Delegates are requested to check relevant South Africa visa requirements as soon as possible. It is the delegates’ responsibility to investigate visa requirements and to apply for a visa, if necessary. As the average processing time for a visa can take up to 2 months, we recommend visa applications to be made by the end of May 2016.
For more detailed information please visit the website of the South African Department of Home Affairs.
General information about South African visas
Visas are required for international travellers (citizens of other countries) who have permanent residence outside South Africa and who wish to visit the country on a temporary basis for tourism or business purposes for a period of 90 days or less. A visa simply indicates that your application has been reviewed at a South African embassy, mission or consulate and that the consular officer has determined you are eligible to enter the country for a specific purpose. The visa will allow you to travel to a South African port of entry where an immigration official will then determine if you are allowed to enter South Africa and for how long you can stay for that particular visit. Visitors are restricted to the activity or reason for which their visas were issued.
Requirements to apply for a visa
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Please be aware that requirements for visas differ from country to country, and the requirements are subject to change.
As each application is treated on an individual basis, you should make enquiries with your nearest South African mission or consulate or any office of the Department of Home Affairs to see if it is necessary to apply for a visa.
Countries with no South African representation can submit their applications in the nearest country via DHL or other currier services.
Visas are not issued at South African ports of entry, and airline officials are obliged to insist on visas before allowing passengers to board. If you arrive without a visa, immigration officials are obliged to put you onto a flight back to your home country.
Requirements for entering South Africa
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Visas for people attending a conference in South Africa
The application for a visa must be supported by a letter or invitation for the conference. Delegates requiring an official Letter of Invitation from the conference can request it by contacting the AIDS 2016 Registration Department.
Please note that the South African Department of Home Affairs has granted a waiver of visa application fees for applications submitted by AIDS 2016 conference delegates after 6th June 2016. Reimbursements are not possible for visa applications submitted before this date. For more information, please contact the South African Department of Home Affairs directly.
There are citizens of countries that also need an airport transit visa in order to change planes at an airport in a Schengen Area country or in the United States. In case you are transiting in one of these countries please contact the relevant consulate to request a transit visa.
For more information please see:
Don't forget that certain goods are illegal to bring into South Africa and others require a duty payment. For South African Customs requirements, please visit www.sars.gov.za/ClientSegments/Customs-Excise/Travellers/Pages/Arrival-in-SA.aspx.
For more information on travelling with medication please consult our fact sheet.
For a full list of prohibited and restricted goods please visit the website of the South African Revenue Service.
Onsite harm reduction services will be made available to conference delegates. For more information on access to opioid substitution therapy (OST) and our needle/syringe programme (NSP) please visit the AIDS 2016 Harm Reduction web page.
Yellow fever vaccination requirements
The Republic of South Africa is a signatory to the International Health Regulations (2005), and therefore requires travellers from certain WHO-designated countries to have received the yellow fever vaccination. It is usual practice to confirm adherence to this requirement at embarkation. Participants of the conference who are travellers from these WHO designated countries are advised to review the country list, and assess their vaccination requirements at least 2-3 weeks prior to travel.
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Yellow fever vaccination is contraindicated in a minority of persons. The following persons are advised NOT to receive the yellow fever vaccine by most medical authorities, and should obtain a waiver letter:
- Persons with a proven history of allergy to any vaccine component, notably egg allergy
- Children under the age of 9 months
- Persons with altered immune status such as thymus disorder, HIV AIDS with CD4 <200cells/mm3, or <15% of total lymphocyte count for children < 6 years of age.
- Persons receiving immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory therapies including corticosteroids, TNF-alpha inhibitors or other monocolonal antibodies targeting immune cells
In the following persons the administration of the vaccine will depend on a risk benefit – if there is current transmission of yellow fever or especially if there is a current outbreak then the vaccine should be administered:
- Persons with asymptomatic HIV infection with moderate immune suppression (CD4<500> 200 cells/mm3). Decision to vaccinate should be taken in consultation with a health professional.
- Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding
- Adults >60 years of age
Delegates to the conference with any of the above conditions should consult with their doctor at least 2 weeks prior to departure to review their eligibility for yellow fever vaccination, and to obtain the necessary documentation.
Yellow fever documentation required at embarkation and arrival in South Africa
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Please be aware that if travellers from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission cannot provide proof of vaccination or a waiver letter from their doctor, they will be requested to return home or quarantined at their own cost for six days.
For more information on yellow fever please visit www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs100/en/ or consult the Frequently Asked Questions.
For more detailed health information please consult the fact sheet on Health information for international delegates.