Frequently asked questions

Validity of a South African passports

South African passports are valid as follows:

  1. Child passport (32 pages) 5 years, provided the passport is not mutilated, washed and includes clear/empty pages
  2. Regular passport (32 pages) 10 years, provided the passport is not mutilated, washed and includes clear/empty pages
  3. Maxi passport (64 pages) 10 years, provided the passport is not mutilated, washed and includes clear/empty pages
  4. Extra pages or recent photos may not be inserted into a valid passport

    How soon/early can I lodge my application?

  1. Please bear in mind that all applications are forwarded to Pretoria for processing.  The waiting period for any South African document is approximately between six (6) to ten (10) months

The Embassy has no influence on the processing time of the Department of Home Affairs

Does the Consular section take finger prints?

The Consular Section is where fingerprints are taken, in the following cases:

  • You are older than 15½ and applying to register your birth.
  • You are older than 15½ and applying for a South African passport.
  • You are older than 15½ and applying for a South African ID document (Green Booklet)

Q  Can I Travel with my baby to South Africa with his/her foreign passport?

Yes. Japanese passport holders are exempt for 90 days, however If visit is longer than 90 days a visitor’s visa is required. You are requested to register your baby as a South African citizen in Pretoria through the Embassy as soon as possible.  This process may take approximately six (6) months.

Once the baby is registered, you have the possibility of applying for a South African child passport.  This process may also take up to an additional six (6) months. These two application can be done simultaneously

In cases of emergencies (illness, death in the family), please approach the Consular Section for possible assistance.

Q  I applied at South African Embassy in Japan, however would like to pick up my passport in South Africa.  Is this possible?

A  The Embassy cannot change the delivery direction of any South African document.

  • If the document was applied for through the Embassy in Japan, it will be delivered to the Embassy by Diplomatic Bag from Pretoria
  • When the document reaches the Embassy, you will be informed by e-mail accordingly. You will be requested to forward a self-addressed stamped envelope
  • If you have submitted a self-addressed-stamped envelope while completing your application, then the document will be forwarded to your address accordingly
  • You may also decide to collect the document from the Embassy personally. Embassy will give you a collection date on request.
  • Collection of documents from Home Affairs in Pretoria has to be agreed upon by applicant

    Q. Can I apply for Emergency certificate?
    A. Emergency certificates are issued after obtaining approval from the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria and for the following reasons:

  • You have lost your passport in Japan and need to return to South Africa
  • You are being deported by the Japanese authorities
  • You have a family member who is ill (doctor’s certificate required)
  • You have a family member who has passed away (death certificate required)

An Emergency certificate is a one-way trip to South Africa on a direct flight.  You must make sure you have a current valid South African passport to return to Japan.

Q  I am selling property in South Africa, I need the assistance of the commissioner of oath

A  Please set up an appointment with the Embassy online

Please make sure that:

  • All documents are in English language including the instructions received from your lawyer and correctly prepared.
  • You will be unable to forward or receive any new pages by e-mail using your telephone.
  • Documents up to 10 pages will be processed the same morning free of charge
  • Documents 11 pages and more will be processed on the following Monday and will be forwarded to you by mail. Please provide a self-addressed-stamped envelope for the return of the documents

Q: How long does it take to process a visa?

A: It takes fourteen (14) working days provided all the documents are completed.

Q: Do I need a Transit Visa?

A: If you are a non South African visa exempt passport holder who is in transit in the Republic of South Africa en route (by air, road or rail) to a country that shares a border with the Republic (Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe) must apply to be issued with a visa at a South African Mission abroad, before proceeding to the Republic of South Africa.

Please note that all foreigners who are in transit and in possession of a valid ticket for a connecting flight to any other country (excluding Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana and Zimbabwe) are not required to apply for a transit visa to make use of transit facilities at an international airport in the Republic of South Africa.

Q: What is the purpose of the expiry date on the visa and how must the period of validity of the visitor’s permit be calculated?

A: The expiry date on the visa states within which period the foreigner must enter the Republic. Upon admission the visa is deemed to be a visitor’s permit. The endorsement on the visa determines for which period the visitor’s permit will be valid, e.g. “To be admitted for a period of 30 days”. The calculation for the expiry date of the permit is made from the date of entry. The actual expiry date is not endorsed on the permit.

Q: Do Japanese passport holders require a Visa for South Africa?

A: Japanese Passport holders do not require a Visa to visit South Africa for ninety (90) days for holiday / business purposes. Requirements for visitors who do NOT need a Visa (Port of Entry):

  • For a visit of 90 (ninety) days or less in respect of tourism or business
  • A valid Passport for at least 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit
  • At least 2 empty pages in the Passport (for endorsements at the Port of Entry)
  • Valid return-ticket

Q: I am working in the entertainment industry, e.g. film producer, model, photographer and involved in the shooting of a film in the RSA. Do I need a visa?

A: Any person who intends to practice his / her profession in the RSA for a period not exceeding six months require authorization in terms of section 11(2) of the Act to do so on his / her visitor’s permit Should he / she be exempt from visa control he / she may proceed to the port of entry with letters from the agency / company locally / abroad confirming the foreigners’ full particulars, purpose & period of visit and designation. The Immigration Officer will then issue the visitor’s permit with the authorization at the port of entry. The permit will be valid for the period of the exemption (30 /90 days) and may be extended once for another 90 days. Should the foreigner be subject to visa control he / she must apply for a visa and the authorization to work on the visitor’s permit at a South African Representative abroad. Should it be approved the foreigner will be issued with a visa with the authorization to work endorsed on it and will be allowed to stay for a maximum period of 90 days and may apply once for an extension of 90 days. For a visit that will exceed six months the foreigner must apply for a work permit.

Q: How can I get a refund of my cash deposit

A : A cash deposit shall be refunded on receipt of the following documents: original passport to confirm the holder’s final departure from the Republic of South Africa, or whether a permanent residence permit was issued to the holder;

original receipt, issued by our office or by a regional office of the Department of Home Affairs, if applicable, in respect of the payment of the cash deposit (Please note that under no circumstances, will a cash deposit be refunded, should this original receipt be lost);

letter confirming the details of applicant’s bank account and contact details; and

Q: How can I pay my administrative fine for an overstay?

A: The following documents should be submitted to our office in respect of each person, who has received an administrative fine for an overstay: original passport to enter the endorsement that the administrative fine was paid;

original form BI-1731 regarding the administrative fine that was issued to the foreigner on departure from the Republic of South Africa;


An official shall therefore impose the fine as prescribed.
Failure to pay the prescribed fine will mean that a foreigner will not be admitted to South Africa, or be issued with a Visa or Permit if already admitted, a permit shall not be issued or renewed nor a subsequent permit issued.
The obligation of all foreigners is clearly defined in terms of Section 43 of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, which reads:
Obligation of foreigners
Section 43 of the Act: A foreigner shall:

abide by the terms and conditions of his or her status, including any terms and conditions attached to the relevant permit by the Department upon its issuance, extension or renewal;

and depart upon expiry of his or her status.

Payment of Fine

A foreigner who has already been issued with a fine may pay the fine through the South African Embassy in Tokyo. The administration fine can only be paid in Yen if paid through our Mission.

Q: What type of return postage system does the Embassy use?

A: For all applications originating from within Japan :

If you would like your Passport / Visa returned to you via post then please include a self addressed “LETTERPACK500” envelope with your application. LETTERPACK500 can be purchased from the Post Office.

Q: Can the Embassy act as a Commissioner of Oaths?

A: Yes. The person needs to sign in the presence of the Commissioner therefore no postal requests can be accepted.

Q: What are the requirements for a foreigner to get married in South Africa?

A: All persons getting married in South Africa are subject to the legislation of the Marriage Act, 1961 (Act 25 of 1961) which does not differentiate between South African citizens and aliens with regard to the solemnization of a marriage in the Republic of South Africa.
Intending bridal couples should in all cases consult the marriage officer in South Africa who is to perform the ceremony to ensure compliance with the prescribed formalities.
Under the South African Law a marriage is prohibited under the following conditions: Persons who are already married.  An existing marriage can only be terminated through death or by a competent court of law.

Minors. A minor may not enter into marriage unless the marriage officer is in possession of a written consent from both parents or the guardian.

Persons without contractual capacity. This refers to majors who are suffering from mental disorders. A person who is insane, may, however, contract a valid marriage if it can be proven that the person is lucid and in full possession of his faculties when concluding the contract.

Prohibited degrees of relationships as indicated below:

the forebear or a descendant of the husband/wife

Marriage should take place in accordance with South African law.  Should the couple wish to get married in terms of a specific contract, they should approach a South African attorney beforehand to draw up the contract.  If such contract is not produced to the marriage officer then the marriage will be registered as “In community of Property”.
The following are the noted general requirements for getting married in South Africa. Once again it is suggested that intending bridal couples should consult the marriage officer in South Africa who is to perform the ceremony to ensure compliance with the prescribed formalities

2 valid means of identification; one must be a photo ID & Passport

Proof of marital status from country of citizenship

A notarized declaration by the party concerned to the effect that the person is not aware of any lawful impediment to the proposed marriage

There is no residency requirement for foreign nationals

There is no blood testing requirement

Please contact the nearest Home Affairs Regional Office to make an appointment date for the marriage to take place or if the marriage will take place in a church then the Minister of that church should be contacted to make an appointment for the ceremony.

Q: What can I bring into South Africa?

A: Duty Free Allowances – South African customs passenger allowances entitle you to bring new or used goods of up to R3 000 in value into the country without paying any duty. For additional goods, new or used, of up to R12 000 in value, you will be charged a flat rate 20% duty. Thereafter, normal customs duties apply. You can also bring in, duty-free, the following:

Wine – up to 2 litres per person.

Spirits and other alcoholic beverages – up to 1 litre in total per person.

Cigarettes – up to 200 per person.

Cigars – up to 20 per person.

Cigarette or pipe tobacco – up to 250g per person.

Perfume – up to 50ml per person.

Eau de toilette (scented liquid lighter than cologne) – up to 250ml per person.

Note:  The alcohol and tobacco allowances only apply to people over 18.

Q: What restrictions are there on sending gift parcels by post to South Africa?

A: Bona fide unsolicited free gifts of not more than two parcels per calendar year, and of which the value per parcel does not exceed R400, 00 (excluding goods contained in passenger’s baggage, wine, spirits and manufacture tobacco (including cigarettes and cigars) may be sent by a natural person abroad to a natural person in the Republic.
The only form required to be completed by the sender of the parcel is the prescribed label obtained from any Post Office.
An indication as to the value is to be furnished and the label should be marked unsolicited free gift if such is the case.
No import permit is required if the free on board value does not exceed R400, 00. A nominal fee is levied by the South African Post Office.

Customs Duties
The duties payable on goods depend on the proper classification thereof, in the Customs tariff. When the importation of goods is subject to payment of duties such duties must be paid before the goods will be released from Customs control. Please note that all duties and rates are subject to amendment without prior notice.

Schedules to the Customs and Excise Acts (Tariff Books)

Schedules 1 to 6 of the Customs and Excise Act, 91 of 1964
The electronic version of Schedules 1 to 6 was developed to provide clients and Customs officers with easy access to the said schedules with the relevant duties and levies applicable to all imported, exported and local manufactured goods in the Republic.
You may also wish to contact SARS Customs: Commercial Services, e-mail:
Fax: + 27 12 422 6903
Tel: +27 12 422 6988

Goods Imported as Accompanied Passengers’ Baggage
Either by non-residents or residents of the Republic and cleared at the place where such persons disembark or enter the Republic, other than personal effects and sporting or recreational equipment:
Allocated amounts of Duty Free goods may be imported without payment of duty.
Other new or used goods, excluding firearms, of a total value not exceeding R1,250 per person may be imported without payment of duty.
Additional goods, new or used, excluding firearms, of a total value not exceeding R10,000, per person, (excluding goods of a class specified in paragraph (i). Provided the total value of the goods declared under this item does not exceed R10,000 the passenger may elect to pay the flat rate of 20% duty. Where a passenger import goods in excess of the total value mentioned, the flat rate of duty falls away and the full duty becomes payable.
The rebate of duty specified in paragraphs 2.0 (a) (ii) shall only be allowed once per person during a period of 330 days and shall not apply to goods imported: by persons travelling only between places in the Republic;

by persons returning after an absence of less than 48 hours.

The rebate mentioned may, with the exception of that in respect of tobacco and alcoholic products be claimed by children under 18 years of age, whether or not they are accompanied by their parents or guardians.
The above concessions are also subject to the following conditions:

The goods imported must actually accompany the passenger on the same ship or aircraft or vehicle.

Goods carried on behalf of third parties are subject to full duty and production of an import permit at the time of importation.

The rebate of duty specified in paragraph 2.0 shall not apply to firearms acquired abroad or at any duty free shop and imported by residents of the Republic returning after an absence of less than 6 months.

When required by an officer to do so, any person entering the Republic shall unreservedly declare all goods in his possession which he brought with him into the Republic. Failing to do so or to declare prohibited or restricted goods may lead to the imposition of penalties, seizure of the goods and forfeiture of all concessions.

Importation of Prohibited and Restricted Goods

Passengers in possession of prohibited or restricted goods, e.g. meat, live animals, dangerous drugs, firearms, ammunitions and explosives, indecent or obscene books, photographs, films and other articles, agricultural products, any plants, seeds, bulbs, etc. must declare such goods.
Live Animals, may only be imported against a permit issued by the Director, Division of Veterinary Services, Private Bag X138, Pretoria, 0001.
Firearms and Ammunition, require police permits, but Customs Officers at South African ports of entry have authority to issue temporary permits which are valid for 180 days in the case of tourists visiting South Africa.  Temporary permits will not be issued in respect of firearms imported on behalf of other persons. With regards to people moving to South Africa on a temporary basis or otherwise, application for a license to possess a firearm must be made to the Officer Commanding, South African Police, in the immigrant’s/returning South African’s residential area before the firearm my be imported into South Africa. The importation of a firearm without a serial number, or other number by which it can be identified, stamped or engraved on the metal is prohibited. In respect of a returning resident or a person who enters the Republic for purposes of permanent residence or to remain temporarily therein, the importation will be subject to production of an import permit. Only after these procedures are completed, may the firearm be exported to South Africa.
Honey or any products or preparation containing honey may not be imported at all.
Plants, seeds, bulb etc. may only be imported against a permit issued by the Department of Agriculture and permits must be applied for prior to departure for the Republic, direct to the Division of Plant and Seed Control, Private Bag X179, Pretoria, 0001. A Phytosanitary Certificate issued by the Authority concerned in the country of export will also be required.
Medicine, in the normal course of events, are prohibited by private individuals, but by way of a concession immigrants and tourists visiting the Republic may bring with them for their personal use a supply for a month provided they are in possession of a prescription for such medicine or a certificate from a chemist to the effect that the medicine was duly prescribed by a physician.. This does not apply to small amounts of patent medicines, e.g. aspirin, which are carried for own use.
Bank Notes
Persons entering the Republic may import Rand bank notes, in terms of the Exchange Control Regulations, but the amount is restricted to R5 000,00 per person.
People travelling in/out of SA are allowed the maximum amount of currency is R5000,00 in SA Bank Notes per person.

For more information please contact:
The South African Reserve Bank

Physical address : 370 Church Street, Pretoria, 0002, South Africa

Postal address : P.O. Box 427, Pretoria, 0001 South Africa

Entering South Africa: Customs Do’s and Don’ts

Customs Do’s

Select the green channel if you are sure that the goods in your possession fall within the duty free allowance, no goods are in your possession for commercial/trading purposes and no prohibited or restricted goods.

Never carry bags through customs for someone else.

MOTORISTS. If you are entering the Republic by vehicle, make sure that everyone travelling with you are aware of the customs declaration procedures applicable.

REGISTER VALUABLES. Ensure that certain identifiable items such as jewellery, cameras, watches, etc., are registered at customs for re-importation.

Customs don’ts

Don’t try to conceal any goods or mislead a customs officer. Anything, which is not correctly declared, may be detained or seized.

Prohibited goods are not allowed under any circumstances whereas restricted goods may be imported under cover of a permit or certificate.

CURRENCY CONTROL. S.A. Bank notes in excess of R5000,00 will not be allowed unless you are in possession of the necessary permit obtainable from the SA Reserve Bank.

Your responsibilities when making baggage declarations
When making baggage declarations, whether verbal or written, you must ensure that you declare ALL goods in your possession as well as their correct values.
Failure to declare goods, the under declaration of values or the production of false receipts can lead to seizure of your goods and can result in criminal prosecution or the imposition of severe penalties of up to three times the value of the goods.

 Police Clearance Certificates

Police Clearance’s are not processed by the Mission.

The South African Department of Foreign Affairs has been notified that applications for South African Police Clearances must be applied for directly with the South African Police Service (Criminal Records Centre) in Pretoria, South Africa.

If forwarded from abroad, the application may be forwarded via any reputable

courier company. The courier company must be PREPAID to collect the documents from the Criminal Record Centre and return the documents to the sender.

It is important to find out whether the requesting authority would need the police clearance certificate to be legalised. It will save time and money to submit the certificate to the Legalisation Section at the Department of International Relations and Co-operation  before it is returned to the applicant. Customers must specify this in their application to the Criminal Record Centre.

There is no specific application form but attached please find a form designed by the Department of Foreign Affairs for this purpose.

The following details are required:

a) Surname

b) Maiden name (if applicable, also specify in which surname the certificate

should to be issued).

c) Given names

d) Date of birth

e) Place of birth

f) South African ID number (if applicable)

g) Last residential address in South Africa

h) Last SA business / employer’s address

i) Telephone number of the above (h)

j) Date

k) Signature

l) Mailing address in the country of application

m) Zip/Postal Code

n) Telephone number

An application is made by sending the above information, together with a full set of fingerprints, to the Criminal Record Centre. Fingerprints are done by your closest Police Station or nearest South African Representative, if you are abroad. The application must be accompanied by a copy of the applicants Identity Document or Passport and a self-addressed and franked envelope if you want the application to be returned to you by post.

The applicant may deliver the completed application in person or mail the application to:

The Head of the South African Criminal Record Centre

(For attention: Police Clearance Certificates)

Private Bag X308



South Africa


The application may also be delivered by courier to:

The Head of the South African Criminal Record Centre

(For attention: Police Clearance Certificates)

Sanlam Plaza West

CRC Client Service Centre

1st Floor, Room 14

271 Schoeman Street


An applicant who prefers to make an electronic payment abroad can approach any Bank who can make a telegraphic transfer and request that the relevant fees be paid into above mentioned Bank account. Proof of payment must be sent to this office before the processing of the application will take place.

On completion, the certificate will be mailed to the applicant by post. Individuals abroad are responsible for their own postage. Applicants can arrange for the certificate to be collected via courier service at their own expense. A Police Clearance Certificate can be reissued within six months of the original application yet an additional cost of R59-00 will be required. After six months of the date of the original application a new application must be submitted.

E-mail address:

Type: This service is rendered on behalf of the Government to Citizen (G2C)

Service Standard: The average time to render this service will take approximatelytwenty one (21) working days from the day that the complete application is received at the Pretoria Criminal Record Centre until the Clearance Certificate is issued.


SAPS 91 (a)  Fingerprint form is available at the Mission

Japanese Police Clearance Certificate

For details on how to apply for a Japanese Police clearance Certificate the following external link has been provided for your information:

Import of animals and animal products into South Africa

The Directorate Veterinary Services, Sub-Directorate Import Export Control in Pretoria will be able to assist you should any further information be required.

The Director: Veterinary Services

Import Export Policy Unit

Private Bag X138




In cases where quarantine of animals is required, the importer must contact the Quarantine Officer at the port of entry:

Points to Remember:

A valid rabies certificate obtained at least 30 days prior to your departure. This certificate should not have been obtained more than 12 months or less than 30 days prior to exporting. The vaccine used must be a strain of anti-rabies conforming to a potency standard recognized by the World Health Organization.

Please note that it is a condition of the import permit that dogs/cats imported into South Africa should be booked as “manifested cargo” and NOT as “excess baggage”.

Livestock enters South Africa as manifested cargo in the temperature-controlled hold of the aircraft. Cabin stowage is not permitted. Dogs and cats must be older than 8 weeks.

As available space could be a problem you are advised to book well in advance when transporting pets.

Contact the Airline you are using to find out what their specific requirements are.

For more information:

Importing / Exporting Animals to or from Japan

Procedures to bring animals into Japan or export animals from Japan can be found by accessing the following external link:

Importation of used vehicles to South Africa

Application for a permit to import a second-hand or used vehicle

If you want to import second-hand or used vehicles to South Africa, you need special permission from the Ministry of Trade and Industry or its agents. The Ministry will decide if it is in the best interests of the public for the second-hand or used vehicles to be imported.

You must submit the prescribed application form to apply for import permits. Import permits are needed for all goods that are subject to import control measures.

Import permits are required to ensure that imported second-hand goods do not destroy the industry of the South African Customs Union (SACU). This service enhances control for safety and quality compliance reasons.

For more information go to the International Trade Administration Commission.

Steps to follow:

Complete the application form: IE 462

Supply the Department with a certified copy of your identity document.

Supply the Department with a certified copy of the vehicle’s registration certificate.

Submit the form to the Directorate: Import and Export Control of the International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC).

Contact Details: International Trade Administration Commission (ITAC).

Physical Address: 77 Meintjies Street, Block E, Sunnyside, Pretoria, 0001

Postal Address: Private Bag X753, Pretoria, 0001

Tel: 0861 843 384

Web Site:



South African Bureau of Standards

Private Bag X191



Tel : + 27 12 428 6276

Fax : + 27 12 428 6565

The import duties on motor vehicles are at present as follows:

Customs duty: 40%

Ad-Valorem Customs duty: on a sliding scale with a maximum of 20%