We’re used to visas being stickers in your passport that you get after you’ve sent it away to an embassy for a bit, or in some cases, on arrival in other countries. But the world is a-changing, and technological changes have resulted in even differences in the way that you can get a visa – the piece of paper giving you permission and conditions for entry into another country.
“Travel documents accepted for border integrity purposes underpin the ideals of safety and security. The importance of valid travel documents to international security cannot be overstated as the ability to operate with anonymity, across borders, is a powerful enabler for persons to advance unlawful and illegitimate activities,” said minister of home affairs Malusi Gigaba in 2015.
E-visas and ETAs (Electronic Travel Authority) are a newer way to provide authorisation to travel to and enter certain countries, and are electronically linked to your passport. It’s different to normal visa processes in that it is a fully online process until you get to your destination. So while it’s possible to apply for certain visas online before sending your passport along to the embassy for them to do their thing, and it’s possible to get a visa on arrival in some countries, it’s not fully like either process, but borrows from elements of both.
While both a visa on arrival and an e-visa are stickers that you get on arrival at your destination country, it’s very important to note the distinction. With the countries that require an e-visa, you cannot enter if you do not get the pre-approval. It’s easy to get confused, so it’s important to do research! Below are the countries that South Africans can enter using an electronic visa.
Fancy a visit Down Under? The land of kangaroos and the Sydney Opera House is easily accessible through the obtainment of an online visa. While those unable to do it online can do it physically, the online process is relatively straightforward. Fill in a form, provide necessary documentation, wait for approval (processing takes around 35 days), and pay the fee – 130 Australian dollars, which is roughly R1,300.
The second strongest currency in the world is the Bahraini Dinar, with a single Dinar equivalent to around R36. Like many Middle Eastern countries, it’s a hot and humid place, with a relatively newly-developed cosmopolitan skyline and, as a Muslim country, featuring very strong Islamic presence in terms of much of the religious and cultural elements.
There’s some paperwork that you need to submit online, as well as a fee of around US$126 (about R1, 700) that you pay by credit card. You’ll need to allow about five working days for processing, and you’ll then have a multiple-entry visa, valid for a month.
3. Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire, or Ivory Coast, is a West African country with a stunning history, which was colonised by the French – effects of which are still prevalent in the resource-rich country today. It is the world’s largest exporter of cocoa beans, and the fourth-largest exporter of goods, in general, in sub-Saharan Africa (following South Africa, Nigeria, and Angola).
Visiting is a relatively pain-free process. You fill out a form, select the length of stay and upload whatever other required documents are necessary, and make an online payment of around 70 Euros (roughly R1, 000). It takes about 48 hours to get a response, which will provide you with a confirmation document, including a barcode, and other information you’ll need for when you land. Upon presentation of this at the airport, you’ll get a printout on that side – and you’re in.
4. Sri Lanka
Magnificent ruins, balmy weather, and the home of one of the largest tea exporters in the world, Sri Lanka is an island south of India that is becoming increasingly popular as a tourist destination.
You apply online for an ETA through filling in the relevant forms, and pay a fee of US$35 (about R480). This will secure you a 30-day double entry visa.
The land of Erdogan, milk, and honey scrapped its visa on arrival policy a couple of years back – but the new system isn’t too bad to work with. As soon as you apply with your details online, you get a multiple-entry visa emailed to you, valid for 180 days. Best part? Zero cost! And you only need to do it around 48 hours before you leave (although you can do it further in advance).