South Africa will test its electronic visa system in New Zealand by April 2019. The goal of the Online Visa for South Africa is to contribute to the country's economy by promoting tourism. An online visa system should also improve the efficiency of visa applicants and speed up entry upon arrival in the country. Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said during a media announcement on September 26th that the e-Visa would be first tested in New Zealand, "Once glitches identified during the pilot phase have been addressed, the e-Visa will be rolled out to other countries."
President Cyril Ramaphose had made an announcement prior to Gigaba indicating that there would be important changes made to the visa regime in order to stimulate the economy and take South Africa out of its recession. Besides the electronic visa for South Africa, further actions are being tested to revamp travel to the country.
South Africa will test e-Gates at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka International Airports by next year. E-Gates should allow returning South African citizens to be processed electronically instead of going through an immigration officer. "This will increase efficiencies and convenience, and improve facilitation of movement of frequent travelers going through our international airports, thus creating our capacity to service those that still require manual assistance through physical availability of immigration officers," Gigaba said.
Furthermore, South Africa is creating a Biometric Movement Control System to ease congestion at certain ports of entry. This new system will be tested in Cape Town and Lanseria International Airports. A biometrics capturing system is working at the moment at selected airports and six land ports which are Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Ficksburg, Maseru Bridge, Oshoek and Kopfontein. "Though unrelated to visas, the above six are the land ports of entry, where we also receive the highest volumes of complaints regarding congestion." New processes are on their way to smooth trade relations and promote tourism.
South Africa's new visa system as a tool to attract foreign visitors
Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyana confirmed early in September that the government was going to transform the country's visa system completely. During a post-cabinet media briefing, Mokonyane said, "An inter-ministerial team is looking at various aspects of the visa issue. That has been identified as one of the immediate things that are within the control of the government and the government can be in a position to resolve those." She added, "we also know that we have relationships with other countries where particularly in tourism, (where) visas are not a requirement. We also need to look at other matters that are of concern, including those who intend to come and invest in South Africa."
Back in May, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom shared that his department was working hard along with the Department of Home Affairs to push the country's tourism numbers higher. "One of the most effective ways to increase tourist arrivals is to make it easier for people to travel to our country, " Hanekom said. The promise for an electronic visa for South Africa was first officially communicated in March 2018.
Many countries around the world have started to launch electronic visa systems with a similar objective: to simplify the process of obtaining a visa and in doing so, attracting more visitors. The first country to have implemented an electronic travel authorization was the United States when the country introduced the ESTA. Canada later created the eTA Canada travel authorization system. Brazil is one of the latest countries to have launched an electronic visa system.
Similar to other online visa application systems, the South Africa application form will require that the traveler provides personal details and their passport information. Among the South Africa visa requirements applicants will be expected to apply with a valid passport.