouses of European Union and EEA citizens and their children under the age of 21 years old will receive a Schengen visa free of charge, provided that the marriage is recognized by the country of the EU partner,” says Bowling.

Visa applications are both costly and time consuming and generally an irritating nuisance.  Bowling says that to avoid the tedious and lengthy process of applying for visas, South African’s have the option of obtaining a citizenship to the European Union through a variety of investment programmes, which offer  a range of benefits including right to free movement, settlement and employment across member states of the EU.

“The governments of all EU countries work together for mutual economic and social gain, and, even though each EU country maintains its own government structure, EU membership guarantees certain rights and benefits to both citizens and businesses,” explains Bowling. He goes on to emphasize that a citizen of any EU member country automatically becomes an EU citizen, allowing them to capitalise on all of the union’s benefits that include unrestricted travel.

Apart from various other benefits like health care, education, and work possibilities, freedom of travel is one of the major benefits of EU citizenship. By obtaining citizenship in an EU country, the investor is entitled to carry that country’s passport, which can allow them unrestricted travel benefits throughout the 26 EU member states.  “Many of our clients incur huge travel inconveniences when travelling abroad owing to the conditions set on them by virtue of the passport that they carry.  Through citizenship programmes, investors can gain travel benefits through obtaining another citizenship that has fewer travel restrictions and visa requirements,” says Bowling.

“There are many reasons why EU citizenship appeals to many investors, but mostly it revolves around the second passport. This is their key to a world of free movement, greater flexibility and legal tax reduction,” Bowling concludes.

For more information contact:

South Africa

James Bowling at Monarch & Co on 011 883 9018 or visit