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How To Obtain South Africa Digital Nomad Visa

Digital nomad visas have been a hot topic in many countries since 2020, but Africa is the region most strongly overlooked. Currently, few options are available, as Namibia became the first mainland African country to create a digital nomad visa. Other countries like Mauritius and Seychelles also offer digital nomad visas. However, these are some of the only options available now unless you want to stay on a tourist visa or apply for residency. South Africa may be one option for digital nomads in the future, as the country is in talks of launching a digital nomad visa soon. The country is a great low-cost place to live and has stunning geography and tourist destinations.

 

Durban is one of the most beautiful places you can visit while in South Africa

Durban is one of the most beautiful places you can visit while in South Africa

CURRENT OPTIONS

While many countries in Europe and South America like Spain, Portugal and Brazil have been rushing to create new digital nomad visas, Africa has been moving much slower. Anyone who wants to live in a country like South Africa as a digital nomad had to previously live there on a tourist visa or apply for other types of temporary residence permits. Anyone who wants to stay in South Africa for longer than three months and up to three years must apply for a temporary residence permit. This residence permit currently covers people who want to move to South Africa to study, set up a business, retire or work for a company. While these options are great, they are not tailored towards digital nomads and are hard for most people to apply to unless they have a specific business in South Africa.

However, the South African government announced in April 2022 that it plans to launch a digital nomad visa in the coming year. This visa would add digital nomads to the previously listed categories and allow them to be temporary residents of South Africa while working remotely for companies outside the country. The visa length is still being determined, but it could last up to three years if it is anything like the current temporary residence permit. Since it is easy to get a tourist visa on arrival to many other African countries, this could be a great way to explore the region, as popular countries like Tanzania, Kenya, and Nigeria do not currently offer digital nomad visas.

 

Related content: The Basics Of How To Get A Second Passport Or A Second Residency

 

Johannesburg can offer better infrastructure in general

Johannesburg can offer better infrastructure in general

LIVING IN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa has many natural attractions, including coastlines, deserts, savannahs, and gorges. This country is a great place to be based if you want to spend 1-3 years exploring Africa, especially because there aren’t digital nomad visas for nearby countries yet. Tourism is a very significant part of the economy, and the government launched this visa in hopes that this could help attract long-term visitors. South Africa’s tourist arrivals dropped by around 80% during Covid. Offering a digital nomad visa could allow South Africa to boost its tourism numbers and gain more revenue from longer-term residents.

Cost of Living: The cost of living in South Africa is very low, and some digital nomads may be able to live on less than $1,000 USD/month. Depending on the location, some apartments in Johannesburg cost less than $400 USD/month.

Internet speed in South Africa: The average internet download speed in South Africa is around 28.62 Mbps, which is relatively slow. Living in major cities like Johannesburg is better if the internet speed is a high priority for you.

Safety is a concern: Crime is a severe issue in South Africa and is a factor that you should be mindful of if you plan to live in the country. Precautions such as avoiding going out alone at night and paying more for rent in safer neighbourhoods can help lower the risk of you experiencing crime.

Language: South Africa has many official languages, including Afrikans, but you can get by easily if you speak English. South Africa is very used to receiving many tourists, so navigating the country will not be a problem.

Regional Opportunities: It is easy to fly directly from Johannesburg to other popular tourist destinations in Africa, so this is a great hub if you want to explore the region. South Africa borders Zimbabwe, Namibia, Botswana, and Eswatini.

 

You can visit South Africa as a tourist while waiting for the digital nomad visa

You can visit South Africa as a tourist while waiting for the digital nomad visa

APPLYING FOR THIS DIGITAL NOMAD VISA

At the moment, the application is not open, and you can’t apply for this digital nomad visa. It is best to visit there as a tourist, apply for a temporary residence permit through another method, or to consider Namibia’s digital nomad visa program instead.

Once the application opens, anyone will be able to apply, as there are not currently any nationality restrictions. You will likely have to provide other information about your work and accommodation and purchase international health insurance. The government has also mentioned giving tax breaks to digital nomads, but this is not final. Income taxes in South Africa are between 18-36% at the moment, which is relatively high.

 

This lake in Johannesburg is one of South Africas natural beauty postcard

This lake in Johannesburg is one of South Africa's natural beauty postcard

FINAL THOUGHTS

South Africa is not the best destination for international residency or investment. However, it will be a great place to spend several years as a digital nomad, especially if you want to explore Africa, where options for digital nomads are limited. Namibia currently offers a 6-month digital nomad visa, so this is the best option to consider while waiting. If you don’t work for a local company and want to become a temporary resident of South Africa, studying in the country may be your best option.

There is a chance that this digital nomad visa could be launched this year, but so far no real progress has been made since the government announced its plans in April 2022. It is best to consider regional alternatives while waiting, as there is currently no clear launch date.

Digital nomads can benefit from many aspects of this visa and use South Africa as a low-cost hub to explore Africa. South Africa is one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations and a wonderful country if you are interested in the tourism offerings. This digital nomad visa is a great option if you decide that 90 days in South Africa is not enough.

 

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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money™, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money.

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