How to apply for the Dubai visa for South Africans

Burj al Arab and wadi at Madinat JumeiraWith 5 daily direct flights to Dubai from South Africa, its still an exceptionally popular destination for us to travel to, but what has always been an issue is how to apply for the Dubai visa as a South African. You will need a sponsor to apply which can be an airline, hotel, tour operator or friend/family member. Lets make this simple with these tips to making your application easier:

Do the visa via Emirates and make your application easier

If you can resist the urge to buy the cheaper ticket – via another country or airline – buy the Emirates ticket on the direct flight, applying for the Dubai visa is much simpler that way. Emirates is the only airline which can sponsor a Dubai visa application. Once your flight is booked, ask your travel agent for the Emirates reference (vendor locator) and proceed to the Emirates visa application site to complete the process. Cost for South African application: 96hour visa: R560; 30 day R705. You will still need to show official confirmation of accommodation for the duration of your stay upon entering Dubai.

Alternatively, good old VFS (Visa Forwarding Service) do the visa application manually. The price will be the same as through the Emirates site, but you’ll apply through the South African offices.

Not flying with Emirates? Still need a Dubai visa?

Not all hope is lost, do the visa through your accommodation organiser. Use a reputable hotel and email them first to ensure they act as a sponsor when applying for the visa before you book and pay – they may ask an extra security deposit. Better yet, book with a reputable travel agent who uses major tour operators who can book you the correct hotels or packages which will include visas, making it much more hassle free.

You can also apply for the visa using a friend of family member as a sponsor. They will need to contact +971 4 398 0000 in Dubai or visit the DNRD’s government site for info on how to organise this. They are limited to a number of sponsorships they can take on per year and there is a minimum salary requirement. Officially only United Arab Emirates citizens can sponsor visas for friends, however if  the sponsor is a permanent resident, the DNRD will consider visa applications matching these requirements.

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Our Readers Comments

  1. Hi Nick. I have booked a flight via Ethiad to Thailand via Abu Dhabi. I scheduled the flight to have 2 stopovers.Is this possible and what Visa do I need to allow me to do this. The duration between the 2 entries is 10 days.

  2. Hi Nick,

    We are stopping over in the UAE for 3 nights in December. We booked our flights through Etihad. I initially thought we could get the visa through them but they only issue a visa for you if you stay over in Abu Dhabi. We will spend 1 night in Abu Dhabi and 2 nights in Dubai. How would I go about getting the correct visa?


    • how long does it take process everything.

    • Its better if u would let ur visa issued by any Tourism agency…

    • We are on a South African passport and arriving in Dubai by cruise liner from Singapore.Need to get from boat to airport tofly on the same day to Johannesburg.Have not booked flight yet.What do we do to get visa? Thanks

  3. We are planning a trip to Rome via Dubai from Johannesburg , on the way back we plan to stay over in Dubai for 2 nights. I am a South African, but have an Israeli stamp in my passport . Will this prevent me from getting a visa to visit Dubai for 2 nights?

    • yes. Isra. are not eligible to get UAE visa. Even if your passport contains Isra. stamp, still u wont get visa

    • Israeli stamp (and even Israeli passports) are not an issue. Lots of misinformation online about it online due to politics.

  4. Hi Nick
    My mom(South African)is visiting me in Dubai.She is flying via emirates.We would liketo extend her visa…what’s the procedure?

  5. Hi Nick

    Im hoping you can help! I am south african, living in the UK and currently hold a Tier 1 visa (hsmp). I am planning on travelling to dubai for a week at the end of November this year. I have already booked my flight with British airways. I was under the impression that i could just acquire a dubai visa at the dubai airport. I am now reading up on different websites, seem to notice that this cant be true. Please let me know if you know anything about a South african living in the UK with a Visa wanting to travel on holiday to dubai for 9 days.

    • pse let me kwow as soon as posible.

  6. Hi, my daughter works in Abu Dhabi and her friend wants to visit her but they say he wont get a visa because he is 20 years old, you have to be 23 , is that true.

    • Yes, its abs. correct.

  7. Hi there, what’s the longest a hotel in dubai can sponsor you for? I want to stay longer than 30 days.

    • You can stay in UAE for 60 days. This visa will be applied by a Tourism co.

  8. Hi Nick
    My son (age 26) and daughter (17) are planning atrip to London with a stop over on Dubai. I am booking through Emirates. I haven’t applied for their visas yet but apparently a female under a certain age cannot travel with out her parents. Is this still true? What about travelling with her brother?

  9. Hi Nick, My little sister has been an employee of Fly Emirates for a year now and I would like to go visit her for max 5days. Would she be regarded my sponsor when I visit her as I will be staying at her place for the duration? Also since I am going to visit her for site seeing and not really going to be spending or shopping, how much do you think would be a convenient minimum amount of money to have before I leave apart from the flight costs?

    • is it safe to carry cash with me?

  10. Hi Nick

    Hope you can help me.

    I am in Pakistan at this moment but will need a day visa for Dubai airport as i want to an old friend but i will have to go through security and meet her at a coffe shop at the airport. i will only be in Dubia for 5 hours befor leaving for London.I am not leaving the Airport but the problem is me getting through security.

    and I was wondering if you could help with the daily visa costs?

    Thank you for the help

  11. Hi Nick,
    i need to visit Dubai next month for 13 t0 18 february what is the process. i have SA ID book and SA passport. help

    • Hi Patric,

      The easiest way to get a Dubai visa is when you book a flight with Emirates as they then sponsor your visa. Alternatively you can contact the hotel you are staying at and they should be able to act as a sponsor.

  12. My family of 4 adults are flying to Dubai for a week in March ,we have book our tickets through a travel agent but accommadation on our own through our Timeshare . The travel normally does our visas for us but not this time . The price they are charging is ridiculous . Please can you tell me what’s the recommended prices are for a week in Dubai .
    Many thanx

    • Hi Vimla,

      The cost of 30 day visa for Dubai at present should be R705 per person.

  13. Hi… I’m a South African with permanent residency in the UK and wish to go to Dubai for a long weekend… What visa would I need? Can I get it on arrival? Thanks

    • Hi Bevan,

      As a South African passport holder you will need to apply for a Dubai visa in advance. There are options for 96 hour visas which are a bit cheaper and might be sufficient for a long weekend.

  14. Hi there,

    There are many travel agents offering Dubai visa services online and one of them is Gulf Sun Tours that I have used repeatedly for my visa applications and some friends and have been very friendly and quick turn around time for Dubai visas and would like to share this with you and might help some having problems and being cheated with some spammers on the internet.

  15. Good day,

    I Would like To go and visit my friend in Dubai round about April this year. I will book through Emirates as I can then fly directly out of Durban. How do I go about getting a visa? I will spend max 10 days there.

    Many thanks

  16. I’am South African Living in the UK for the past 8 years, planning on visiting SA later this year. Iam still on my SA passport, do I need a visa to transit via Dubai.

    Many thanks
    Raik Henke

    • Hi Raik,

      If you are travelling on a South African passport you do not need a transit visa for Dubai.

  17. We are travelling to Dubai in April using Emirates…3 nights, then in Saudi for 5 nights flying on flydubai.
    Return on flydubai back to Dubai and in transit for 12 hours before flying back to CPT on Emirates.
    What type of Dubai visa do we need? getting conflicting info from VFS and Emirates.
    96 hour visa? 30 day visa, Multiple Entry or single entry?

    • Hi Parker,

      VFS are the agency with sole responsible for issuing visas for the UAE so they should be able to offer you accurate information. However as the information is conflicting with that provided by Emirates (who should also be able to provide accurate information) then I suggest that you contact the UAE embassy directly to clarify:


      Good luck and please let us know what they say.

  18. Thanks, will phone embassy directly.
    btw, getting conflicting info even from VFS…one day they say 96 hour visa, next day they say its 30 day visa required. Emirates says 96 hour but they not 100% sure.

  19. I received an email from DVPC who say they are unable to do my application on line because I purchased a ticket via Emirates online to Dubai but with a return ticket from Singapore via Dubai, the reason for this is that I am joining a Cruise Ship which will sail from Dubai to Singapore. My Cruise Ship booking was NOT done via an agency as it was done privately by a friend who works on the ship. I have a hotel confirmation for one night in Dubai, my question is, who can help me then with the Visa application? I have an Emirates ticket but now that seems of no help (and all this was done after I inquired through the Embassy here), so you can see the conflicting information I got….Will a travel agent help me as I don’t mind paying them then for it? Thanx alot regards Vicky

  20. Good Day

    I have a question regarding a visa for parents visiting from SA. My husband works in Dubai but I do not..we do however have residency. He is therefore the official working sponsor and I am ‘not allowed to work’. My father, stepmom and sister wants to visit in July (4 days stop returning from a London vacation going back to SA). They have booked Emirates. I know you say that they will need ‘official confirmation’ of where they will stay. THey will be staying with us though at our residence. Is this allowed?? Can my husband sponsor my parents for a visit?? He is Norwegian.


  21. Hi Guys ,

    I have been travelling to Dubai from South Africa and I have been applying dubai visa through for last couple of years and these guys provide excellent service and turn around time and are member of mohamed bin rashid establishment for young business leaders and a registered company in Dubai under Gulf Sun Travel and Tourism name and I would recommend their services to anyone and to avoid being cheated by visa agents in Dubai and all around the world through internet.

  22. Dear Travelstart,Im travelling to London with Emirates via Dubai. The return flight has a long overhaul/stopover of close to 5 hours? Will i be allowed to get out of the airport for a quick tour of the city before my connection flight or do i need to apply for the 96hours visa? Thanks

  23. Hi i will be in transit for 9 hours, will i be able to buy a day visit visa from the airport and is it a long proscess …how long does it take at the dubai airport and how much does it cost there for the visa as i don’t want to wait for 9 hours for my connecting flight to the UK but rather visit the city…thnx

  24. I am being asked for R750
    For a 96 hr visa …, can you help me verify your prices please

  25. Hi, I am travelling to Abu Dubai for the Grand Prix 1- 4Novemeber then to Thailand for 10 nights.I booked with Qatar Airlines and they not able to assist because I am not immediately flying back to South Africa.
    Which is the best option for me to book visa from South Africa to UAE?

    Thanks S

  26. Hi there we’re planning a trip to new Zealand next year with emirates. On going were are having a stopover at Dubai for 3 hours, but when we return we will be there for about 23 hours. Can one visit Dubai area for that time and apply for the 96 hour visa?

  27. Hi Nick,
    A group of our friends ages ranging from 24 – 28 Are travelling to Dubai on Air Ethiopia. We are finding it next to impossible to get someone Legit who can help us. We have already booked accommodation as-well, but the Refundable Deposit that they are asking per person is crazy so we cant do the visas through them.Also there is all sorts of Terms & Conditions about the girls ages. Is that really such a big problem? ANY help will be appreciated please?

  28. Hi there

    im moving to dubai shrtly for work. would like to know what all i need to get in to the UAE with out any problams?


  29. I booked a flight to Thailand through Ethihad, I have to connect at Abu Dhabi to Thailand but i will wait for 12 hours for the next flight to Thailand from Abu Dhabi , do i need a visa even if i will be at the airport the whole time?

  30. Hello I m hoping to come there to greet my friend.thanks

  31. I booked a package through British Airways (BA). One of our travelers requires a sponser as from south africa. The hotel do a Visa service, but now they said only if booked directly with them, and BA dont offer the visa service. How else can we get a visa for her if we dont know locals who can Sponser her?

  32. I’m going to visit a friend in Dubai in may and I would like to know what I need,and do I apply for a visa.

  33. Good day, I wonder if you can help me. I have accepted a teaching position at a school in Dubai and the school is sponsoring my visa. My husband, however, does not have a job yet and has to apply for a tourist visa at first which the school said would be changed to a different long-term visa once my 3 month probation is over. How would he go about getting a visa for our first 3 months. We are South African passport holders. Thank you!

      I find myself in a similar situation as yours, been offered a job, but need to get visas for my wife and kids . what procedure do I follow. If you have come right wit your process.

  34. Hi Nick, I am a south african citizen . I am currently working in saudi. My company got a job in dubai for 1 month. What should I do for a visa to go to dubai from here.I have 2 weeks to sort this out. Please help. Thanks.

  35. Pls I need 30 days visa to Dubai.

  36. how can l apply for a visa m living in sa but m a Zimbabwean.please help.

  37. I need to go to my company head office for ten days training I’m a south african how do I get a visa urgently please help

  38. Hi, I’m from South Africa with a South African Passport, we will have a layover on Abu Dhabi for 12 hrs, will we require a visa for Abu Dhabi ?

  39. Hello Heidi, you do not need a transit Visa for Abu Dhabi for less than 24 hours. You will only be able to stay in the airport. If you wish to go into the city, you will need to apply for a Visa. You can contact one of our agents for more information – please call us on 0861 878 278 / +2721-468-4300

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