Please ensure you have the correct documentation with you ready for check-in, security clearance and the boarding gates. For international travel, government regulations require all travellers over 16 years old to be in possession of a valid (return) air ticket, a passport and visa and health documentation (if required). Travellers without the necessary documents will be not be allowed to board to avoid flouting immigration rules.
Passport, visa and health requirements can vary according to your country of citizenship and your destination. It is your responsibility as a traveller to ensure you have the correct documents. Please check the requirements with the consulate or embassy of all countries on your itinerary. Failure to comply with visa and/or passport requirements may result in denied boarding. SAA is not responsible for any losses or inconvenience incurred as a result.
Visit the IATA Travel Centre for free information on Passport, Visa and Health requirements.
Please note that visitors who wish to travel to South Africa must have a machine readable passport that is valid for at least 30 days after their intended return date from South Africa.
It’s important to note that non-South African passport holders must have at least one (1) completely unused visa page for entry or departure endorsements by South African Immigration Service in their passport. Government regulations prohibit airlines from boarding travellers without the required blank visa pages, even if you hold a valid ticket and a valid passport.
That requirement for a blank page does not include the page reserved for Observations, Amendments or Endorsements.
This rule is not applicable to alien residents of South Africa.
Customers travelling to international destinations must ensure that their passports are signed on the space provided at the bottom of the page that lists contact details. This is a requirement from various Immigration Authorities to which SAA must adhere to.
The Republic of South Africa is currently implementing the biometric capturing system at ports of entry. If you are a non-South African citizen, travelling through the ports of entry you will be expected to provide your fingerprints and photograph at the Immigration counter.
To view the biometric process, click here.
New requirements, introduced by the South African Department of Home Affairs from 1 June 2015, specify that all minors (children under 18 years) are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate which shows the details of both parents for all international travel to and from South Africa.
Further documentation may be required.
For full details please visit the Department of Home Affairs website.
Travellers will be asked to produce the required documentation at check-in for each flight.
Important contact information:
- The South African Department of Home Affairs,0800 60 11 90 (toll free from South Africa)
- Your local South African Embassy
School group exemption:
Special dispensation has been made regarding documentation required for children travelling via South Africa for minors accompanying school tours. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for further details.
SAA's role is to ensure the new Immigration Regulations are communicated and adhered to by its customers, however, SAA is in no way responsible for the Act and the new Immigration Regulations. SAA will ensure it communicates any new amendments to the regulations in a timely manner, however, SAA accepts no liability for any inaccuracies in the content.
The United States Government requires all foreign travellers to hold specific travel documents to enter the country.
South African passport holders will need to apply in person for a visa, and should do so before booking a flight. The US Diplomatic Mission to South Africa says:
- Applicants should be prepared to demonstrate their strong social, economic and/or family ties to South Africa as well as their purpose and duration of travel.
- Flight tickets: Applicants should obtain a visa BEFORE purchasing tickets or making irrevocable travel plans.
- Visa Interviews are by appointment only. We suggest that appointments be scheduled at least 60 days before the travel date wherever possible.
- Appointments are available Monday - Thursday.
For details, see:
US Visa Waiver Program
Passport holders from other counties may be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. If so, you can apply for authorisation to enter the US before you travel, using the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA). Check your eligibility for the Visa Waiver program here:
Electronic System for Travel Authorisation
Travellers eligible under Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorisation via the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) prior to travelling to the United States.
This automated system will confirm your eligibility to enter under the Visa Waiver Program and determine whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of the application, you will be notified of your eligibility to travel to the United States.
You can apply by visiting https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ and answering all the required questions. Anyone trying to travel without authorisation may be:
- denied boarding
- delayed upon arrival and referred to US Customs and Border Protection for secondary inspection
- required to submit an application and pay a fee
- refused admission into the United States and returned on the next available flight
Application for the ESTA authorisation costs $14. You must pay by credit or debit card during the online application process.