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The UK Visa Application – A Guide for South Africans

Have you ever longed to explore the many iconic castles situated around Swansea or the scenic highlands of Inverness? The United Kingdom is filled with many treasures like this! The sovereign nation includes four distinct countries, offering you a diverse cultural experience. Whether it’s LondonEngland, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, you’ll have plenty to discover! With this guide on the UK visa application process, you’ll soon be on your way to enjoying an adventure through this incredible nation.

South African passport holders will need a visa for the UK. Fortunately, the entire UK visa application process is explained in this detailed guide. You will need to apply online with or, and finish off your UK visa application at the various UK visa application centres in South Africa. Always apply for your visa at least 1 month before you travel to allow for the processing time (and to save yourself from any stress!).

Please note this process is applicable to South African passport holders.

Types of Visas to Apply for:

There are different UK visas depending on what your holiday plans are:

Apply for the Standard Visitor Visa if you’re visiting the UK as a tourist or for business. You may extend the Standard Visitor Visa as long as the total time you spend in the UK is less than six months. If you’re receiving private medical treatment in the UK during your stay, you can apply to extend your visa for a further six months. This is only possible if you have already paid for the treatment, that you can and will pay the remaining costs of your treatment, and that you continue to meet the requirements*.

If you wish to go to the UK to get married or register a civil partnership and then head back to South Africa, you should apply for a Marriage Visitor Visa.

If you have been invited to the UK by a UK-based organisation to do specific paid work, you should apply for the Permitted Paid Engagement Visa. Take note this type of work would be without being sponsored under the points-based visa system, which is part of the 5-tier visa system (see Working in the UK).

If your child attends an independent fee-paying day school in the UK (see Studying in the UK), you can apply for the Parent of a Tier 4 Child Visa. You may extend the Parent of a Tier 4 Child Visa provided you and your child continue to meet the requirements*. You can extend this visa for 12 months at a time until your child reaches the age of 12.

If you are passing through the United Kingdom on your way to another destination, you will need a Transit Visa. There are two types:

Apply for a DATV if you’re not leaving the airport and not going through the UK border control when changing flights.

Apply for a Visa in Transit if you need to leave the UK airport. You will also need to apply for this visa if you need to go through Immigration, such as when checking in your luggage with a connecting flight.

Studying in the UK

Should you be doing a short course of study in the UK, apply for a Short-Term Study Visa. Take note that this does not apply to academic visitors (those employed by academic or higher education institutions), who would need to apply for the Standard Visitor Visa.

If you’re 16 years of age and older and a licensed Tier 4 sponsor has offered you a place on a course, you can apply for a Tier 4 (General) Student Visa.

If your child (between the ages of 4 and 17) has a place on a course at an independent school in the UK, he/she can apply for the Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa.

Working in the UK

If you’d like to work in the UK, its government uses a 5-tier visa system. The system is designed for various types of professions and numerous levels of experience. Find out which work visa is suitable for you.

* See UK Visa Requirements.


Your passport will need to be valid for at least six months after your return to South Africa.

Due to the potential increase in the volume of applications, processing can take up to 30 days.

Visa Costs:

The costs for these various UK visa types are as follows:

Standard Visitor Visa R 1530.00
Marriage Visitor Visa R 1530.00
Permitted Paid Engagement Visa R 1530.00
Parent of a Tier 4 Child Visa R 8515.00
Short-Term Study Visa R 1600.00 (up to 6 months) or R 3075.00 (to study English)
Direct Airside Transit Visa R 585.00
Visa in Transit R 1065.00

Please note that prices are subject to change.

Both and offer online payment platforms.

UK Visa Requirements:

For the Standard Visitor Visa, you will need the following documents when visiting the UK visa application centres:

For the Marriage Visitor Visa, you will need the same documents as you would for the Standard Visitor Visa, as well as the following:

For the Permitted Paid Engagement Visa, besides the documents mentioned under the Standard Visitor Visa, you will need:

If you’re established in the arts, entertainment or sports industry, you will additionally need to supply the following:

For the Parent of a Tier 4 Child Visa, besides your valid passport, you will need:

For the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa and Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa, besides your current passport, you will need to provide the following:

For the Tier 4 (General) Student Visa, you will also need to prove your knowledge of the English language, by taking and passing a secure English language test. The British Council South Africa offers approved tests in the following cities in the country:

Cape Town Upper East Side, 31 Brickfield Road, Woodstock
Johannesburg 275 Jan Smuts Avenue, Dunkeld West
Pretoria Tshwane Events Centre, Soutter Street, Pretoria
Durban Richfield Institute of Technology, 9 Palm Blvd, Umhlanga
Port Elizabeth B & E Conference, Kempston Road, Korsten

For Direct Airside Transit Visas and Visas in Transit, you will need:

Immigrating to the UK

Getting indefinite leave to remain in the UK involves varying requirements, according to certain conditions. Learn what you will need to immigrate to the UK.

Where to Apply:


The earliest you can make your UK visa application is 3 months before your date of departure.

You can apply online for a UK visa.

How to book an appointment

For the other types of visas, register on the Visa4UK service to complete your application. You will need to confirm whether you are employed, whether you have funds for your trip, and what your travel plans are. Once you have completed the application, have the application form printed to take to your nearest UK visa application centre.

Children under the age of 5 need to apply for their UK visa in person at an application centre in order to attend a biometric enrolment appointment. All applicants will need to provide a live-capture digital photograph. This is due to the current rules that govern the collection of biometric data. Parents additionally need to book an appointment at the UK visa application centre for children when applying for their UK visa. Children under the age of 5 do not need to provide fingerprints.

UK visa application centres

After applying online, you will need to register on TLScontact’s website, then make an appointment with the UK visa application centre that’s nearest to you. There are 5 in South Africa. See below for more information.

Visa Application Centre – Cape Town

Address: 2 De Smit Street, Green Point
Hours: Monday to Friday:  08h30 – 15h30

Visa Application Centre at The Atrium – Durban

Address: 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, 3rd Floor, The Atrium
Hours: Monday to Friday: 08h30 – 15h30

This visa application centre is easily reached with the MyCiTi bus service. Off-street parking is available should you visit by car. Metred taxis are also available to get you to the application centre.

Parking is available at The Atrium should you be coming by car. Taxi services are available as well.


Visa Application Centre – Port Elizabeth

Address: Ground Floor, Fairview Office Park, 66 Ring Road, Greenacres
Hours: Monday to Friday: 08h30 – 15h30

Parking is available at the Fairview Office Park and the Greenacres Shopping Centre. Taxis and Uber are all available in Port Elizabeth to get you to this application centre.


Visa Application Centre – Johannesburg

Address: 2nd – 3rd Floor, 24 Central Building, 8 Gwen Lane and Fredman Drive, Sandton
Hours: Monday to Friday: 08h30 – 15h30

The building in which the visa application centre is based offers paid underground parking.

In Johannesburg, taxis and Uber are available to get you to the visa application centre.


Visa Application Centre – Pretoria

Address: 1st Floor, Menlyn Corner, 87 Frikkie De Beer Street, Menlyn
Hours: Monday to Friday: 08h30 – 15h30

Parking is available in the Menlyn Corner complex. Taxis and Uber are available to transport you to this visa application centre.


The UK visa application centres are closed during the weekend, during South African public holidays and during the Queen’s Birthday Privilege Holiday and Spring Bank Holiday.

Collecting Your Passport

You will receive an email that will state your passport is ready for collection at the relevant UK visa application centre. When collecting your passport, provide the following documents:

Where to Print Your Documents

All documents for your UK visa application must be original. You can have them printed at the following places. Each shop ranges from within walking distance to a few minutes’ drive from the UK visa application centres:

In Cape Town:


Address: Shop 2, Sovereign Quay, 40 Somerset Road, Greenpoint 
Contact: + 27 (0) 21 421 2122 /

In Durban:

PostNet – Cowey Park

Address: 91 Problem Mkhize Road, Essenwood, Berea
Contact: + 27 (0) 31 208 0166 /

In Port Elizabeth:

PostNet Greenacres (The Bridge)

Address: Fair View, Shop G14 The Bridge Mall, Ring Road, Newton Park
Contact: + 27 (0) 41 363 3606 /

In Johannesburg:


Address: Shop G06, 2 Merchant Place, 1 Fredman Drive, Sandown
Contact: + 27 (0) 11 784 2095 /

In Pretoria:

Jetline Menlyn

Address: Shop 301, Menlyn Main Central Square, Corner of Aramist and Dallas Avenue
Contact: +27 (0) 12 348 7560 /

Frequently Asked Questions

What if your passport has expired?

If your South African passport is no longer valid, follow this guide on getting it renewed.

What if you’re just going on a short holiday?

Of course, if it’s simply a holiday you’re after, follow these steps:

  1. Apply online with and select the Standard Visitor Visa
  2. Register on the TLScontact website
  3. Make an appointment with a UK visa application centre and visit the centre to finalise your application
  4. Check your email for the confirmation of your visa
  5. Collect your passport with your required documents (mentioned above)

What constitutes a business visit?

The following business activities are allowed after a successful application for a Standard Visitor Visa:

Do you have an emergency and need to get to the UK immediately?

Should you find yourself in a situation where you need your visa within the minimal time possible, there are added value services provided by UKVI, but they come at an extra cost:

What happens if you miss your VAC appointment?

You can apply for a priority appointment if you miss your appointment, but that will cost you R 1460.00.


All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart is not affiliated with immigration authorities or their application centres and will not be liable for loss or inconvenience arising from the use of this volatile information.

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