Tourist Visas versus Business Visas in Africa

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Africa has always been a very popular travel destination for South Africans. Traditionally, tourism has been the primary call of the continent, but over the years business within Africa has boomed, and more and more South Africans are crossing continental borders to broker deals, set up start-ups, trade in commodities and boost commercial enterprises. As such a vast continent made up of so many countries, there is not a blanket visa statute. Each country has its own legislation when it comes to visitors’ visas. And many distinguish between those visiting for pleasure and those visiting for business reasons.

As a member of the South African Development Community, or SADC, South Africans do not need visas for other member states when travelling either for business or as a tourist. Countries that don’t demand business visas include Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Kenya and Mozambique. Some countries allocate business visas upon arrival, including Somalia, Rwanda and Tanzania. Among the countries that require South African passport holders to apply for visas prior to their business travel are Namibia, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Nigeria, Angola, Morocco, Egypt and the Ivory Coast.

Tourist visa requirements are very different to business visas, and in some cases where a business travel visa is required a tourist one to the same destination is not. Many African countries only require a letter of invitation and an itinerary for the duration of your stay. Other countries on the continent, however, have implemented much stricter criteria, including a letter from the South African company that acts as proof of employment, a certificate of incorporation, bank statements and proof that the visitor is financially supported for the duration of the trip. Other prerequisites include a tax clearance certificate, proof of residence or work permits for non-South Africans representing South African countries and even the documentation to be translated into the local language. It is also important to realise that business visas take more time than their tourist equivalent.

Visa requirements differ from country to country, and change often, so it is important to ensure that you are well informed. Your travel consultant will be able to provide you with all the up to date visa information for each specific country and for the specifics of your particular trip.

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