South Africa Visitor’s Visa Application for Philippine Passport Holders: VFS Manila

A few years ago, I first heard about all the amazing things South Africa has to offer, but it wasn’t until early this year when I realized that it was time to go on a new adventure – this time, to a different continent.Not only was it my first time in Africa, but it was also my first time to stay in one place on vacation for nearly three weeks straight – then again, our decision to do this is for a different post. Of course, before flying to the beautiful country of South Africa…

I had to get a visa, which I obtained in 5 working days!

…and this is what this post will be all about! 

The Preparation: When & Where to Lodge Your Application

First & foremost, and I cannot stress this enough, you can only apply for your South Africa Visitor’s Visa 30 days prior to your arrival in the country. And why am I putting emphasis on this? I had to learn the hard way. Had I seen this caveat before going to the visa centre about 60 days prior to my trip, thinking they had the same time parameters as the Schengen visa, then it would have saved me the time, effort & money. So again, the earliest you can lodge your application for a South Africa Visitor’s Visa is 30 days before your arrival!

You can lodge your application in the VFS Global Visa Application Centre in Manila, with the address as follows:

Ecoplaza Building, Mezzanine Floor
Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension
Makati, Metro Manila 1231

Since this is just the visa centre though, I addressed all my documents to the official location of the Embass:

South African Embassy in Makati, Philippines
29th Floor, Yuchengco Tower, RCBC Plaza
6819 Ayala Avenue
M
akati City, Metro Manila

The Process

1) Identify the Visa Type

The first step is to ensure that you’re applying for the correct type of visa, with the Embassy enlisting several options:

  • Visits to family or friends and also for tourism purposes
  • Business purposes
  • Spouse to join a spouse who is in South Africa on a work or study permit
  • Children to join parents who are in South Africa on work or study permits
  • Fiancée/ fiancé to join his or her partner with the intention of marrying within 90 days
  • Study purposes (max stay 3-months)
  • Research
  • Conferences
  • To work in the production of a movie or show (i.e. in the entertainment industry)
  • For medical purposes (max stay 3-months)
  • Sport events

This post will focus on the visa I obtained, namely for the reason: Visits to family or friends and also for tourism purposes, which can be applied for up to a period of less than three (3) months or 90 days

2) Begin Application | Book Your Appointment

Once you start your application, you can book your appointment within their specified schedule:

  • Monday-Friday 07:30 – 15:30 (12:00nn – 1:00pm Lunch Break)

You can do this by:

  • calling their hotline: +63 2 790 4909 between 07:00 and 16:00, from Monday to Friday, or
  • send them an email via info.saph@vfshelpline.com 

Since I decided to do a walk-in application instead, as I wanted the earliest available schedule (7:00AM), I didn’t need to book an appointment. Should you want to do the same thing, just be sure to arrive a couple of minutes before 7:00AM. 

3) Prepare All Your Documents

Now, preparing your documents is always the most crucial part of the application, but if you want to see this, then it will all be worth it!

Officially, the Embassy listed their requirements in this link, but let me share with you the documents that I passed for my application, for actual basis. Very Important note: all documents must be in A4 size; they will not accept it if otherwise. 

  1. Filled-Up BI-84 Application Form Dated and Signed
  2. Photograph with South Africa Visa Specifications (35mm x 45mm)
  3. Passport – valid for at least thirty days after the planned date of return, with two unused pages
  4. Pre-Booked Return Ticket
  5. Letter of Intent with Day-to-Day Itinerary
  6. Hotel Reservation
  7. Proof of Funds / Ties to the Philippines
    • Bank Certificates & Statements
    • Property Title
    • Car Title
    • 2018 Income Tax Return (BIR Form 2316)
  8. Certificate of Employment stating Position, Tenure, and Annual Income
  9. Photocopy of Company ID
  10. Validated Pay Slips from the Company (3 Most Recent Months)
    • If self-employed, you can present your business registration for the current and previous year, together with the bank passbook used for the business in lieu of items # 8, 9, 10
  11. VFS Service Fee – ₱2,000
    • For stays of less than 30 days, you’ll only have to pay for the VFS Service Fee; the South Africa Visa Application Fee is free-of-charge in this case
  12. Optional: Passport Delivery Service
    • Should you want your passport delivered at your doorstep, you can choose to do so for only ₱370

4) On the Day of Your Appointment: Visit the VFS Application Centre

To reiterate, the Visa Application Centre is located in the address below:

Ecoplaza Building, Mezzanine Floor
Don Chino Roces Ave. Extension
Makati, Metro Manila 1231

Take note of the following reminders: 

  • Arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.
  • For walk-ins, as aforementioned, try to arrive at a couple of minutes before 7:00AM, so you can already be in-line ahead of time. 
  • No proxies are allowed; the applicant must make an appearance to lodge the application. 
  • Ensure to bring all required documents – originals and one set of photocopies.
  • Take cash with you for all required fees, as they do not accept credit cards, although there are ATMs on-site.
  • Prepare to have your fingerprints scanned and your photograph taken for the biometric collection; make sure no inks, liquids or chemicals are marking your skin to guarantee a smooth process. 
  • In any case that you miss your scheduled appointment, book a new appointment after 24 hours from your original appointment date. 
  • There may be cases wherein they will ask some questions about your trip, so be prepared to know your itinerary and other critical details, as well as proof that you will definitely come back to the Philippines – besides, their main reason for asking questions is to ensure you don’t stay there illegally. 
  • In my case though, no questions were asked, which is why I can’t add much detail to possible questions they’ll ask. 

5) The Results 

I passed my application on the 23rd of April & the visa was issued on the 29th of April, exactly 5 working days, as advertised by the Embassy! Again, it helps for all your documents to be complete and thoroughly prepared for. 


Tips & Tricks

To close this Visa Application Guide, let me leave you with a few tips & tricks to ensure your application is seamless, smooth, and of course, to increase your chances of getting approved:

1) Be truthful throughout every step of your application – I cannot stress this enough, as it is true for every visa application, no matter which Embassy you’re applying through. This way, it will also be easier for you to be aligned with whatever documents you are passing. 

2) Know your itinerary and travel details by heart. It helps a lot when they ask you for a few details about your trip on the spot; it’s good to quickly revert with the answer. 

3) As much as possible, pass the same documents that I did, as enlisted above; if you have even more proof to show for your return to the Philippines, then that’s even better!

4) Be courteous, polite, and respectful. Although sometimes, the visa agent can get a bit critical or meticulous about your application, remember that they are only doing their job, so it won’t hurt – and will even probably help – your application if you remain calm and pleasant. 

5) Don’t be nervous! There’s nothing to be scared about if you really are applying for the visa that you’ll need, so just relax and enjoy the process, till you get your visa and you’ll be able to fly to this: