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International Travel

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Country Information

South Africa

Country Information

South Africa
Republic of South Africa
Last Updated: July 12, 2017
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

30 days 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

2 consecutive empty visa pages per entry

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No, if visiting 90 days or less

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow fever at least 10 days before arrival is required for travelers originating from or transiting through WHO-designated yellow fever countries

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if declared; No Kruger coins.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if amount was declared on entry; Up to 15 Kruger coins if proof purchased with foreign currency

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia
Pretoria 0083
South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(12) 431-4000 / 012-431-4000
Fax: +(27)(12) 431-5504 / 012-431-5504
The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide consular services to the public.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassySA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassySA

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone:+(27)(11) 290-3000 / 011-290-3000 (Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 
Fax: +(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 

consularjohannesburg@state.gov

 

U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945,
Cape Town, South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(21) 702-7300 / 021-702-7300 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)

Fax: +(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)

U.S. Consulate General Durban
303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street)
31st Floor Old Mutual Centre
Durban 4001
South Africa

Telephone: (+27)(31) 305-7600 / 031-305-7600 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 079-111-1445 / (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (from within South Africa)

Fax: (+27)(31) 305-7691 / 031-305-7691(from within South Africa)

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Destination Description

See our Fact Sheet on South Africa for information on U.S. – South Africa relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

South Africa strictly enforces entry and exit requirements and other immigration laws. Failure to observe these requirements may result in the traveler being denied entry, detained, deported, and/or deemed inadmissible to enter South Africa in the future.  

Please visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up to date entry and exit requirements.

The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa is located at 3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 232-4400. Visit the Embassy of South Africa for the most current visa information.

Visas: U.S. citizen visitors to South Africa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, short business meetings, or in transit do not require visas in advance. Visitor visas will be issued at the port of entry in South Africa. If you travel to South Africa for any other purpose (e.g. employment or study), you must obtain a visa in advance.

Two Consecutive Blank Visa Pages: South Africa requires travelers to have two completely blank visa pages in their passports upon every arrival in South Africa. You will be denied entry and forced to return to your point of origin if you do not have two blank visa pages.

Traveling with minors: There are special requirements for minors traveling through South African ports of entry. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up-to-date requirements for traveling with minors to or from South Africa.

Immunizations: Travelers entering South Africa from WHO-designated countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission must present their current and valid International Certificate of Vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) (“yellow card”). See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s South Africa page

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of South Africa.  However, South Africa has a high HIV/AIDS prevalence.

Other: Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Messages regarding demonstrations and strikes, explosive device/suspicious packages, and weather-related events are posted on the Embassy’s website.

In South Africa the equivalent to the “911” emergency line is 10111.

The following paragraphs provide a summary, but please read the Department of State’s most recent Overseas Security Advisory Council Crime and Safety Report on South Africa, which provides detailed information about safety and security concerns for travelers to South Africa.

Civil Unrest: Strikes and demonstrations occur frequently. These can develop quickly and occasionally turn violent. Strikes can also interrupt provision of electricity, water, public transportation, fuel, and other goods and services. Periodic incidents of mob violence directed against refugees and immigrants from other African countries have occurred in South Africa.

Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance during your movements around the country. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
  • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Monitor news and consular messages.

Crime: South Africa has a very high level of crime. Violent crimes, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles affect visitors and residents alike. Crime can occur anywhere, and U.S. government staff and visitors have been robbed in the immediate vicinity of our diplomatic facilities. You should exercise particular caution in the central business districts (CBDs) of major cities, especially after dark. Crime victims have also been targeted in the arrivals hall of OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, followed, and then robbed once they reach their home or hotel.

  • Avoid walking alone especially after dark.
  • Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area.
  • Do not display cash and valuables.
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location. 

Internet financial and romance scams: See the Department of State and FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence should first contact the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General at the numbers in the Embassy Information section of this page. 

Report crimes to the local police at 10111. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Game parks and outdoor safety: Visitors have been injured and killed by wild animals in South Africa. It is dangerous to leave your vehicle in game parks outside of designated areas. Observe park regulations. Be mindful of sharks when swimming. Rip tides are common and very dangerous.  Do not swim alone in isolated beach areas or dive into unfamiliar waters.

Hikers must be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and ensure they have proper clothing and supplies. Many areas, especially in the Western Cape province, experience brush fires during the summer months (December-February). These fires can burn for several days.  Monitor local media and follow fire crew instructions regarding road closures and evacuations.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You should know that we are limited in what we can do to assist detainees, and your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or imprisonment.

Furthermore, some crimes are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. Consulate in South Africa immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in South Africa. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: South Africa law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but these laws are rarely enforced. However, many tourist attractions, and restaurants near tourist attractions, are equipped with ramps and other options to facilitate access.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Special Circumstances: In March 2017, the city of Cape Town declared a state of disaster due to drought, and the Western Cape government declared a state of disaster throughout the province in May 2017. The Government has implemented restrictions on water usage and urges all residents and visitors to minimize their consumption of water. Restrictions and rationing of water may become more stringent as the available supply dwindles. The City of Cape Town website contains current information on reservoir levels and water restrictions. 

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Health

Private medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks, but limited elsewhere. Private medical facilities require a deposit before admitting patients. Pharmacies are well-stocked, but you should carry an adequate supply of prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. HIV and AIDS is a major public health concern.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Healthcare providers, including ambulances require payment in cash before services are performed.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Embassy of South Africa to ensure the medication is legal in South Africa. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are generally good in South Africa, but the road traffic death rate is nearly three times higher in South Africa than in the United States. The high incidence of road traffic mortality is due to a combination of poor driving, limited enforcement of traffic laws, road rage, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Use extreme caution driving at night. U.S. Mission employees are prohibited from driving after dark outside of major metropolitan areas, except for highway travel between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Traffic lights are frequently out of order. 

Traffic Laws: Traffic in South Africa moves on the left, and the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the car. Under South African law, all occupants of motor vehicles equipped with seatbelts are required to wear them while the vehicle is in operation. Texting or talking on a cell phone without a hands-free unit while driving is illegal. Treat all intersections with malfunctioning traffic lights as a four-way stop.

South African law does not require an international driver’s license. A valid driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory that has the signature and photo of the driver is valid to drive in South Africa for stays of less than six months.

Please refer to the Road Safety page for more information. Also, visit the websites of South African Tourism and the South African National Roads Agency for more information regarding local transportation trends and laws.

Public Transportation:

Taxis - The use of individual metered taxis dispatched from established taxi companies, hotel taxis, and tour buses is recommended. U.S. Mission employees are not allowed to use minibus taxis or hail taxis on the street or use a taxi stand.  Minibus taxi drivers are often unlicensed and drive erratically.

Transportation Network Companies - Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber, also operate in South Africa. U.S. Mission employees may only use TNCs with a dispatch application that provides vehicle description, license plate number, and the driver’s name, picture, user rating, and the ability to share trip information. The user should verify the information provided by the company, such as the vehicle make/model, license plate number, and driver’s name/picture, prior to entering the vehicle. TNCs should not be used to travel outside major metropolitan areas or previously disadvantaged areas. Pick up and drop off should not be done near a traditional taxi stand.

Rail Service - The long-distance rail service, Shosholoza Meyl; the rapid rail Gautrain in Gauteng Province; and luxury rail services, such as Shosholoza Meyl Premier Classe, Blue Train, and Rovos Rail are generally safe and reliable, though mechanical problems and criminal incidents do sometimes occur. U.S. Mission employees are not allowed to use the Metrorail commuter rail service because of safety and crime concerns.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards for oversight of South Africa’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to South Africa should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospace Intelligence Agency (select “broadcast warnings”).

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia
Pretoria 0083
South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(12) 431-4000 / 012-431-4000
Fax: +(27)(12) 431-5504 / 012-431-5504
The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide consular services to the public.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassySA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassySA

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone:+(27)(11) 290-3000 / 011-290-3000 (Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 
Fax: +(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 

consularjohannesburg@state.gov

 

U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945,
Cape Town, South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(21) 702-7300 / 021-702-7300 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)

Fax: +(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)

U.S. Consulate General Durban
303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street)
31st Floor Old Mutual Centre
Durban 4001
South Africa

Telephone: (+27)(31) 305-7600 / 031-305-7600 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 079-111-1445 / (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (from within South Africa)

Fax: (+27)(31) 305-7691 / 031-305-7691(from within South Africa)

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General Information

South Africa and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Convention (Hague Abduction Convention) since November 1, 1997. 

For information concerning travel to South Africa including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for South Africa.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizen Services, Office of Children’s Issues, facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including South Africa.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website


The South African Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Office of the Family Advocate.  The South African Central Authority (SACA) has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. They forward completed Hague applications to the appropriate Family Advocate attached to the High Court in the jurisdiction where the defendant resides.  The Advocate informs the taking-parent of the petition and, if appropriate, seeks a voluntary return.  If the taking-parent does not agree to a return, the Advocate files the petition with the High Court.  The Children’s Act of 2010 requires SACA to appoint an attorney ad litem for the child/ren for Hague proceedings; you can find more information here

They can be reached at: 

Office of the Chief Family Advocate
Central Authority for the Republic of South Africa
Room 9.36 West Tower
Momentum City Walk
c/o Prinsloo & Pretorius Streets
Private Bag X81
PRETORIA 0001
Republic of South Africa
Telephone: 27 (12) 357 8022
Fax:  27 (12) 357 8043
e-mail : PeSeabi@justice.gov.za
Internet: Office of the Chief Family Advocate

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in South Africa, the left-behind parent or legal guardian must submit a Hague application and the original or certified supporting documents to the SACA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the South African Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or the South African Central Authority.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs are the responsibility of the applicant parent, and may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, South Africa.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in South Africa.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

It is not necessary for a left-behind parent to retain a private attorney for Hague Abduction Convention proceedings. The Family Advocate will present an application on behalf of the left-behind parent to the South African court for the child’s return; the Advocate represents the petition, not the petitioner. A parent has the option of hiring a private attorney instead of using an appointed Family Advocate. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa posts lists of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law. 

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Mediation through the Office of the Family Advocate is available to families with a divorce case pending in the South African court system.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Africa is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Therefore all intercountry adoptions between South Africa and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

South African law recognizes two kinds of adoptions by foreigners:

  1. Local adoptions of children resident in South Africa by foreign residents of South Africa, and
  2. Intercountry adoptions of children resident in South Africa by foreign citizens residing abroad.

The first category (“non-Hague adoption”) requires the foreign adoptive parent(s) to be resident for five years in South Africa, and the adoptions are handled by an accredited agency and finalized by the Department of Social Development under laws relating to local adoptions. Note: Under applicable U.S. laws and regulations, children adopted in non-Hague adoptions will only be eligible for immigration to the United States after a waiting period of two years’ residence and two years’ legal custody with the adoptive parent(s).

 The second category (“Hague adoption”) is only available to citizens of countries with a working agreement between the prospective adoptive parent’s country of origin and South Africa. As Of This Writing, There Have Been No Working Agreements Finalized Between South African And U.S. Adoption Service Providers. Please contact the U.S. Consulate Johannesburg Immigrant Visa Unit (contact information below) for the latest information regarding adoption in South Africa. 

There have been a number of cases in which American Citizens have been issued “Guardianship Orders” from the South African High Court. These orders do not constitute “irrevocable release for adoption and immigration” as required by United States Immigration Law. As such, they cannot be used for immigration purposes.

Note:  Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Visit our Hague Transition Cases page for more information.

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Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and South Africa is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from South Africa, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Learn more by visiting our Who Can Adopt page.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, South Africa also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: None specified.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: The adoptive parent(s) must be over the age of 18.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: None. Both married couples and partners in a life partnership (including same-sex partners) can jointly adopt a child and a single person may also adopt individually or adopt a stepchild following marriage to the child’s biological parent.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: There are no specific income requirements for adoption in South Africa. The adoptive parents must satisfy the Commissioner of child welfare that they can support and educate the child before an adoption order is issued.
  • OTHER REQUIRMENTS:  Eligibility requirements beyond those above change based on the circumstances of the case. In addition, family members will be given preference over non-relatives, regardless of age.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because South Africa is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from South Africa must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that South Africa attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to South Africa’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

The consent of the child’s biological father, except in cases of rape and incest, must be obtained before a child born out of wedlock is placed for adoption. Unmarried fathers have the right to apply for access, custody or guardianship.  Previously, only the consent of the biological mother was required. A married or divorced biological father can prevent his wife or former wife from relinquishing their child(ren) for adoption.

According to South African law, a child born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth is considered illegitimate. A child born to unmarried parents becomes legitimate as soon as his/her biological parents marry. Normally, the mother of an illegitimate child is not only the legal guardian of her child, but also has custody even if she herself is still a minor. Only if it is proven that she is unfit to have custody can the child be taken from her and placed in alternative custody. Under current laws, an illegitimate child may take the surname of its father only if the father has formally acknowledged parentage of the child in the birth register. The mother alone has the right to decide the child’s name.

  • Relinquishment Requirements: If one or both of the child’s parents are alive and can be found, they must both provide written consent to the adoption.
  • Abandonment Requirements: A child whose parents are both dead or who has been abandoned is available for adoption. In the case of the parents’ death, government-issued death certificates must be obtained to demonstrate the child’s status as an orphan. If the child has been abandoned, some evidence of abandonment may be required.
  • Age Requirements: The child must be under 18 years of age.
  • Sibling Requirements: None specified.
  • Requirements for Special Needs or Medical Conditions: South African law does not require adoption agencies to disclose whether a child is HIV-positive. There is no legal requirement for prospective parents to be tested for HIV; however, adoption agencies may require HIV testing for the child, the natural mother and/or the adoptive parents before proceeding with a placement.
  • Waiting Period: None specified.
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How to Adopt

SOUTH AFRICA'S ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Department of Social Development

THE PROCESS

Because South Africa is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from South Africa must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. South Africa implemented the Children's Act on April 1, 2010, which formalizes laws and procedures regarding intercountry adoption under the Hague Convention.

Note: If you completed a full and final adoption or filed your I-600a or I-600 with USCIS before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Visit our Hague Transition Cases page for more information.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in South Africa
  6. Bring your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider: 
    The first step in adopting a child from South Africa is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been Hague-accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and South Africa. South Africa requires that adoption service providers based in the United States also have formal working agreements with accredited counterparts in South Africa. Please contact the U.S. Consulate Johannesburg's Immigrant Visa Unit for the most updated information on which adoption service providers are accredited to provide service in South Africa. Visit our Working with an Adoption Service Provider page for more information.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Benefits Center (NBC). Learn more by visiting our Who Can Adopt page.

    The accredited organization is tasked with identifying a child who is eligible for adoption. After a home study has been completed by an accredited organization, the case is referred to a children’s court for a final hearing.

    Once the U.S. government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in South Africa. South Africa’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under South Africa’s law. 

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If both the United States and South Africa determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in South Africa may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.  

    An order of adoption terminates all the rights and obligations existing between the child and any prior legally-recognized parents. The adopted child is thereafter deemed by law to be the legitimate child of the adoptive parent(s). The order of adoption confers the surname of the adoptive parent on the adopted child.

  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the prospective adoptive child qualifies as a Hague adoptee and would be eligible under U.S. law to enter the United States after being adopted abroad. Visit our Who can be Adopted page for more information.

    After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg. The Consular Officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.  If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the South Africa’s adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.

    Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

  5. Adopt the Child in South Africa:

    Remember: Before you adopt a child in South Africa, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in South Africa. 

    The process for finalizing the adoption in South Africa generally includes the following:

    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The approval of the Commissioner of Child Welfare, a designated officer of the South African Department of Justice, is required in order for an adoption order to be issued. The Commissioner of Child Welfare will consider the parent(s)’ suitability for adoption and the best interests of the child with the input of a social worker accredited by the Department of Social Development. The Department of Social Development is the central authority for all adoptions.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: After a home study has been completed by an accredited organization, the case is referred to a children's court for the final hearing. An order of adoption terminates all the rights and obligations existing between the child and any prior legally-recognized parents. The order of adoption confers the surname of the adoptive parent on the adopted child.
    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: The adoption procedure is initiated by contacting an accredited welfare organization which will identify a child who is eligible for adoption.
    • TIME FRAME: It can take up to two years to complete South African adoption requirements.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Application of adoption is initiated through an accredited adoption services provider.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The U.S. Consulate General discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted. “Donations,” or “expediting” fees, which may be requested from prospective adoptive parents, have the appearance of “buying” a baby and put all future adoptions in South Africa at risk. In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.  
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Due to the South African order of precedence (preferring relatives, then South African citizens, and then foreigners) for adopting orphans, the document requirements can vary from case to case. As a starting point, contact the Commissioner of Child Welfare and the South African Department of Social Development (contact information below).

      NOTE: If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Find more information on our Traveler's Checklist page.

  6. Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
    • Birth Certificate 
      You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

      First, the adoption must be recorded in the child’s birth register at any district office of the Department of Home Affairs (www.dha.gov.za). Submit a written request, accompanied by a certified copy of the adoption order. If the adoption order authorizes the change of the child’s surname to that of the adoptive parent(s), this will be completed at the same time on form BI-193. The fee to record an adoption is R70.00 (South African Rand).

      Submit a completed BI-154 application form in person to any district office of the Department of Home Affairs. You must request the unabridged or long-form version of the birth certificate, which will list the names, birthdates and birthplaces of both parents along with those of the child. The fee for the unabridged birth certificate is R70.00 and processing can take several weeks.

    • South African Passport

      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need to obtain a South African passport. 

      Submit a completed DHA-73 application form in person to any district office of the Department of Home Affairs, accompanied by the unabridged birth certificate. The parents must satisfy the passport officer of the child’s identity and their parental relationship to the child. The child’s photographs will be checked to ensure that they are a true image of the applicant. If the child is over 16, his or her fingerprints will be taken for checking against the Population Register. The South African child passport (applicants under 16) is valid for 5 years and the fee is R145.00. The regular passport (applicants over 16) is valid for 10 years and the fee is R190.00 for a 32-page book. Processing time for all passports is approximately six weeks.

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa 
      After the adoption is granted and you have obtained the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an immigrant visa from the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg for your child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

      On March 3, 2008, the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa’s panel physicians began using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions (TB TIs) for the TB medical screening for all immigrant visa applicants from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Swaziland, including adopted children. The 2007 TB TIs include new requirements that affect the pace at which some adoption cases can be concluded. Please visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/panel_2007.htm for further information regarding the 2007 Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment for Panel Physicians.

      The following additional documents are required for children who are fully adopted under South African law:

      • The child’s original, unabridged birth certificate, showing the new adoptive parents’ names;
      • Evidence that the child meets the definition of Convention Adoptee;
      • A final decree of adoption reflecting that both spouses (prospective adoptive parents) were parties to the adoption;
      • Evidence of compliance with all relevant South African regulations
      • A passport issued in the child’s correct, current name; and
      • The child’s medical examination completed by one of the Consulate’s approved panel physicians.

      Note: If all required documents are in order and the child is qualified for the visa, it generally takes between 2-3 days to issue the visa.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to issue the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview due to security procedures.

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States on an IH-3 immigrant visa. You may then apply for your child’s U.S. passport by following the instructions at http://travel.state.gov(see “Traveling Abroad” below for more information).

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows children who entered the U.S. on an IH-4 immigrant visa to acquire U.S. citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. state court as quickly as possible.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 

Visit our page on Acquiring U.S. Citizenship for your Child to learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

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Traveling Abroad

APPLYING FOR YOUR U.S. PASSPORT

U.S. citizens are required to use a valid U.S. passport to enter or depart the United States. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

OBTAINING YOUR VISA

In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for South Africa, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

STAYING SAFE ON YOUR TRIP

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability. 

STAYING IN TOUCH ON YOUR TRIP

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in South Africa, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

What does South Africa require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

South Africa has no post-adoption requirements.

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Consulate in South Africa
U.S. Consulate General
1 Sandton Drive
Sandhurst 2196
Johannesburg
Tel: 27-11-290-3000
Fax: 27-11-884-0396

The Consulate in Johannesburg handles all consular matters, including immigrant visas, for Pretoria. The United States also has Consulates General in Cape Town and Durban; however these offices do not process immigrant visas.

South Africa’s Adoption Authority
Department of Social Development
Registrar of Adoptions
Private Bag X901
Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Tel: 27-12-312-7592
Fax: 27-12-312-7837

Commissioner of Child Welfare
Private Bag X61
Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Tel: 27-12-328-4026
Fax:  27-12-321-8124

Embassy of South Africa
Embassy of the Republic of South Africa
3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Tel: 202-232-4400
* South Africa also has Consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
E-mail:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 36 Months
A-2 None Multiple 36 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 36 Months
F-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-1 None Multiple 36 Months
G-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-3 None Multiple 36 Months
G-4 None Multiple 36 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2R $85.00 Multiple 36 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
I None Multiple 36 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 36 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 36 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 36 Months
L-2 None Multiple 36 Months
M-1 None Multiple 12 Months
M-2 None Multiple 12 Months
N-8 None Multiple 12 Months
N-9 None Multiple 12 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

All citizens and permanent residents of South Africa are required to hold an identity document. Applications for civil documents can be expedited if the applicant's ID Number is provided.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available. Applicants should submit their requests directly to the Department of Home Affairs, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001, and should request a "long-form" birth certificate, which lists the details on the parents. Applicants should also provide their full name given at birth, their date and place of birth, and both parents' names, including the mother's maiden name. The request should specify that an English language copy is desired. In cases of illegitimacy or adoption, the long-form birth certificate will not be sent directly to the applicant (for reasons of confidentiality), but will be sent to the appropriate consular post. In cases where a search reveals that the applicant's birth was never registered, a form letter to this effect will be issued.

Death Certificates

Available. (Stertesertifikaat). Applicants should apply to the Department of Home Affairs, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001. All applicants must furnish the full name and date of birth of the deceased and the date and place of death.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Only unabridged ("long-form") marriage certificates are acceptable. There are three different laws under which a marriage may be formed in South Africa: (1) the Marriage Act, 1961, which allows for the solemnization of a civil or religious marriage between a man and a woman; (2) the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998, which allows for the registration of marriages under African customary law; and (3) the Civil Union Act, 2006, which allows for the solemnization of a civil or religious marriage or a civil partnership between two people regardless of gender, thus making same-sex marriage legal in South Africa. The legal consequences of a marriage under the Civil Union Act are the same as those of a marriage under the Marriage Act. A person may only be married under one of these laws at a time, except that a couple in a monogamous customary marriage may contract a marriage with each other under the Marriage Act.

In order to obtain a long-form marriage certificate, applicants should apply to the Department of Home Affairs www.dha.gov.za, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001, and should furnish the full names of parties as well as the date and place of marriage, i.e., the name of the magisterial district where the church or registry office was located. The request should specify that a long-form marriage certificate (listing the prior marital status of both parties) is desired in the English language. Should the marriage certificate be issued in a language other than English, the applicant must also submit an English translation.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Application should be made to the registrar of the High Court or at Regional divisions of the Magistrate's Courts. 

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update

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Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Criminal records since 1901 covering the entire Republic are maintained at the South African Police Headquarters, Pretoria. The period The Commissioner of the South African Police issues certificates upon application, stating whether or not a criminal record exists, and, if so, particulars of the offense as well as any sentence passed.

The police authorities require an applicant to present verification of identity, such as a Book of Life, or valid passport, and a payment of R59.00 (South African rand fifty nine payable in cash, cheque or postal order, made payable to the South African police).

To obtain a certificate that is issued in single copy only, fingerprints must be taken by the local police in the applicant's place of residence. The South African police forwards the completed fingerprint chart and the fee to the head office in Pretoria for issuance of the police clearance certificate. If the applicant is residing in the United States, he or she should forward a bank draft in the aount of R59.00 together with a completed fingerprint chart (bearing an official signature and stamp of the local police station) to:

South African Police Service
Criminal Record Centre
Private Bang X308
Pretoria 0001, South Africa

Alternatively, he/she should authorize a friend/relative in South Africa to submit the application on behalf of the applicant.

Court Records

Available. Requests should be addressed to the magistrate's court in the magisterial district where the trial took place. The full name of the applicant and the date of the trial are required.

Prison Records

Please check back for update.

Military Records

Military Records

Available. Non-officers who served during World War II received discharge certificates on Discharge Form D.D.342, size 6-1/4 x 8-3/4", inscribed in English on both sides, and which includes a description of the final discharge signed by the appropriate military official. Officers received release certificates on Release Form D.D.201, titled Release Certificate (Officer), size 8" x 6-1/2", inscribed in English on one side, Afrikaans on the other, bearing the dispersal office date stamp in the lower left-hand corner, and signed by the O.C., Dispersal Depot. Application must be made to the Chief of Staff, Personnel (War Records), P/B X281, Pretoria 0001. Full name, date of birth, and S.A. identity number and military number should be furnished. Persons who have served in the armed forces since World War II should write to the regiment to which they were attached, furnishing full name, date of birth and military number.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Please check back for update

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Johannesburg, South Africa (Consulate General) -- All visa categories (including all Follow-to-Join Refugees and Asylees)

Cape Town, South Africa (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant visas only

Durban, South Africa (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant visas only

Visa Services

All immigrant visas are provided through Johannesburg. Nonimmigrant visas are provided as indicated in the table below:

Location Areas Serviced

Johannesburg

  • Gauteng Province
  • Free State
  • Mpumalanga Province
  • Northern Province
  • Northwestern Province

Cape Town

  • Eastern Cape Province
  • Northern Cape Province
  • Western Cape Province
  • St. Helena and Dependencies

Durban

  • Kwazulu-Natal Province

 

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 274-7992 (202) 244-9417

Chicago, IL (312) 939-7929 (312) 939-2588

Los Angeles, CA (323) 651-0902 (323) 651-5969

New York, NY (212) 213-4880 (212) 213-0102

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite
Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone
+(27)(11) 290-3000 (from South Africa 011-290-3000)
Emergency
+(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)
Fax
+(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)
South Africa Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Country Information

South Africa
Republic of South Africa
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Embassy Messages
Quick Facts
PASSPORT VALIDITY:

30 days 

BLANK PASSPORT PAGES:

2 consecutive empty visa pages per entry

TOURIST VISA REQUIRED:

No, if visiting 90 days or less

VACCINATIONS:

Yellow fever at least 10 days before arrival is required for travelers originating from or transiting through WHO-designated yellow fever countries

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR ENTRY:

ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if declared; No Kruger coins.

CURRENCY RESTRICTIONS FOR EXIT:

ZAR 25,000; Foreign currency unlimited if amount was declared on entry; Up to 15 Kruger coins if proof purchased with foreign currency

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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia
Pretoria 0083
South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(12) 431-4000 / 012-431-4000
Fax: +(27)(12) 431-5504 / 012-431-5504
The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide consular services to the public.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassySA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassySA

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone:+(27)(11) 290-3000 / 011-290-3000 (Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 
Fax: +(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 

consularjohannesburg@state.gov

 

U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945,
Cape Town, South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(21) 702-7300 / 021-702-7300 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)

Fax: +(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)

U.S. Consulate General Durban
303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street)
31st Floor Old Mutual Centre
Durban 4001
South Africa

Telephone: (+27)(31) 305-7600 / 031-305-7600 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 079-111-1445 / (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (from within South Africa)

Fax: (+27)(31) 305-7691 / 031-305-7691(from within South Africa)

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Destination Description

See our Fact Sheet on South Africa for information on U.S. – South Africa relations.

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Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements

South Africa strictly enforces entry and exit requirements and other immigration laws. Failure to observe these requirements may result in the traveler being denied entry, detained, deported, and/or deemed inadmissible to enter South Africa in the future.  

Please visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up to date entry and exit requirements.

The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa is located at 3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, telephone (202) 232-4400. Visit the Embassy of South Africa for the most current visa information.

Visas: U.S. citizen visitors to South Africa for stays of up to 90 days for tourism, short business meetings, or in transit do not require visas in advance. Visitor visas will be issued at the port of entry in South Africa. If you travel to South Africa for any other purpose (e.g. employment or study), you must obtain a visa in advance.

Two Consecutive Blank Visa Pages: South Africa requires travelers to have two completely blank visa pages in their passports upon every arrival in South Africa. You will be denied entry and forced to return to your point of origin if you do not have two blank visa pages.

Traveling with minors: There are special requirements for minors traveling through South African ports of entry. Visit the Department of Home Affairs website for the most up-to-date requirements for traveling with minors to or from South Africa.

Immunizations: Travelers entering South Africa from WHO-designated countries with risk of yellow fever virus (YFV) transmission must present their current and valid International Certificate of Vaccination as approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) (“yellow card”). See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s South Africa page

The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of South Africa.  However, South Africa has a high HIV/AIDS prevalence.

Other: Find information on dual nationalityprevention of international child abduction and customs regulations on our websites.

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Safety and Security

Messages regarding demonstrations and strikes, explosive device/suspicious packages, and weather-related events are posted on the Embassy’s website.

In South Africa the equivalent to the “911” emergency line is 10111.

The following paragraphs provide a summary, but please read the Department of State’s most recent Overseas Security Advisory Council Crime and Safety Report on South Africa, which provides detailed information about safety and security concerns for travelers to South Africa.

Civil Unrest: Strikes and demonstrations occur frequently. These can develop quickly and occasionally turn violent. Strikes can also interrupt provision of electricity, water, public transportation, fuel, and other goods and services. Periodic incidents of mob violence directed against refugees and immigrants from other African countries have occurred in South Africa.

Precautions:

  • Avoid demonstrations and use vigilance during your movements around the country. Even events intended to be peaceful can become violent.
  • Maintain caution in areas frequented by foreigners.
  • Monitor news and consular messages.

Crime: South Africa has a very high level of crime. Violent crimes, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and "smash-and-grab" attacks on vehicles affect visitors and residents alike. Crime can occur anywhere, and U.S. government staff and visitors have been robbed in the immediate vicinity of our diplomatic facilities. You should exercise particular caution in the central business districts (CBDs) of major cities, especially after dark. Crime victims have also been targeted in the arrivals hall of OR Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, followed, and then robbed once they reach their home or hotel.

  • Avoid walking alone especially after dark.
  • Avoid visiting informal settlement areas unless you are with someone familiar with the area.
  • Do not display cash and valuables.
  • Drive with doors locked and windows closed.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable). Keep original documents in a secure location. 

Internet financial and romance scams: See the Department of State and FBI pages for information.

Victims of Crime:

U.S. citizen victims of sexual assault or domestic violence should first contact the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General at the numbers in the Embassy Information section of this page. 

Report crimes to the local police at 10111. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.

We can:

  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • assist you in reporting a crime to the police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
  • replace a stolen or lost passport

Game parks and outdoor safety: Visitors have been injured and killed by wild animals in South Africa. It is dangerous to leave your vehicle in game parks outside of designated areas. Observe park regulations. Be mindful of sharks when swimming. Rip tides are common and very dangerous.  Do not swim alone in isolated beach areas or dive into unfamiliar waters.

Hikers must be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions and ensure they have proper clothing and supplies. Many areas, especially in the Western Cape province, experience brush fires during the summer months (December-February). These fires can burn for several days.  Monitor local media and follow fire crew instructions regarding road closures and evacuations.

For further information:

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Local Laws & Special Circumstances

Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. You should know that we are limited in what we can do to assist detainees, and your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or imprisonment.

Furthermore, some crimes are also prosecutable in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see our website on crimes against minors abroad and the Department of Justice website.

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the nearest U.S. Consulate in South Africa immediately. See our webpage for further information.

Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:

LGBTI Travelers: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in South Africa. 

See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.

Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: South Africa law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but these laws are rarely enforced. However, many tourist attractions, and restaurants near tourist attractions, are equipped with ramps and other options to facilitate access.

Students: See our Students Abroad page and FBI travel tips.

Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.

Special Circumstances: In March 2017, the city of Cape Town declared a state of disaster due to drought, and the Western Cape government declared a state of disaster throughout the province in May 2017. The Government has implemented restrictions on water usage and urges all residents and visitors to minimize their consumption of water. Restrictions and rationing of water may become more stringent as the available supply dwindles. The City of Cape Town website contains current information on reservoir levels and water restrictions. 

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Health

Private medical facilities are good in urban areas and in the vicinity of game parks, but limited elsewhere. Private medical facilities require a deposit before admitting patients. Pharmacies are well-stocked, but you should carry an adequate supply of prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. HIV and AIDS is a major public health concern.

You are responsible for all medical costs. U.S. Medicare does not cover you overseas. Healthcare providers, including ambulances require payment in cash before services are performed.

Medical Insurance: If your health insurance plan does not provide coverage overseas, we strongly recommend supplemental medical insurance and medical evacuation plans.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Embassy of South Africa to ensure the medication is legal in South Africa. Always, carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For further health information:

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Travel and Transportation

Road Conditions and Safety: Road conditions are generally good in South Africa, but the road traffic death rate is nearly three times higher in South Africa than in the United States. The high incidence of road traffic mortality is due to a combination of poor driving, limited enforcement of traffic laws, road rage, aggressive driving, distracted driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol. Use extreme caution driving at night. U.S. Mission employees are prohibited from driving after dark outside of major metropolitan areas, except for highway travel between Pretoria and Johannesburg. Traffic lights are frequently out of order. 

Traffic Laws: Traffic in South Africa moves on the left, and the steering wheel is on the right-hand side of the car. Under South African law, all occupants of motor vehicles equipped with seatbelts are required to wear them while the vehicle is in operation. Texting or talking on a cell phone without a hands-free unit while driving is illegal. Treat all intersections with malfunctioning traffic lights as a four-way stop.

South African law does not require an international driver’s license. A valid driver’s license from any U.S. state or territory that has the signature and photo of the driver is valid to drive in South Africa for stays of less than six months.

Please refer to the Road Safety page for more information. Also, visit the websites of South African Tourism and the South African National Roads Agency for more information regarding local transportation trends and laws.

Public Transportation:

Taxis - The use of individual metered taxis dispatched from established taxi companies, hotel taxis, and tour buses is recommended. U.S. Mission employees are not allowed to use minibus taxis or hail taxis on the street or use a taxi stand.  Minibus taxi drivers are often unlicensed and drive erratically.

Transportation Network Companies - Transportation Network Companies (TNCs), such as Uber, also operate in South Africa. U.S. Mission employees may only use TNCs with a dispatch application that provides vehicle description, license plate number, and the driver’s name, picture, user rating, and the ability to share trip information. The user should verify the information provided by the company, such as the vehicle make/model, license plate number, and driver’s name/picture, prior to entering the vehicle. TNCs should not be used to travel outside major metropolitan areas or previously disadvantaged areas. Pick up and drop off should not be done near a traditional taxi stand.

Rail Service - The long-distance rail service, Shosholoza Meyl; the rapid rail Gautrain in Gauteng Province; and luxury rail services, such as Shosholoza Meyl Premier Classe, Blue Train, and Rovos Rail are generally safe and reliable, though mechanical problems and criminal incidents do sometimes occur. U.S. Mission employees are not allowed to use the Metrorail commuter rail service because of safety and crime concerns.

Aviation Safety Oversight: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of South Africa’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization aviation safety standards for oversight of South Africa’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Maritime Travel: Mariners planning travel to South Africa should also check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the Maritime Administration website. Information may also be posted to the websites of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Geospace Intelligence Agency (select “broadcast warnings”).

Hague Convention Participation
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention?
Yes
What You Can Do
Learn how to respond to abductions FROM the US
Learn how to respond to abductions TO the US
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Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy Pretoria
877 Pretorius Street, Arcadia
Pretoria 0083
South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(12) 431-4000 / 012-431-4000
Fax: +(27)(12) 431-5504 / 012-431-5504
The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not provide consular services to the public.
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/USEmbassySA
Twitter: https://twitter.com/USEmbassySA

Consulates

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone:+(27)(11) 290-3000 / 011-290-3000 (Monday – Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.)
Emergency After-Hours Telephone:+(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 
Fax: +(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 

consularjohannesburg@state.gov

 

U.S. Consulate General Cape Town
2 Reddam Avenue, West Lake 7945,
Cape Town, South Africa

Telephone: +(27)(21) 702-7300 / 021-702-7300 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)

Fax: +(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)

U.S. Consulate General Durban
303 Dr. Pixley KaSeme Street (formerly West Street)
31st Floor Old Mutual Centre
Durban 4001
South Africa

Telephone: (+27)(31) 305-7600 / 031-305-7600 (from within South Africa)

Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(27) 079-111-1445 / (031) 305-7600 or 079-111-1445 (from within South Africa)

Fax: (+27)(31) 305-7691 / 031-305-7691(from within South Africa)

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General Information

South Africa and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Convention (Hague Abduction Convention) since November 1, 1997. 

For information concerning travel to South Africa including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for South Africa.

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

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Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizen Services, Office of Children’s Issues, facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including South Africa.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children’s Issues
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website


The South African Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Office of the Family Advocate.  The South African Central Authority (SACA) has an administrative role in processing Hague Abduction Convention applications. They forward completed Hague applications to the appropriate Family Advocate attached to the High Court in the jurisdiction where the defendant resides.  The Advocate informs the taking-parent of the petition and, if appropriate, seeks a voluntary return.  If the taking-parent does not agree to a return, the Advocate files the petition with the High Court.  The Children’s Act of 2010 requires SACA to appoint an attorney ad litem for the child/ren for Hague proceedings; you can find more information here

They can be reached at: 

Office of the Chief Family Advocate
Central Authority for the Republic of South Africa
Room 9.36 West Tower
Momentum City Walk
c/o Prinsloo & Pretorius Streets
Private Bag X81
PRETORIA 0001
Republic of South Africa
Telephone: 27 (12) 357 8022
Fax:  27 (12) 357 8043
e-mail : PeSeabi@justice.gov.za
Internet: Office of the Chief Family Advocate

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in South Africa, the left-behind parent or legal guardian must submit a Hague application and the original or certified supporting documents to the SACA.  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the South African Central Authority, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or the South African Central Authority.  Attorney fees, if necessary, are the responsibility of the applicant parent. Additional costs are the responsibility of the applicant parent, and may include airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

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Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, South Africa.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in South Africa.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

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Retaining an Attorney

It is not necessary for a left-behind parent to retain a private attorney for Hague Abduction Convention proceedings. The Family Advocate will present an application on behalf of the left-behind parent to the South African court for the child’s return; the Advocate represents the petition, not the petitioner. A parent has the option of hiring a private attorney instead of using an appointed Family Advocate. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa posts lists of attorneys, including those who specialize in family law. 

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the following persons or firms. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

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Mediation

Mediation through the Office of the Family Advocate is available to families with a divorce case pending in the South African court system.

Exercising Custody Rights

While travelling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that country.  It is important for parents to understand that, although a left behind parent in the United States may have custody or visitation rights pursuant to a U.S. custody order, that order may not be valid and enforceable in the country in which the child is located.   For this reason, we strongly encourage you to speak to a local attorney when planning to remove a child from a foreign country without the consent of the other parent.  Attempts to remove your child to the United States may:

  • Endanger your child and others;
  • Prejudice any future judicial efforts; and
  • Could result in your arrest and imprisonment.

To understand the legal effect of a U.S. order in a foreign country, a parent should consult with a local attorney.  

For information about hiring an attorney abroad, see our section on Retaining a Foreign Attorney. 

Although we cannot recommend an attorney to you, most U.S. Embassies have lists of attorneys available online. Please visit the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate website for a full listing.

For more information on consular assistance for U.S. citizens arrested abroad, please see our website.

Country officers are available to speak with you Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.  For assistance with an abduction in progress or any emergency situation that occurs after normal business hours, on weekends, or federal holidays, please call toll free at 1-888-407-4747. See all contact information

DISCLAIMER: The information in this flyer is provided for general information only, is not intended to be legal advice, and may change without notice. Questions involving interpretation of law should be addressed to an attorney licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. 

 

Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner?
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Hague Convention Information

Africa is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption. Therefore all intercountry adoptions between South Africa and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.

South African law recognizes two kinds of adoptions by foreigners:

  1. Local adoptions of children resident in South Africa by foreign residents of South Africa, and
  2. Intercountry adoptions of children resident in South Africa by foreign citizens residing abroad.

The first category (“non-Hague adoption”) requires the foreign adoptive parent(s) to be resident for five years in South Africa, and the adoptions are handled by an accredited agency and finalized by the Department of Social Development under laws relating to local adoptions. Note: Under applicable U.S. laws and regulations, children adopted in non-Hague adoptions will only be eligible for immigration to the United States after a waiting period of two years’ residence and two years’ legal custody with the adoptive parent(s).

 The second category (“Hague adoption”) is only available to citizens of countries with a working agreement between the prospective adoptive parent’s country of origin and South Africa. As Of This Writing, There Have Been No Working Agreements Finalized Between South African And U.S. Adoption Service Providers. Please contact the U.S. Consulate Johannesburg Immigrant Visa Unit (contact information below) for the latest information regarding adoption in South Africa. 

There have been a number of cases in which American Citizens have been issued “Guardianship Orders” from the South African High Court. These orders do not constitute “irrevocable release for adoption and immigration” as required by United States Immigration Law. As such, they cannot be used for immigration purposes.

Note:  Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Visit our Hague Transition Cases page for more information.

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Who Can Adopt

Adoption between the United States and South Africa is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from South Africa, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Learn more by visiting our Who Can Adopt page.

In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, South Africa also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: None specified.
  • AGE REQUIREMENTS: The adoptive parent(s) must be over the age of 18.
  • MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: None. Both married couples and partners in a life partnership (including same-sex partners) can jointly adopt a child and a single person may also adopt individually or adopt a stepchild following marriage to the child’s biological parent.
  • INCOME REQUIREMENTS: There are no specific income requirements for adoption in South Africa. The adoptive parents must satisfy the Commissioner of child welfare that they can support and educate the child before an adoption order is issued.
  • OTHER REQUIRMENTS:  Eligibility requirements beyond those above change based on the circumstances of the case. In addition, family members will be given preference over non-relatives, regardless of age.
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Who Can Be Adopted

Because South Africa is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from South Africa must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that South Africa attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to South Africa’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

The consent of the child’s biological father, except in cases of rape and incest, must be obtained before a child born out of wedlock is placed for adoption. Unmarried fathers have the right to apply for access, custody or guardianship.  Previously, only the consent of the biological mother was required. A married or divorced biological father can prevent his wife or former wife from relinquishing their child(ren) for adoption.

According to South African law, a child born to parents who are not married to each other at the time of birth is considered illegitimate. A child born to unmarried parents becomes legitimate as soon as his/her biological parents marry. Normally, the mother of an illegitimate child is not only the legal guardian of her child, but also has custody even if she herself is still a minor. Only if it is proven that she is unfit to have custody can the child be taken from her and placed in alternative custody. Under current laws, an illegitimate child may take the surname of its father only if the father has formally acknowledged parentage of the child in the birth register. The mother alone has the right to decide the child’s name.

  • Relinquishment Requirements: If one or both of the child’s parents are alive and can be found, they must both provide written consent to the adoption.
  • Abandonment Requirements: A child whose parents are both dead or who has been abandoned is available for adoption. In the case of the parents’ death, government-issued death certificates must be obtained to demonstrate the child’s status as an orphan. If the child has been abandoned, some evidence of abandonment may be required.
  • Age Requirements: The child must be under 18 years of age.
  • Sibling Requirements: None specified.
  • Requirements for Special Needs or Medical Conditions: South African law does not require adoption agencies to disclose whether a child is HIV-positive. There is no legal requirement for prospective parents to be tested for HIV; however, adoption agencies may require HIV testing for the child, the natural mother and/or the adoptive parents before proceeding with a placement.
  • Waiting Period: None specified.
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How to Adopt

SOUTH AFRICA'S ADOPTION AUTHORITY

Department of Social Development

THE PROCESS

Because South Africa is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from South Africa must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. South Africa implemented the Children's Act on April 1, 2010, which formalizes laws and procedures regarding intercountry adoption under the Hague Convention.

Note: If you completed a full and final adoption or filed your I-600a or I-600 with USCIS before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Visit our Hague Transition Cases page for more information.

  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
  3. Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
  5. Adopt the Child in South Africa
  6. Bring your Child Home
  1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider: 
    The first step in adopting a child from South Africa is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been Hague-accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and South Africa. South Africa requires that adoption service providers based in the United States also have formal working agreements with accredited counterparts in South Africa. Please contact the U.S. Consulate Johannesburg's Immigrant Visa Unit for the most updated information on which adoption service providers are accredited to provide service in South Africa. Visit our Working with an Adoption Service Provider page for more information.

  2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:

    After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) National Benefits Center (NBC). Learn more by visiting our Who Can Adopt page.

    The accredited organization is tasked with identifying a child who is eligible for adoption. After a home study has been completed by an accredited organization, the case is referred to a children’s court for a final hearing.

    Once the U.S. government determines that you are “eligible” and “suitable” to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in South Africa. South Africa’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under South Africa’s law. 

  3. Be Matched with a Child:

    If both the United States and South Africa determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in South Africa may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.  

    An order of adoption terminates all the rights and obligations existing between the child and any prior legally-recognized parents. The adopted child is thereafter deemed by law to be the legitimate child of the adoptive parent(s). The order of adoption confers the surname of the adoptive parent on the adopted child.

  4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:

    After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the prospective adoptive child qualifies as a Hague adoptee and would be eligible under U.S. law to enter the United States after being adopted abroad. Visit our Who can be Adopted page for more information.

    After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg. The Consular Officer will review the child’s information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities.  If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the South Africa’s adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.

    Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.

  5. Adopt the Child in South Africa:

    Remember: Before you adopt a child in South Africa, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in South Africa. 

    The process for finalizing the adoption in South Africa generally includes the following:

    • ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The approval of the Commissioner of Child Welfare, a designated officer of the South African Department of Justice, is required in order for an adoption order to be issued. The Commissioner of Child Welfare will consider the parent(s)’ suitability for adoption and the best interests of the child with the input of a social worker accredited by the Department of Social Development. The Department of Social Development is the central authority for all adoptions.
    • ROLE OF THE COURT: After a home study has been completed by an accredited organization, the case is referred to a children's court for the final hearing. An order of adoption terminates all the rights and obligations existing between the child and any prior legally-recognized parents. The order of adoption confers the surname of the adoptive parent on the adopted child.
    • ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: The adoption procedure is initiated by contacting an accredited welfare organization which will identify a child who is eligible for adoption.
    • TIME FRAME: It can take up to two years to complete South African adoption requirements.
    • ADOPTION APPLICATION: Application of adoption is initiated through an accredited adoption services provider.
    • ADOPTION FEES: The U.S. Consulate General discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted. “Donations,” or “expediting” fees, which may be requested from prospective adoptive parents, have the appearance of “buying” a baby and put all future adoptions in South Africa at risk. In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.  
    • DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: Due to the South African order of precedence (preferring relatives, then South African citizens, and then foreigners) for adopting orphans, the document requirements can vary from case to case. As a starting point, contact the Commissioner of Child Welfare and the South African Department of Social Development (contact information below).

      NOTE: If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Find more information on our Traveler's Checklist page.

  6. Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
    • Birth Certificate 
      You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.

      First, the adoption must be recorded in the child’s birth register at any district office of the Department of Home Affairs (www.dha.gov.za). Submit a written request, accompanied by a certified copy of the adoption order. If the adoption order authorizes the change of the child’s surname to that of the adoptive parent(s), this will be completed at the same time on form BI-193. The fee to record an adoption is R70.00 (South African Rand).

      Submit a completed BI-154 application form in person to any district office of the Department of Home Affairs. You must request the unabridged or long-form version of the birth certificate, which will list the names, birthdates and birthplaces of both parents along with those of the child. The fee for the unabridged birth certificate is R70.00 and processing can take several weeks.

    • South African Passport

      Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need to obtain a South African passport. 

      Submit a completed DHA-73 application form in person to any district office of the Department of Home Affairs, accompanied by the unabridged birth certificate. The parents must satisfy the passport officer of the child’s identity and their parental relationship to the child. The child’s photographs will be checked to ensure that they are a true image of the applicant. If the child is over 16, his or her fingerprints will be taken for checking against the Population Register. The South African child passport (applicants under 16) is valid for 5 years and the fee is R145.00. The regular passport (applicants over 16) is valid for 10 years and the fee is R190.00 for a 32-page book. Processing time for all passports is approximately six weeks.

    • U.S. Immigrant Visa 
      After the adoption is granted and you have obtained the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an immigrant visa from the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg for your child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the “Panel Physician’s” medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.

      On March 3, 2008, the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa’s panel physicians began using the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2007 Tuberculosis Technical Instructions (TB TIs) for the TB medical screening for all immigrant visa applicants from South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, and Swaziland, including adopted children. The 2007 TB TIs include new requirements that affect the pace at which some adoption cases can be concluded. Please visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dq/panel_2007.htm for further information regarding the 2007 Technical Instructions for Tuberculosis Screening and Treatment for Panel Physicians.

      The following additional documents are required for children who are fully adopted under South African law:

      • The child’s original, unabridged birth certificate, showing the new adoptive parents’ names;
      • Evidence that the child meets the definition of Convention Adoptee;
      • A final decree of adoption reflecting that both spouses (prospective adoptive parents) were parties to the adoption;
      • Evidence of compliance with all relevant South African regulations
      • A passport issued in the child’s correct, current name; and
      • The child’s medical examination completed by one of the Consulate’s approved panel physicians.

      Note: If all required documents are in order and the child is qualified for the visa, it generally takes between 2-3 days to issue the visa.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to issue the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview due to security procedures.

CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT

For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire U.S. citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States on an IH-3 immigrant visa. You may then apply for your child’s U.S. passport by following the instructions at http://travel.state.gov(see “Traveling Abroad” below for more information).

For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows children who entered the U.S. on an IH-4 immigrant visa to acquire U.S. citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. state court as quickly as possible.

*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible.  Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. 

Visit our page on Acquiring U.S. Citizenship for your Child to learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.

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Traveling Abroad

APPLYING FOR YOUR U.S. PASSPORT

U.S. citizens are required to use a valid U.S. passport to enter or depart the United States. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.

Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.

OBTAINING YOUR VISA

In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.

To find information about obtaining a visa for South Africa, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.

STAYING SAFE ON YOUR TRIP

Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.

The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability. 

STAYING IN TOUCH ON YOUR TRIP

When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in South Africa, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.

Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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After Adoption

What does South Africa require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?

South Africa has no post-adoption requirements.

What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?

Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it’s another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 

Here are some good places to start your support group search:

Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.

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Contact Information

U.S. Consulate in South Africa
U.S. Consulate General
1 Sandton Drive
Sandhurst 2196
Johannesburg
Tel: 27-11-290-3000
Fax: 27-11-884-0396

The Consulate in Johannesburg handles all consular matters, including immigrant visas, for Pretoria. The United States also has Consulates General in Cape Town and Durban; however these offices do not process immigrant visas.

South Africa’s Adoption Authority
Department of Social Development
Registrar of Adoptions
Private Bag X901
Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Tel: 27-12-312-7592
Fax: 27-12-312-7837

Commissioner of Child Welfare
Private Bag X61
Pretoria 0001, South Africa
Tel: 27-12-328-4026
Fax:  27-12-321-8124

Embassy of South Africa
Embassy of the Republic of South Africa
3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington , DC 20008
Tel: 202-232-4400
* South Africa also has Consulates in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor  
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
E-mail:  AskCI@state.gov
Internet: http://adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)

Reciprocity Schedule

Select a visa category below to find the visa issuance fee, number of entries, and validity period for visas issued to applicants from this country*/area of authority.

Explanation of Terms

Visa Classification: The type of nonimmigrant visa you are applying for.

Fee: The reciprocity fee, also known as the visa issuance fee, you must pay. This fee is in addition to the nonimmigrant visa application fee (MRV fee).

Number of Entries: The number of times you may seek entry into the United States with that visa. "M" means multiple times. If there is a number, such as "One", you may apply for entry one time with that visa.

Validity Period: This generally means the visa is valid, or can be used, from the date it is issued until the date it expires, for travel with that visa. If your Validity Period is 60 months, your visa will be valid for 60 months from the date it is issued.

Visa Classifications
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 36 Months
A-2 None Multiple 36 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 36 Months
F-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-1 None Multiple 36 Months
G-2 None Multiple 36 Months
G-3 None Multiple 36 Months
G-4 None Multiple 36 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-2R $85.00 Multiple 36 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
I None Multiple 36 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 36 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 36 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 36 Months
L-2 None Multiple 36 Months
M-1 None Multiple 12 Months
M-2 None Multiple 12 Months
N-8 None Multiple 12 Months
N-9 None Multiple 12 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 36 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 36 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 36 Months
R-2 None Multiple 36 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 60 Months
V-2 None Multiple 60 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 60 Months 8
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Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

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Visa Category Footnotes
  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

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General Documents

All citizens and permanent residents of South Africa are required to hold an identity document. Applications for civil documents can be expedited if the applicant's ID Number is provided.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available. Applicants should submit their requests directly to the Department of Home Affairs, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001, and should request a "long-form" birth certificate, which lists the details on the parents. Applicants should also provide their full name given at birth, their date and place of birth, and both parents' names, including the mother's maiden name. The request should specify that an English language copy is desired. In cases of illegitimacy or adoption, the long-form birth certificate will not be sent directly to the applicant (for reasons of confidentiality), but will be sent to the appropriate consular post. In cases where a search reveals that the applicant's birth was never registered, a form letter to this effect will be issued.

Death Certificates

Available. (Stertesertifikaat). Applicants should apply to the Department of Home Affairs, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001. All applicants must furnish the full name and date of birth of the deceased and the date and place of death.

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates

Available. Only unabridged ("long-form") marriage certificates are acceptable. There are three different laws under which a marriage may be formed in South Africa: (1) the Marriage Act, 1961, which allows for the solemnization of a civil or religious marriage between a man and a woman; (2) the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998, which allows for the registration of marriages under African customary law; and (3) the Civil Union Act, 2006, which allows for the solemnization of a civil or religious marriage or a civil partnership between two people regardless of gender, thus making same-sex marriage legal in South Africa. The legal consequences of a marriage under the Civil Union Act are the same as those of a marriage under the Marriage Act. A person may only be married under one of these laws at a time, except that a couple in a monogamous customary marriage may contract a marriage with each other under the Marriage Act.

In order to obtain a long-form marriage certificate, applicants should apply to the Department of Home Affairs www.dha.gov.za, Private Bag X114, Pretoria 0001, and should furnish the full names of parties as well as the date and place of marriage, i.e., the name of the magisterial district where the church or registry office was located. The request should specify that a long-form marriage certificate (listing the prior marital status of both parties) is desired in the English language. Should the marriage certificate be issued in a language other than English, the applicant must also submit an English translation.

Divorce Certificates

Available. Application should be made to the registrar of the High Court or at Regional divisions of the Magistrate's Courts. 

Adoption Certificates

Please check back for update

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Identity Card

Please check back for update

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Records

Available. Criminal records since 1901 covering the entire Republic are maintained at the South African Police Headquarters, Pretoria. The period The Commissioner of the South African Police issues certificates upon application, stating whether or not a criminal record exists, and, if so, particulars of the offense as well as any sentence passed.

The police authorities require an applicant to present verification of identity, such as a Book of Life, or valid passport, and a payment of R59.00 (South African rand fifty nine payable in cash, cheque or postal order, made payable to the South African police).

To obtain a certificate that is issued in single copy only, fingerprints must be taken by the local police in the applicant's place of residence. The South African police forwards the completed fingerprint chart and the fee to the head office in Pretoria for issuance of the police clearance certificate. If the applicant is residing in the United States, he or she should forward a bank draft in the aount of R59.00 together with a completed fingerprint chart (bearing an official signature and stamp of the local police station) to:

South African Police Service
Criminal Record Centre
Private Bang X308
Pretoria 0001, South Africa

Alternatively, he/she should authorize a friend/relative in South Africa to submit the application on behalf of the applicant.

Court Records

Available. Requests should be addressed to the magistrate's court in the magisterial district where the trial took place. The full name of the applicant and the date of the trial are required.

Prison Records

Please check back for update.

Military Records

Military Records

Available. Non-officers who served during World War II received discharge certificates on Discharge Form D.D.342, size 6-1/4 x 8-3/4", inscribed in English on both sides, and which includes a description of the final discharge signed by the appropriate military official. Officers received release certificates on Release Form D.D.201, titled Release Certificate (Officer), size 8" x 6-1/2", inscribed in English on one side, Afrikaans on the other, bearing the dispersal office date stamp in the lower left-hand corner, and signed by the O.C., Dispersal Depot. Application must be made to the Chief of Staff, Personnel (War Records), P/B X281, Pretoria 0001. Full name, date of birth, and S.A. identity number and military number should be furnished. Persons who have served in the armed forces since World War II should write to the regiment to which they were attached, furnishing full name, date of birth and military number.

Passports & Other Travel Documents

Please check back for update

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

Johannesburg, South Africa (Consulate General) -- All visa categories (including all Follow-to-Join Refugees and Asylees)

Cape Town, South Africa (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant visas only

Durban, South Africa (Consulate General) -- Nonimmigrant visas only

Visa Services

All immigrant visas are provided through Johannesburg. Nonimmigrant visas are provided as indicated in the table below:

Location Areas Serviced

Johannesburg

  • Gauteng Province
  • Free State
  • Mpumalanga Province
  • Northern Province
  • Northwestern Province

Cape Town

  • Eastern Cape Province
  • Northern Cape Province
  • Western Cape Province
  • St. Helena and Dependencies

Durban

  • Kwazulu-Natal Province

 

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information

Washington, DC (202) 274-7992 (202) 244-9417

Chicago, IL (312) 939-7929 (312) 939-2588

Los Angeles, CA (323) 651-0902 (323) 651-5969

New York, NY (212) 213-4880 (212) 213-0102

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite
Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
Telephone
+(27)(11) 290-3000 (from South Africa 011-290-3000)
Emergency
+(27) 702-7300 / 021-702-7411(from within South Africa)
Fax
+(27)(21) 702-7493 / 021-702-7493 (from within South Africa)
South Africa Country Map

Learn about your destination
Additional Information for Reciprocity

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.