Changes to SA Visa Requirements

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Dear FIVA Clients,

As you might know FIVA has been incorporated as a non-profit company to manage the concessions awarded to the film and photographic industry to ease the visa application process.  The Department of Home Affairs has agreed that the CPA, NAMA and SAASP should create FIVA as administrator.  Its services are available to the entire film, acting, modelling and photographic industries and not limited to the membership of the above organisations.


Visa Exempt Country:Visitors from a Visa Exempt Country need a Visitor’s visa but it is issued on arrival in South Africa by way of receiving a stamp in the passport at the airport.

Visa Non Exempt Country: Visitors from a Visa Non Exempt Country need a Visitor’s visa issued at a SA embassy or Consulate prior to arrival in South Africa.

Oversight Visitor: A visitor participating in a Film shoot in an oversight capacity needing only a Visitor’s visa as per definitions above

Specialist Visitor: A visitor working in a film shoot who needs a Visitor’s visa with Work Authorization issued prior to arrival.

FIVA currently operates in accordance with one Directive and one Foreign Office Circular which together have allowed the industry to have a category of visitor that participates in projects in South Africa on an Oversight basis.

This allows visitors from Visa Exempt countries to arrive in South Africa with a FIVA letter and receive their visa at the airport (this is included in the stamp received in a passport).

Those visitors from a Visa Non Exempt Country as well as those who are deemed to be Specialists but from visa exempt countries, need to obtain visas in the normal course before arrival but the list of requirements needing to be submitted to the embassy is greatly reduced on presentation of the FIVA letter.

Specialists from both Visa Exempt & Visa Non Exempt Countries currently need to apply in person for either a 90 day (S.11.2) or 3 Year (s11.1.b.iv)  Visitors visas with Work Authorization.

FIVA continually works with the department of Home Affairs to streamline the process and to seek additional relaxation of the rules in order to further assist the industry.

FIVA is now happy to advise that some of these efforts have been successful and that from the 27th of March 2018 the following will apply as per new Directive 4 of 2018, which is to be read in conjunction with Directive 30 of 2014 and FOC 2 of 2015:

Click here for a more detailed summary prepared by the FIVA office.

The Advantages.

  • Directors, Directors of Photography and Photographers will be removed from the Specialist list and added to the Oversight list, so if from a Visa Exempt Country they may proceed directly to Port of entry as long as they have a valid FIVA letter.
  • The “Specialist Visitors visa with Work Authorisation” (both the 90 day and 3 year versions) will no longer need to carry the name of the company that makes the original application.  This allows an Applicant to work for other companies for as long as the visa is valid. All companies having a person with an existing visa on their shoot are obliged to be registered with FIVA and secure a FIVA letter confirming the visa holder’s presence on the project each time this happens. This letter must be in the possession of the applicant and its purpose is to inform Home Affairs of the activities of the Applicant while here and performing under the FIVA guidelines.
  • Please not that should a model agency for instance prefer that their name still be displayed on the Visa that they should ask for this when applying.
  • For those Applicants who need to apply for a visa prior to arrival, they no longer need to be in his/her place of residence in order to process the application.  This presumes that the Applicant is legally working in/visiting the country from which the application is taking place.

The Concessions:  

  • Filmmakers in the Specialist category who have already been granted a 90 day visa previously, will need to apply for a 3 year visa for the next visit.  This clearly comes with the added requirement of obtaining a medical report, radiology report and police clearance.
  • The outer limit of working days allowed to the embassies to complete the application has been extended to 10 days with a strong encouragement to complete in the existing 5 days.

The previous two items are being imposed to lessen the workload at the embassies and consulates and have been part of the negotiation.

FIVA believes that on the whole the changes are good for the industry as it allows those vital roles of Director, DP and Photographer far easier access to visas.   Those Applicants that might be forced to get the three-year visa will have the advantage of not having to do it again for that period and they can come in and work on multiple productions for different FIVA registered companies.   HA will strongly encourage the embassies to process the applications within the current 5-day window.  We will start a process to see how the rest of the limitations can be negotiated in the future.

The FIVA board would like to thank its CEO, Rudi Riek, who has been central to these discussions and responsible for negotiating the concessions gained.

Yours Faithfully

Philip Key