Understanding Visas for your next overseas trip

29 June 2016

Acquiring a visa for visits to another country can sometimes be an expensive and time consuming exercise, even daunting at times. However, a completely necessary task to complete. Some destinations require you to pre-arrange your visa before leaving the country, others are able to offer you the visa when you arrive, and other countries do not require a visa at all if you are travelling within a certain timeframe. Knowing which is which can sometimes become a confusing subject, but one which we can shed some light on.

Understanding Visas for your next overseas trip

How to apply for a visa

If you’re going to apply for a visa for a country like the UK for example, you would need to apply through the UK.gov website, pay the fee online and then make an appointment with a visa centre. Once your appointment is set, you will visit the centre, deliver your required documents and then wait up to 14 working days before you can go and collect your passport with your brand new visa. However, it is possible to get independent passport companies to apply for you online, and collect your visa once it is ready. These companies certainly take out the hassle and time spent trying to arrange this yourself, but will make a UK visa more expensive due to their administration costs, and you will still need to go into the visa centre to get your picture and fingerprints taken anyway. Applying for other visas usually follows a similar process and can be done for you by an independent company, or you could do it yourself if you have the time.

When applying for a visa it will be helpful to understand what opportunities the various types of visas will offer you on your travels. For example, single entry visas allow one entry and exit, while multiple entry visas allow you to come and go (within limits), and other visas allow you to stay longer, work for a prescribed length of time, or study in your destination country.

Cities requiring a visa

If you’re visiting cities like London, Berlin, Rome, Dubrovnik, Athens, New York, Sydney, Juneau, Toronto and many more, you will need to ensure that you have arranged a visa in your passport before leaving South Africa. If you have the time, save yourself a few bucks and go through the process yourself, otherwise employ a company to do it for you and save yourself the stress and hassle.

Check with your Flight Centre Consultant when you book your holiday and flights whether or not a visa is required, and when you need to arrange this. Another important point to note is that if you are cruising, or visiting a country with the hopes of hopping over the border to take a quick look at another location, it is vital to ensure that you know the entry and visa requirements for each port or border post. You don’t want to be stuck on the ship while everyone else visits exotic locations like Marrakech in Morocco while on a cruise up the west coast of Africa, for example.

Cities that don’t require a visa

Certain countries have understandings with each other and this includes the ability to cross their borders. Cities like Hong Kong, Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Maputo, Kathmandu, Auckland and other destinations like Jamaica, Peru, Bali, Mauritius and more, do not require South African passport holders to apply for a visa before they fly.

The South African passport offers a surprising number of exciting destinations to travel to, visa free. However the rules are constantly changing and so it would pay to always do your homework and never assume anything when arranging your travel documents.

Key developments to visa regulations

If you’re a little confused as to the visa and passport requirements for your minors when leaving the country, you’re not alone. Due to the controversial decision taken last year to force parents to travel with their children’s unabridged birth certificates, and then the subsequent amendment of this decision, many people are at a loss as to what the actual rule is.

The Department of Home Affairs has decided to include the details of both parents on the minor’s passport to curb this issue. If your child’s passport is not in the new format, which includes the parent’s details, they will be required to travel with unabridged birth certificates. However this is still to be properly implemented and parents travelling with minors, whether they have the new passports for their children or not, may want to have the additional travel documents for minors, as per the legislation laid out last year, as well. It may just be the difference between a smooth trip and an administrative nightmare.

Your best source of information should always be your travel agent, and our friendly and experienced Flight Centre Consultants are always ready to help out and ensure you have the best travel experience possible.


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