Visa free travel between New Zealand and South African which has been in place for over a decade has officially come to an end for travellers in both directions. The New Zealand High Commission announced in September that they were to reintroduce visa requirements for all South African travellers travelling to New Zealand. South Africa decided to follow suit and visa exemption for New Zealand citizens travelling to South Africa now also have to apply for visas with effect from 16th January 2017. From this date on all travellers wishing to travel between the two countries need to apply for a visa at the South African High Commission in Wellington.
The visa application for visas less than 90 days is fairly straightforward and usually issued within 30 days of application.
The New Zealand government have said that the reintroduction of the visa policy is due to an increase in South African visitors overstaying or abusing their visa rights, or attempting to travel under counterfeit or fraudulent documents. No comment has been made by the South African government on their announcement although the visa free arrangement had long been accepted as being a reciprocal agreement and once New Zealand had removed the South African visa free rights it was only a matter of time before the South African government followed suit.
It is unclear how long these visa rules will be in place or whether they are temporary arrangements but many travellers between the two countries will have considerable more paperwork to contend with and are advised to check all updates on the regulations before planning any trips. There is a health travel business between the two countries and it is hoped that the ending of visa free travel will not affect either business or tourism between New Zealand and South Africa.
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