File photo of Adrian Bergh getting his fingerprints scanned at the Biometric section at the UK visa application offices. Picture: Damaris Helwig

South Africans who suddenly have to fly to Britain can now get their last-minute visa applications fast-tracked.

The UK Border Agency in South Africa is introducing a priority visa service from today to speed up applications, which will be processed ahead of other normal visa applications.

The special priority visa service, which will cost R675 in addition to the visa application, is for UK visit visa categories only.

Globally, visit visa applications take 15 working days, although South African applicants have to wait only five working days.

The new service will cut that further, although a specific turnaround time is not guaranteed.

Only a limited number of priority visas will be sold each day, on a first come, first served basis.

The British High Commissioner in South Africa, Dame Nicola Brewer, said: “I’m delighted that we will be enhancing our already excellent UK visa services to customers in South Africa.

“We turn around most visa applications very quickly, but inevitably some people have to travel at the last minute, and this priority service will speed up the process even further.

“Along with the ability to track progress of applications online, and request SMS updates and courier returns, the priority service makes our visa operation one of the most modern and effective in South Africa.”

To apply, customers must complete and submit a UK visa application online as normal, and visit one of the UK’s visa application centres operated by VFS Global in Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth or Pretoria, where they will be able to get more details.

The new service does not guarantee that applicants using it will be successful in their visa applications, as all applicants must meet the requirements of UK immigration rules.

Go to for details about applying for a UK visa.