Document Checklist: Business Visa Application Requirements

Document Checklist What You Need for a Business Visa Application


Acquiring a South African business visa is no small task, and there’s a mountain of required documentation and information you must acquire well before undertaking the application process.

Making a checklist of all the relevant documents and information you need is incredibly important and since there’s a relatively linear order of process in the application’s pipeline, you can make sure that the larger tasks that required the most amount of time and energy get ticked off first, while the simpler tasks get dealt with closer to the time.

Overview of Required Documents for a Business Visa Application

The following default documents are required for your business visa application:

  • A valid passport
  • A completed and signed application form (completed in black ink only)
  • Two recent colour passport-sized photographs
  • A detailed cover letter
  • The DTI recommendation including supporting documents
  • Flight itinerary
  • Proof of accommodation and relevant details
  • Police clearance certificate
  • Payment of visa fees and proof thereof
  • Chartered Accountant certificate

Passport and Photographs

A passport is naturally the most important thing you need to receive a visa of any kind. Your original passport with 2 blank visa pages (one to endorse/stamp the visa and the other one for entry/exit stamps) is compulsory. Your passport must also be valid for 30 days or more from the date of departure from South Africa.

If you have any previous South African visas you must submit adequate photocopies of those for reference.

As for photographs, they must be up-to-date and recently taken passport-sized photographs; you need to submit two of them. Passport-sized photos are generally 4.5cm×3.5cm in width.

Police Clearance Certificates and Medical Reports

A police clearance certificate (PCC) is a vital piece of documentation required for your visa application as it verifies your criminal record and serves to prove that you are of sound character and desirable.

A PCC is valid for 6 months from issuance.

A template is provided for the medical certificate (form bi-811) and needs to be completed, signed, dated and stamped by a registered doctor. It is valid for a period of 6 months.

Residential and Contact Information

Your accommodation information is incredibly important to your application and requires a decent chunk of information regarding it.

If you are staying at a hotel, proof of hotel bookings is required, either provisional or confirmed. If you’re not staying at a hotel and your situation is slightly different, there are additional documents required.

If you are staying with a company accommodation, staff house, guest house, or otherwise, you will be required to submit copies of the following:

  • Passport copy of the signatory in the South African invitation letter
  • Proof of Address that shows the address as indicated in the letter of invitation.

If you are staying with a family/colleague/relative/friend, you will be required to submit the following:

  • Invitation letter (typed and signed) that is dated no more than one month from the date of application. It must include the physical address and contact details of the South African host
    • If your host is South African, provide a copy of their South African ID or passport
    • If they are NOT South African, provide a copy of their passport and permanent residence certificate or visa
  • Proof of address of the host showing the address as indicated in the invitation letter.

Additional Documentation for Specific Cases

There are also a number of supplementary documents required for specific cases.

If you are married or divorced, and/or have children, and intend on bringing dependents along on the trip, then there are a number of dependents documents required for submission.

This can include (when applicable):

  • Police clearance for dependents (only for children over the age of 18)
  • Medical report
  • Marriage Certificate OR Divorce Decree OR Death Certificate of Spouse OR Legal Separation Order
  • Spousal affidavit
  • Financial means; you will be required to prove you can financially provide for all dependents while in South Africa
  • Proof of adoption/birth certificate

A yellow fever certificate is required if you (and any dependents of yours travelling alongside) have been in a yellow fever zone in the past year, and whether the applicants are transiting for more than 12 hours through a yellow fever endemic zone.

If you DO NOT have a certificate and you travel through a yellow fever zone, you are required to administer the vaccine at least 10 days prior to travelling to South Africa.

If you haven’t been in or through a yellow fever zone in over a year, you are not required to submit any certificates.

Applicants who are citizens of the countries which happen to fall under yellow fever zones must submit a copy of a yellow fever certificate, even if they have not travelled to the zone in the past year.

DTI recommendation letter and Chartered Accountant certificate

One of the most important supporting documents for a business visa application is the DTI recommendation letter that also includes the Chartered Accountant certificate. The DTI application helps demonstrate the viability and potential of your business in South Africa and the Chartered Accountant certificate you provide, helps to prove that your business will be able to financially sustain itself and give back to the South African economy.

Your application to the DTI should include the following:

  1. Description of the business
  2. The expertise of the applicant (qualifications, work experience and applicable entrepreneurial expertise)
  3. Services
  4. Market
  5. Competitive Advantage
  6. Management and Employees (organizational chart optional)
  7. Financial Projections
  8. Contribution to national interest (reference applicable Immigration Regulations as well as priority economic sectors as promoted by the DTIC)
  9. Feasibility of the business
  10. Value of the cash or capital contribution
  11. Motivation if a waiver of the cash / capital contribution is required

As for the Chartered Accountant certificate you will have to produce, there is a list of relevant statements and proofs you must collect to obtain the Chartered Accountant certificate. This can and should include the following (the items marked with an asterisk* are only required if applicable to you and your business):

  • Bank Statements: recent bank statements from your personal and/or business accounts showing that you have the ZAR 5 million available in your account overseas
  • Proof of Investment: evidence that any the funds invested in the South African business, have been transferred to SA from the applicants account overseas
  • Audited Financial Statements: if the business you are investing in is already operational, you need to include audited financials of the previous financial year
  • It is very important that the investment is from your personal and business account abroad. Investment from SA or third party investments are not possible.

For the DTI application, you also need to provide the following documents:

In the case of a first application, an undertaking to meet each of the specified requirements listed must be submitted.

  • Undertaking by the applicant that at least 60% of the total staff compliment to be employed in the operations of the business shall be South African citizens or permanent residents employed permanently in various positions

An undertaking (or proof) to register with the:

  • South African Revenue Service;
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund;
  • Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC); and
  • Relevant professional body, board or council recognised by SAQA in terms of section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act where applicable: (Provided that upon registration, all certificates shall be submitted to the Director-General) (If applicable)
  • If the investment is into an existing business, financial statements (one set) of the preceding financial year is required

Conclusion and Checklist Summary

It may seem like there’s a fair bit of documentation required for a business visa application, but for the most part, these documents should be readily available or easily accessible. Making use of a qualified professional such as a Chartered Accountant can greatly improve and streamline your application process.

All documents, required and complimentary, need to be organised, in order, and presented clearly. Just make sure to plan accordingly and ensure you have plenty of time to gather and organise all your documents well in advance of your proposed date of entry.

Written by Simon Carletti, PR and Creative Supervisor

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