New travel, visa changes affecting travellers this festive season

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 3 December 2019

Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced changes to the border-entry schedule for travellers over the festive season, as well as updates on the progress on South Africa’s visa systems at a press conference on Sunday 1 December.

Image supplied

Extended hours and increased port capacity

Last week the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced that it would be increasing its capacity at ports over the festive period. Minister Motsoaledi said that the department is working with border law enforcement agencies, and the six countries sharing borders with South Africa, to ensure ease of movement for travellers over the festive season. ‘We want travellers to enter and leave South Africa without hindrance in this peak period,’ says Motsoaledi, ‘and to do so in a manner that is legally permissible, without breaking any law of our country.’

Home Affairs announced that capacity would be increased from Wednesday 4 December 2019 until Monday 13 January 2020.

The ports of entry with traditionally high volumes of movement will have their operating hours increased by between one and seven hours. The Lebombo and Oshoek ports of entry will also be open for 24 hours on specific days.

Home Affairs will deploy about 400 additional officials at selected ports to assist with delivery of immigration services and offer technical support at the borders. The majority of these officials will be posted at the Beit Bridge Port of Entry with Zimbabwe, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge Port of Entry with Lesotho and the Ficksburg Port of Entry with Lesotho. Capacity has also been increased for the South African police and revenue Services (customs) for this period.

Image: Department of Home Affairs

TIP: Ensure that all your travel documents are in order to avoid unnecessary delays at ports. These include passports, visas, health certificates, permits for specified goods, plants and animals and vehicle insurance and bank authorised cross-border documents for vehicles.


The Department has also begun its pilot testing of the new electronic visa application system. The system, which is meant to streamline the visa application process and simplify travel, is being tested in Kenya. According to the DHA, the first Kenyan tourist who applied for the visitors’ visa on the new e-visa system arrived on the afternoon of Saturday 30 November, with more expected to touch down in SA this week.

‘In early 2020, we’ll include China, India and Nigeria to the pilot which will run until March 2020,’ Motsoaledi said.

Tunisia has also been added to the list of 82 other countries which enjoy visa-free status. South Africans will also be able to visit the North-African republic without a visa, but implementation of this agreement hasn’t been decided.

Also read:

Chef Mynhardt’s festive fruitcake

13 spots to celebrate New Year’s Eve in SA

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