Tips for hassle-free Africa visa applications

Like all destinations, Africa has its own set of challenges for business travel. We asked Samantha Phillips, operations manager from Visas and Passports Unlimited, what common challenges corporates face when applying for visas into Africa, and what she thinks corporates should know to make the process run more smoothly.

“At the top of the list is the traveller applying for the incorrect visa,” Phillips said, with a common confusion being the difference between a business visa and a temporary work permit (TWP). “A business visa is required when visiting a specific country for the purpose of attending business meetings/conferences etc.,” she explained. “A TWP, in broad terms, is required by an individual who is required to travel to a specific country for a short period of time to do actual work, for example auditing, fixing machinery, or training staff.”

Phillips also shared some tips for business travellers when applying for African visas. “Firstly, travellers are responsible for making sure their visa application details are correct. This includes their name and surname, passport number, period of validity (single, double or multiple), the duration of the stay valid for the dates they require, and the country of validity.” 

Travellers should make sure that the visa they are applying for adequately covers the type of travel they are doing. “Each African country has its own rules and regulations with regard to the validity of a visa,” she said. “Some issue only for the exact dates required, and others issue for a 30-day period. Some issue visas that are valid from the date of issue of the visa, and others issue visas that are valid from date of entry.” 

Phillips also said that the format of invitation letters could be a challenge. “Some African countries require this to be addressed exactly as per an address provided, some require the letter to be in a foreign language, or require copies of the host person’s passport as proof of authentication, and others require the host company’s registration documents.  Some invitation letters even require stamps from their immigration authorities prior to sending to the company in SA.”

She added that some African countries, such as Nigeria, have very specific requirements when it comes to proof of financial means. “Bank statements must have an original bank stamp, and some countries require the account to have a minimum balance. For example, Nigeria requires a minimum balance of R18 000.”

Lastly, Phillips said travellers must ensure their passports are valid, have sufficient pages, and are not damaged in any way. 

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