Extending Your South African Tourist Visa: EVERYTHING You Need to Know

Last Updated on April 4, 2024 by thecapetownblog

When you come to South Africa, you usually get a 90 day visa on arrival, but sometimes 3 months just isn’t enough.

Cape Town is an amazing city and there are lots of reasons to stay. However, I won’t lie to you: extending my South African tourist visa has caused me headache after headache since I’ve lived in the country.

But since having to go through the process time does mean that I now know it inside out, I can guide you through the same steps. There’s quite a lot that the official website doesn’t tell you which makes the process extra stressful.

While I was figuring the process out, I found blogs to be way more helpful than any government resource, so I wanted to throw my voice into the mix and give you as much information as possible about how to stay in Cape Town for an extra 90 days.

I’m obsessed with this place and I’m pretty sure that no-one wants to stay here more than me. I even got a “South Africa” tattoo after my first visa extension was approved!

I’m going to start with all of the basic info, and then dive into detail about the rather long-winded process of actually applying. Good luck!

Hannah at Kloof Corner with her hands up
How I feel every time my visa extension gets approved

How long can you extend a South African tourist visa for?

You can extend your tourist visa for three months at a time. Since you get 90 days to begin with, this equates to a total stay of 180 days if all goes well. Sadly, you can only extend a tourist visa once.

Is there a deadline to apply for the extension?

Yes. You have to apply for your tourist visa extension within your first 30 days in South Africa. Well, technically it’s 60 days before your visa expires, but it’s the same thing since your initial visitor’s visa should be valid for 90 days.

I recommend booking your appointment as soon as possible after you enter the country to make sure dates are available. This is especially true between October and March, which are the summer months! 

It’s fine to make your appointment for your 29th day in the country, but just book it ASAP.

How do you apply for a South Africa visa extension?

You make an account with the Visa Facilitation Service online, pay for an appointment, turn up on the day and submit your documents in person, and then wait for an indeterminate amount of time for the outcome (which you also have to collect in person). 

I’ll go over the process step by step below and explain it thoroughly, but that’s the long and short of it.

Clifton sunset
Doesn’t this sunset make you wanna stick around?

How long do I have to wait to know whether or not my application was approved?

The official party line is that you’ll need to wait 8-10 weeks. In my experience, it can be anywhere between 1 and 3 months. It tends to take much longer to receive an outcome in the summer than the winter because there are so many more tourists in South Africa at that time. 

The problem with a long wait is that your initial visa may run out before your extension is approved. This has happened to me twice.

Ok, so what do I do if my visa expires before I receive an outcome?

You have two choices here. 

Option A: Leave the country

But that’s no fun! Still, depending on your travel schedule, an abrupt departure might be your best bet.

Option B: Overstay

You can overstay your visa while you wait for the outcome. Legally, you are allowed to do this, and I have done so twice. However, you can’t leave the country until you receive an outcome either way, so bear this in mind. Being trapped in South Africa forever is pretty much my dream, but it may not be yours. 

As long as you follow every step I’ve outlined in this blog, you should get a yes. But it’s never guaranteed and VFS is rather prone to messing up, so it is a risk.

What can I say? The system sucks.

Cape Town views from Lion's Head
Views worth staying for

What if I overstay and my visa is denied?

The problem with option A is that if you overstay and the answer is no, you could find yourself in a difficult position. Officially, you get 10 days to leave if the answer is no, but in reality, you might be banned on your way out of the country. Basically, different government departments don’t appear to talk to one another all that often, and so the de facto rules get a bit blurry sometimes. 

However, I’ve always found the agents at border control to be really friendly. One even commended me for following the proper process and extending my visa rather than overstaying. So if you do find yourself in the situation where you’ve overstayed and then your application is denied, I’d say your best bet is to turn up at the airport with all of the documents from the process and be extra nice to the border agent.

If my extension is approved, am I guaranteed to get 3 months?

Nope. In my experience, VFS grants you 90 extra days from the date your application is processed, rather than the date your original visa expires. 

Twice, this has led to me getting extra weeks in South Africa. Once, it meant I had to leave two months earlier than planned. 

Again, the system sucks.

Can you extend your South African tourist visa more than once?

No. You can only extend your visa once. After your 180 days are up, you will have to leave the country. 

Can I do a visa run?

Technically, yes you can, but there are a few caveats. 

Travel within Africa is pretty expensive, so a visa run will probably cost you way more than a visa extension. Of course, if you want to stay for longer than 180 days, you will need to leave the country and renter. 

If you have a passport that grants you a 90 day tourist visa on arrival, then there’s no need to return home, but if this isn’t the case then you may need to apply for another visa from your home country.

You can’t really do visa runs overland, so you will need to fly in and out of the country. Land border agents don’t like it when you’re clearly doing a visa run, but they don’t seem to care when you fly into an international airport. 

I’ve also heard that visa runs only work when you visit a neighbouring country, but I have friends who have successfully done this. They went to Mozambique for a holiday, but they stayed for a few weeks and, crucially, they flew in and out of South Africa. It may have been a different story had they gone overland. 

Personally, I did a visa run to Zanzibar after my first six months in South Africa were up. I only went for a week, I had a blast, and I had no problems on the way back into the country. After that, I left for longer periods and went to entirely different continents, so I knew that there wouldn’t be a problem. 

Going to Zanzibar wasn’t so bad!

If you do a visa run, make sure that your previous tourist visa has expired before you try to reenter the country. Otherwise, they’ll just let you back in on the same visa as before and you won’t get any extra time.

It’s a tough life…

The step-by-step process to extend your South African tourist visa?

Step 1: Go to the VFS application page and fill out the form

When you Google “South African visa extension” a bunch of different government pages come up, but this is the one you need to create an account and get the ball rolling.

A good tip is also to use Microsoft Edge browser. Yup, really. 

I mean, we all know that Microsoft Edge is just a rebranded Internet Explorer, just shows this website hasn’t been updated in a good few decades.

This part can be a bit confusing, so here are the right option to select:

  • Application type: Temporary Residence Visa
  • Application sub-type: TRV – Renewal Visa
  • Application sub-type category: Visitors Visa Section 11(1)

You can ignore the corporate visa number, as that doesn’t apply for this type of visa. 

Screenshot displaying correct answers which are: Application type: Temporary Residence Visa

Application sub-type: TRV - Renewal Visa

Application sub-type category: Visitors Visa Section 11(1)

Step 2: Create an account

You’ll need to create an account to get started. You’ll need to confirm your email and create a password. Annoyingly, these accounts expire so you need to make a new one every time you do this. But at least it only takes five seconds.

Step 3: Fill out the “Particulars of Applicant” page

This is super easy. It’s just your name, date of birth, marital status – the usual! 

Screenshot of VFS applicant personal details page for an example

Step 4: Complete Citizenship Details

I’m including this as a step because it says “If acquired other than by birth, date and conditions under which acquired” but then requires you to put something. Just put N/A or “birth” – it won’t affect your application.

Fill out the passport, citizen, and other pages

The first time I filled in this page I did get a bit confused about the “Visa No.” section, but you just need to find your entry stamp in your passport and find the number underneath.

The new “maintenance” section is also super confusing. I’m really not sure what the expiry and “lodged at” sections are about, I just know that VFS love to make things more complicated.

The good news is that it doesn’t actually matter that much, because they only really look at your particulars at the appointment and you’ll have to submit financial information on the day.

All of the info below is just for example!

Screenshot of VFS maintenance and deportation details page for an example

There are also lots of sections that only apply if you choose a certain answer, but still require you to put something. Just put “n/a”.

Basically, just work your way through these incredibly tedious forms until there are no more.

Step 5: Review and submit

After you’ve entered all of the important information, you’ll be taken to an overview page where you can check all of the information before you submit. It’s important to double check this as your application could be rejected if you’ve gotten your personal details wrong. Don’t worry too much about the nonsensical ones.

If you do click submit and then realise you’ve made a mistake afterwards, fear not. Just log out, log back in again, and at the homepage select the option to create a new application rather than to continue with an existing one. 

Step 6: Add any additional applicants by repeating steps 3-5

I’m forever alone and have never applied for an extension with a partner or companion. However, if you are, you can create two (or more) applications with the same account, and then pay for and attend the appointments at the same time.

Step 6) Pay for your appointment

Next up, you have to pay R1,975 for your visa appointment. You can’t make an appointment until you’ve done this. 

The R1,975 is made up of two charges. I’m not exactly sure what they’re for, but you can choose to pay R1,550 online and additional R425 at the appointment if you prefer, but to be honest I think it’s just easier to pay them together now.

After you pay for your appointment, you’ll get an email receipt which you will need to print and take on the day as proof of payment.

Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that you have to pay before you even know if they’ve got an appointment available for you (although to be fair, they usually do). However, those are the rules. If you’ve made it this far in the article, you already know what I think about this system.

Step 7) Schedule your appointment

Now, you’ll be taken back to the main screen and where you can select the option to book an appointment. You’ll be taken to a calendar page that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1990s (quite possibly because it hasn’t) where you can choose your location and see which appointments are available. 

I’ve found this page to be very glitchy. It can take a while to load so be patient. Often, it will say that there’s no availability at first, but don’t get frustrated (easier said than done, I know). Sometimes, the calendar will update itself a minute or so later to reveal that there actually are appointments after all. 

Sometimes, the calendar just won’t work and you’ll need to come back later. This is annoying but don’t worry, your progress won’t be lost. You won’t have to enter your details or pay again, and you can just go straight back to trying to schedule an appointment. 

When choosing an appointment, make sure it’s at least 60 days before your appointment expires, and try to choose one that’s early in the day. Backlogs pile up throughout the day so the later you go, the longer you’re likely to wait. 

And one more thing: if you need to reschedule your appointment, you can, but you have to do it at least 48 hours beforehand and you can only reschedule twice.

Step 8) Download your appointment letter

You’ll need to take a printed copy of your appointment letter with you to VFS, so make sure to download and save this now. It’s one of a small mountain of documents that you’re going to need. 

Step 9) Download your application form and checklist

These documents download together as part of a zip file. As I’ve mentioned before, the checklist does not actually mention every single document you’re going to need, because that would just make things too easy for you. But don’t worry, I’ll provide you with a de facto checklist below.

Step 10) Compile all of the documents you need

Okay, here’s the real checklist of documents you’re going to need for your VFS appointment. 

  • Your appointment letter
  • Your completed application form 
  • Proof of payment for your appointment (VFS will email this to you)
  • 3 months of bank statements (You should be able to prove you have at least €5000 in savings. If you don’t, you can also provide wage slips, credit card limits, invoices, or pledges of support from South African hosts) 
  • A brief letter outlining why you want to stay in the country
  • An onward flight ticket. I always use onewayfly.com to provide “proof” of this.
  • A photocopy of the personal details page of your passport. It can be black and white.
  • A photocopy of the passport stamp you received when you came into South Africa.
  • Proof of accommodation. This can be a sublease agreement or a copy of a friend’s lease. Last time I extended, I took a friend’s lease and the clerk told me that I should have included a letter from her, a copy of her ID, and an affidavit. Obviously it was too late at that point so I went ahead and submitted anyway, and my application was successful. 

Step 11) Print all of these documents

As a digital nomad, you probably don’t own a printer, but there are a ton of print shops around Cape Town. Here are two that I’ve found to be really good:

  • Jetline Green Point – Shop 2, Sovereign Quay, 40 Somerset Road, Greenpoint 
  • City Print – St. John’s Road, Sea Point (right around the corner from St. John’s Piazza)

And if you leave things until the last minute, there’s also a PostNet right next to the VFS building where you can print. However, I prefer not to go here because the staff will shout at you for using your phone in the queue (don’t ask me why). 

If you do forget to print any documents, the staff will usually let you leave to go to PostNet during your appointment. However, this does mean that you’ll end up waiting even longer than usual. Forgetting to print out my proof of payment for my appointment tacked an extra hour on to the whole experience.

Step 12) Attend your appointment

If you’re applying for a visa extension in Cape Town, you can head to 2 Long Street to submit your documents. This is between a Vida e Cafe and a Clicks. 

Bring a book and a lot of patience. If you get told “no” for some reason, politely but firmly question it.

I’ve turned up and been told by a security guard that there were no appointments that day. Some people actually left, but I asked if I could just go and talk to the people at the desk on the ground floor… who smiled and told me to head on up to the 7th floor. 

You’re not allowed to take coffee or any kind of hot drink into your appointment with you, nor are you allowed to wear headphones or receive phone calls.

Usually, your appointment will take between 1 – 2 hours. There are three main steps.

First, an agent checks that all of your documents are present and accounted for. This is when you’ll be sent to PostNet if anything is missing and probably be shuffled to the back of the line. 

Then, once agent numero uno decides everything is in order, you’ll officially submit your documents to agent number two. If you didn’t pay the extra R425 fee when you paid for your appointment, this is also when you will do that. You’ll also get a receipt that you need to keep, but more on that below.

Finally, you’ll queue up one more time for biometrics, and then you’re free to go. I highly recommend heading to a bar for a stiff drink after this frustrating ordeal. 

Step 13) Keep your receipt

After you submit your documents but before you enter your biometrics (the final stage of your appointment), you will be given a signed receipt. KEEP HOLD OF THIS.

I learned this the hard way. 

I didn’t know I had to keep my receipt and I lost it when I moved apartments. Consequently, I had to go to the police station and get an affidavit to promise that it was, in fact, me who had submitted the application. 

Never mind that it was my passport, my bank account, and my biometric details. Oh no, that receipt is really important. 

Hang onto it. 

To be fair, getting an affidavit from the police station was pretty quick and easy, and it was free, but it’s just easier to keep hold of your receipt and skip this unnecessary step. 

Step 14) Wait for your outcome

If you apply for a visa extension during the summer, you might end up waiting more than 3 months for your application and end up overstaying your visa, which I’ve discussed above. The good news is that if, for whatever reason, your presence in South Africa falls into question during that time, your extension application receipt functions as a sort of temporary visa. 

Usually, VFS will email you to say that your outcome has been decided. They won’t put you out of your misery and tell you what it is in the email, because that would take all of the fun out of nervously waiting in line one more time! 

You can also track your application online, which is a good idea because although VFS say they’ll email you, that’s not always true. The first time I applied, I never got any email alerts, but luckily I kept checking on the website. You just need your surname and your tracking number, which will be in your appointment confirmation email and start with TRR. 

Step 15) Collect the verdict

At long last, the time has come for you to go back to those beautiful VFS offices and collect your verdict. 

You used to have to schedule another appointment to do this, but now you can simply turn up between 10 am and 3 pm. Again, I strongly recommend going as early as possible to avoid a long wait. 

Make sure to bring your receipt and your passport. You’ll head to the 7th floor once more, receive a number, and then wait until you’re called. The agent will inform you whether or not your extension has been approved, and if it has you’ll lose an entire passport page to the unnecessarily large visa sticker. But hey, at least you’ll be able to stay in the best city in the world for a while longer. 

(I hate VFS, but I REALLY love Cape Town). 

What should I do if my South African tourist visa extension application is denied?

If you follow all of the steps I outlined above, you really should be fine.

But if VFS does deny your tourist visa extension, then you can either leave the country within the time you have left. If you have already overstayed your initial visa while waiting for the outcome, you can leave within 10 days, bring a ton of proof that you did everything legally to the airport, and hope for the best. 

Or you can appeal the decision, which takes 2-3 months. You can’t leave the country when your appeal is underway, though. 

You can appeal in person at VFS via walk-in within 14 days of receiving your outcome. You will need an appeal letter and you’ll have to pay for another visa, which is grossly unfair, but that’s VFS for ya. 

If your extension is denied, you should get a refusal form that explain why. There will be an accompanying list of documents you will need to bring to appeal the decision, but heaven knows if once again there are more secret documents on there that VFS don’t tell you you need (they’re fun like that). 

UGH! What a nightmare. But I promise, Cape Town is worth it. If you don’t believe me, check out these blogs…

41 thoughts on “Extending Your South African Tourist Visa: EVERYTHING You Need to Know”

  1. Hello,

    I have tried to extent my visa almost 2 months ago but other than an email about the inscan in Pretoria, I have so far not heard back from VFS. My visa will expire in 13 days and I am a bit worried now as I dont want under any circumstances face an entry ban. I was thinking about flying to see the Vic Falls and then re-entering via flight. How you described it, it should be possible to get a new 90 days visa then, right? As the Vic Falls airport is on the Zimbabwe side, I was thinking about going to Zambia and re-entering SA from there for a higher chance. Do you know anyone who has done this? And as you said that you have friends who entered via flight again, was this recently?

    Thank you so much! I am really feeling a bit helpless here…

    1. Hi Annika!

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation – I’ve been there myself. I took the risk and overstayed, and fortunately my visa was approved. However, you will be able to get a new visa if you fly back into the country, as long as your original visa has expired by then!

      I did a visa run to Zanzibar and everything was fine. My friends also flew in from Mozambique and didn’t have any issues – it seems to be land crossings that they get suspicious of.

      Best of luck!

      1. Hi,

        I am in a similar situation to Annika. I have decided to leave before my original visa expires and to fly back in 3 weeks later. What do I do if I hear back from VFS in that time that they have a decision? Is my new re entry visa the most valid?



  2. Hi! Thanks for the BEST summary of the visa extension process!

    One thing that I noticed was that you’ve extended the initial 90 day visa to 180 days multiple times? I interpreted the embassy website as it’s a “once in a lifetime” thing.

    So one could actually do this:

    1. Arrive on 90 day visa.
    2. Extend, be approved etc., for 180 days.
    3. Leave the country for some time, maybe to another African nation.
    4. Arrive back on new 90 day visa.
    5. Repeat step 2?

    Isn’t there a catch here? Or why aren’t everybody doing this? 😄

    1. Wow, thank you so much, I’m really glad it has proved helpful to you. And yep, I’ve done it several times!

      I think the reason people don’t do it more often is because travel in Africa is pretty expensive, and the process isn’t always super reliable. Once, I only got an extra month, which stuffed up my plans. So as long as you leave at the end of your extension, you can come back and repeat the process again.

      Good luck and enjoy beautiful Cape Town!

      1. Hi! Thank you for this wonderful blog. We love South Africa and Cape Town as much as you do and have been there several times on tourist/study visa’s. We are now planning a 6 month workation with the family and plan to extend a tourist visa as South Africa doesn’t have a digital nomad visa (yet). Is the extention always 90 days from the time it was processed or can you actually get lucky and get a full 180 days? There are advises online that recommend applying later than the mandatory 60 days before expiry of your initial visa. What is your experience? We actually want to utilise the full 180 days but don’t want to annoy any officials or worse, getting a ban for overstaying.

        1. Hi Wesley,

          Thanks so much for your kind words!

          I’ve had mixed experiences. I’ve always applied within the first 30 days as I was afraid that it wouldn’t be approved otherwise. Mostly, I have gotten the full 3-month extension but once it was from the date of approval. That happened in the winter, when processing times are much faster as there are fewer tourists here.

          Processing takes a long time during the summer, so I don’t think you’d need to worry between October and March. However, during the winter, I can’t be so sure. In that case, it might be worth trying to apply later.

          Best of luck, and please let me know how you get on! I really hope you get the full 180 days.

        2. Hi Wesley,

          I wanted to let you know that the Department of Home Affairs has stopped granting visa extensions for the time being.

          While I believe that officially speaking, you can apply for a visa renewal, the DHA is overwhelmed and unable to grant them in a timely manner. As a result, tourists still awaiting an outcome have been asked to leave by 23rd February. I will link the full news article below.

          Best of luck,



      2. Hi Appreciate your advise. We would like to stay on as my husband has broken his ankle and prefer to convalesce here in CPT but we only have a week left on our visa so far to late to apply for an extension. We are thinking of going to Zambia for 4 days. Any travel is not ideal but this is probably our best option. Is it a fact that we need to visit a non border country? Is there any written information as to how long you need to leave for? We will leave 2 days before it expires and return 2 days after the expiry date. Any thoughts Sarah

        1. Hi Sarah,

          My advice would be to extend your stay in Zambia if possible and come back after your original visa expires. It’s a bit of a risk otherwise. A border country should be fine, as long as you fly, so Mozambique or Namibia may work. Of course, I’m not a visa expert, and I can only share my own experience, but that’s what I’d do.

          Very best of luck! I wish your husband a speedy recovery 🙂

          1. Interested to know as well, currently my partner plans to leave when her 90days are done and fly to her home for a couple of weeks then return to south africa.

      3. Candice Briggs

        Hi there. My Fiance did this last year. We flew to Nambia which we thought would reset his visa but it did not. In January he flew back to the USA before his 90 days, assuming it had been reset, only to go through customs and told he had overstayed his visa, it was not reset, banned from SA for 5 years as an undesirable. Needless to say it has cost us thousands of Rands to go legal and get the ban overturned.

        1. Hi Candice,

          I’m so sorry this happened to you! The visa expiry date is on the arrival stamp, did he miss that?

          They don’t usually give you a new visa if you come back before the old one expires, is that what happened here?

          Thanks for sharing – I always find it helpful to hear about others’ experiences to inform my own decisions, since the official guidance is so lacking, and I’m sure others do, too.

    2. Hi Johan,

      The Department of Home Affairs has stopped granting visa extensions for the time being.

      While I think that you can technically still apply for a visa renewal, the DHA is overwhelmed and unable to process them in time. Right now, tourists still waiting for approval have been asked to leave by 23rd February. I will link the full news article below. I’m not sure I would risk applying for an extension right now.

      See this article for more: https://www.zawya.com/en/world/africa/sa-tourism-industry-outraged-by-sudden-visa-renewal-changes-muzj6nyl

      Best of luck,


  3. Hi Hannah!

    So I applied to extend my visa with VFS but of course they are taking forever to get back. My original 90 day visa expires on April 2nd. Which would you say is more successful, to overstay and see my result of the extension? Or to book a flight to stay somewhere like Mozambique for a few days? I was thinking on leaving April 1st and returning to Johannesburg the 4th/5th?
    Any advice on the visa run would be appreciated if that’s the best option! Thank you!!

    1. Hi Nicky!

      I would recommend emailing the VFS support and asking them if they are processing visa applications right now. If they say yes, and you’ve submitted everything correctly, then you should be okay to wait. https://visa.vfsglobal.com/gbr/en/zaf/contact-us

      If you don’t hear anything back then it’s really hard to know right now. However, if you can afford it, I would recommend leaving the country and re-entering. I have a friend who was successful with a Mozambique visa run a while back.

      So sorry to hear you’re in this situation, best of luck and let me know how you get on!

  4. Hello! Thank you so much for this helpful article. I’ve been searching for a clear answer and experience from someone with extending visas for SA. I am South African but my partner is from Canada. And I was trying to find out if he can enter South Africa multiple times over a year period. So he will come with me to SA in November for 90 days. And then we will leave South Africa for a few months and then come back into South Africa again for 90 days. They will allow him back into the country no problem because his initial visa would have expired right? I’ve been traveling in South America where you have to wait a whole year before you can re-enter a country again after you’ve already stayed 90 days there within a calendar year.

    Thank you so much

  5. Hi Ms CapeTownBlog

    After being in the country since 2019 and numerous renewals and still waiting for an outcome for a permanent residence application for over 6 years I now am in the predicament of waiting an outcome for another temporary renewal
    I really don’t want to keep travelling back to the UK every 90days just to stay legal in the country. I don’t want to be ‘trapped’ either!
    This idea of travelling to a relatively close neighboring country seems to be working to gain another 90 days did you get any proffesional advise on doing visa runs this way?
    Do you think it would be even safer to maybe go to non SDAC country?
    I have a wife, child, business and home hear, so only want to spend a couple of days out of SA , even a few hours would be better.

    1. Hi Marcus,

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation, I know how worrying it is. I went to Zanzibar for a visa run and was fine, and my American friend did Mozambique. I think it would be risky to go for less than a few days.

      When did you apply for your temporary renewal?

      I’ve never had any official advice on visa runs, I’ve just figured it out as I went along. Absolutely everything I know is in the blog, I really wish I had more answers!

      Best wishes,


  6. Great and helpful blog post. However it is not true that you have to apply 30 or 60 days after arrival. The first time I tried to adhere to this rule (I know it is technically a rule), the vfs agent sent me away saying I should apply later in order to avoid what also happened to you – that you get less than 6 months. I have literally applied on the day before my visa ran out without any issues (except that costing me a bit of nerves maybe haha), you just include a letter of apology for applying late. This tactic is especially useful if you want to stay in the country as long as possible. Also, the info that they no longer issue visa extensions is outdated / not true. I also always include a letter from a friend or landlord stating I’m staying with them & a copy of their ID & a utility bill as proof.

    1. Hi Annika!

      Thanks so much for your input, this info is actually so valuable to me. I have never dared apply after the first 30 days for fear that they would reject me, so I am really happy to know it has worked for you. I will definitely try this in the future, and I’m sure other readers in this blog will appreciate your advice, too!

      They did stop issuing visa extensions this summer as the DHA got overwhelmed, but as we move into winter, I believe things have picked up again so I’m going to take this warning down.

      Thanks so much for your input – maybe I’ll see you in the VFS office sometime!

  7. Alexander De Villiers

    Hi Hannah, your blog has really helped me. I applied on the 23rd of January, and haven’t heard back yet. I leave on the 8th of April, but I’ve decided to wait it out.

    My only worry is that I saw on another thread on https://www.theunconventionalroute.com/south-africa-tourist-visa/ that the whole “you get 10 days to leave if your visa is rejected” is a lie! And the immigration officers don’t adhere to this rule. So my worry is that if my visa is rejected, I’ll get banned for 5 years. Do you have any personal experience with leaving of the visa was rejected?

    Many thanks!

    1. Hi Alexander,

      Thanks so much, I’m glad to hear that. Yeah, I read that too and honestly it’s caused me so much anxiety! But fortunately, my visa extensions have always been accepted so I don’t have personal experience of this situation. I do talk about this in this article, so if you go to the heading “What if I overstay and my visa is denied?”, I’ve shared everything I know there. 🙂

      Best of luck with all of this!


      1. Alexander de Villiers 18868990

        Just heard back from VFS and was told my visa has been sent to “Pretoria OC”. Which I’ve read means that I should receive the visa within the next couple of days. Hopefully, it’s been approved, because so far I’ve been here for 125 days!

        I’ll update you once I’ve received the outcome! (No news, is bad news)

          1. Alexander De Villiers

            Picked it up this morning! So it took 3 months, 21 days to come through. A very stressful process.

  8. Thank you for your really helpful blog!
    My issue is that I will be applying for my visa extension in Cape Town – hopefully in the next couple of days. However, I then fly to Durban and will be staying there for the rest of my stay in South Africa. (So I will not be able to collect my application outcome in Cape Town). Is it possible to get someone else to collect it, or to collect it in Durban?

    Thanks! Lucy

    1. Hi Lucy,

      As far as I know, you have to collect it from the same place you submitted your application.

      I think you can send someone on your behalf, but the person collecting it would to bring your passport, so that wouldn’t really work as you’d need it to fly to Durban! You can check out what they say here (https://visa.vfsglobal.com/zaf/en/dha/apply-visa) but I’d maybe shoot them an email to see if there’s anything that can be done about this. Sometimes, it feels like there are secret rules that they don’t share with us!

      Annika also said that she has applied after the 30-day deadline before and had no issues, so maybe you can wait and apply in Durban instead.

      Best of luck,


  9. Hi Hannah,

    Thanks for the advice. Just came back from a successful visa run from Mozambique! Originally flew into Capetown on Jan 11 from the US and got stamped with a 90 day tourist visa. Decided to apply for the visa extension, on Feb 22 and but never received a response. I left on April 10 (a day before my visa expired, April 11) and went o Mozambique from April 10-14. Once entering CPT airport, the immigration officer asked was I here for holiday, I told her yes, and she stamped it for another 90 days. No questions asked. I never even mentioned the VFS receipt either.

    Thanks again for the advice!

    1. Hi Rai,

      That is amazing news, thank you so much for the update! I really appreciate it and I’m sure it will be really helpful for others reading this blog, too. Enjoy the next 90 days in beautiful Cape Town.

      Best wishes,


  10. Debbie Erskine

    Hi Hannah. We are trying to get a visa extension for a friend from the UK who is staying with us and would like to travel more within South Africa. His visa expires on 19 May. I gather it is going to cost R1975 to VFS. I see that there are agencies that say they can help with this process. Is it advisable to work through an agency for a more guaranteed result or can I do the application directly??

    1. Hi Debbie!

      It might make things easier to go with an agency, I’ve never done it though. I’ve always applied directly and been successful, it’s a bit of a headache though.

      Good luck,


  11. The number of times I’ve read this blog post is unreal but I applied for my visa extension about a month and a half before my visa ran out. Never heard back from them so decided to do a visa run to Zambia. Left the day before my visa ran out (April 10th) and came back on April 14th. I was super unlucky and got an agent who was not in a good mood. He only gave me 10 additional days and it did not help that I told them that I’ve been studying in Cape Town for the past three years and need to attend my graduation ceremony at the end of this month. So today I went to VFS again to apply for another visa extension, got an email an hour ago saying that my application has been accepted and forwarded to home affairs. I’m not sure what this means, but I never received an email like this on my last application and on my last one it only says that the application has been received and on this application, it says that it has been forwarded to home affairs. Praying that it actually has been accepted!

    Good luck everyone!!

  12. Hi Hannah,
    I had a 4 year Intra Company Visa that was running out in December 23 but had been to the UK in November and came back on 26th November on a new passport and got a 90 day stamp visa, up to 24th February 2024.
    After Xmas i applied for a 90 day extension with VFS on the 11th January and I still have not heard anything and now i dont know what to do as it has obviously gone past the 24th February, please can you advise

    1. Hi Nke!

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re in this situation. Unfortunately, I’m not a visa expert and can only share my own experiences on this blog. I would try to contact VFS for advice. If you’re leaving the country, print everything you can as evidence and be extra, extra nice to the person at passport control!

      Good luck!

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