Wondering whether South African citizens need a Schengen Visa to enter Europe?
The short answer is yes.
If you are from South Africa and want to visit Europe for a maximum of 90 days – for a holiday, business purposes or to visit your family, for example – then you must apply for a Schengen Visa.
We know that the thought of collecting all the required documents can be overwhelming, but we’re here to help you get organised and prepared.
In this post, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to get a Schengen Visa from South Africa, including the required documents and application process.
Plus, we’ll throw in some tips and tricks to make the process even smoother, so make sure you read it all the way to the end.
Table of contents:
- Do all South African citizens need a Schengen Visa?
- What documents do South Africans need to apply for a Schengen Visa?
- What are the steps to follow in order to apply for a Schengen Visa from South Africa?
1. Do All South African Citizens Need a Schengen Visa?
While most South African citizens need a Schengen Visa to enter Europe, there are two categories of individuals living in South Africa who are allowed to enter the Schengen Area Visa-free.
These categories include:
1. Nationals of countries who have Visa free-regimes with the EU and are currently residing in South Africa. For instance, if you are an Israeli citizen residing in South Africa you do not need a Schengen Visa for Europe because the EU currently has a Visa-free regime with Israel. The full list of countries who have established a Visa-free regime with the EU can be accessed here.
2. South African citizens who hold dual citizenship with a Schengen Member State or a country that has established a Visa-free regime with the EU (if that is applicable to you, you will have to travel using your EU or Schengen-visa-exempt-country passport).
However, it’s worth noting that starting in 2024, passport holders of countries with Visa-free regimes will need to apply for an ETIAS (European Travel Information and Authorisation System) before travelling to Europe.
But no worries about that, applying for an ETIAS Visa Waiver is relatively easy and applications are typically processed in minutes.
2. What Documents Do South Africans Need to Apply for a Schengen Visa?
To apply for a Schengen Visa from South Africa, it is extremely important to submit a set of documents that match your personal situation and travel purpose.
For instance, if you are employed, you must submit employment documents such as your employment contract, leave permission from employer, your payslips for the last 6 months, and No Objection Certificate (NOC) Letter from your employer.
Or, if you are unemployed, you must submit documents such as a sponsorship letter written and signed by your sponsor, your sponsor’s bank statements, and a copy of the ID/Passport of your sponsor.
Your travel purpose also plays a key role in determining the right documents the Embassy expects from you in order to grant you a Schengen Visa.
For example, if you are travelling for tourism, you must submit a day-to-day travel itinerary including details about your flight itinerary, hotel reservations, and travel destinations.
To help you get an idea of the documents you must submit with your Schengen Visa application, we have created a complete guide of the Schengen Visa application requirements that can be accessed here.
However, if you still have doubts about the required documents for a successful application, do not hesitate to request our Schengen Embassy Requirements Report™” (SERR).
The Schengen Embassy Requirements Report™” (SERR) is a unique report created by the Visas Association team of experts that is tailored specifically for your personal situation.
The report is designed to analyse your situation and help you navigate the application process more smoothly, significantly increasing your chances of approval.
3. What Are the Steps to Follow in Order to Apply for a Schengen Visa from South Africa?
Here are the steps to follow to apply for a Schengen Visa from South Africa:
Step 1: Find Out Where You Need to Apply
Determine the Schengen country where you will submit your application based on your itinerary and duration of stay.
Remember that you must submit your application at the Embassy or the Consulate of the country of your main destination.
The country of your main destination is considered the country where you will spend most days.
Or, if you plan on spending an equal number of days in each Schengen country you will be visiting, you must submit your application to the Embassy or Consulate of the country you will enter first.
Here are a few examples:
- If you plan on travelling solely to France, you must submit your application to:
- The CAPAGO Centres in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg (Capago International is the official company mandated by the French Government to handle Schengen Visa applications)
- If you plan on spending 10 days in France and 20 days in Italy, you must submit your application to:
- VFS Global (starting from 1st March 2021, VFS Global is the Visa outsourcing agency for the Embassy of Italy in South Africa)
- If you plan on spending 10 days in Germany and 10 days in Spain and your first entry will be in Spain, you must submit your application to:
- BLS International (the Visa outsourcing agency for the Embassy of Spain in South Africa)
Step 2: Find Out What Type of Schengen Visa You Need to Apply For
The type of Schengen Visa you need to apply for depends on your travel purpose.
For example, you can apply for a:
- Tourist Schengen Visa
- Schengen Medical Visa
- Family Member & Spouse Schengen Visa
- Airport Transit Schengen Visa
- Student Schengen Visa
- Business Schengen Visa
Step 3: Schedule Your Schengen Visa Appointment
It is crucial to schedule your Schengen Visa appointment well ahead of time, preferably before gathering all the necessary documents, as the Schengen Embassies generally have limited appointment slots, particularly those that receive a large number of requests.
We recommend you read this guide to learn how to book your Schengen Visa appointment and what are the most common mistakes to avoid when booking an appointment at the Embassy or Consulate.
Step 4: Collect the Required Documents
As we mentioned before, it is extremely important to submit the exact documents based on your personal situation.
If you need expert guidance and assistance to collect the right documents for your application, do not hesitate to contact us.
For more expert advice, we also recommend you visit our guides section. You’ll find a variety of step-by-step comprehensive guides about the Schengen Visa requirements to help you navigate the application processes with greater ease.
Step 5: File Your Application
The usual fee for a Schengen Visa is €80, which is approximately equivalent to 1,605 South African Rand (ZAR). Please keep in mind that the Schengen Visa fee in ZAR may vary based on the current exchange rate.
Additionally, if you have not applied for a Schengen Visa in the previous five years, you will need to provide your biometric information.
Generally, the processing time for Schengen Visa applications from South Africa is approximately 15 working days.
However, the actual duration can vary based on several factors, including the type of Visa you have applied for, the country you intend to visit, and the number of requests being processed at the time.
After submitting your application, you will receive a reference number you can use to track the status of your application.
If your application is approved, the Schengen Visa sticker will be affixed to a page on your passport.
In the unfortunate event that your application is rejected, you have the right to appeal Your Schengen Visa refusal (only if you have strong reasons to believe that the decision of the Embassy was incorrect).
The Bottom Line
Applying for a Schengen Visa from South Africa can be overwhelming, but with the right guidance and preparation, it can be a smooth and straightforward process.
Remember to gather all the necessary documents based on your personal situation and travel purpose, schedule your appointment well in advance, and pay close attention to the details when completing your application.
By following these steps, you can increase your chances of obtaining a Schengen Visa and enjoying a stress-free trip to Europe.