The Department of Home Affairs has started with the testing and piloting of the electronic visa application system Picture: Matthews Baloyi/ African News Agency (ANA)

Good news for travellers. 

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has started with the testing and piloting of the electronic visa application system, the e-Visa.

The DHA revealed their plans at a briefing on Sunday, December 1. 

This follows President Cyril Ramaphosa's promise at this year’s Africa Travel Indaba in Durban, to introduce a world-class e-visa system and reduce the red tape that travellers face when visiting the country.

Ramaphosa said at the time: “We must reduce the onerous and often unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that tourists who want to visit our countries face. This requires us to streamline our tourist visa regimes.

“As South Africa, we are committed to working towards the African Union’s goal of visa-free travel and a single African air transport market. We are in the process of radically overhauling our visa dispensation for the rest of the world and introducing a world-class e-visa system. The challenges are going to be ironed out,” he said. 

DHA revealed in a statement that the decision to introduce the e-Visa provided many benefits. “It is reliable, client-friendly and convenient for visa applicants, airlines, trade partners and Home Affairs officials.

“Once fully rolled-out, prospective visitors will apply online for visas, at home, office or place of work. It will lessen administrative burdens, including those involved in receiving applicants at visa offices, printing visa stickers and returning passports to applicants.”

It also revealed that the department was testing the new system with Kenya. 

“As part of the pilot, a team of DHA immigration and IT officials visited Kenya. This team is scheduled to return to Kenya next week, on December 9, 2019. The first Kenyan tourist who applied for the visitors’ visa on the new e-Visa system arrived yesterday (Saturday) afternoon and more are expected this week as part of the pilot.

“We are continuously monitoring this pilot process to ensure that user experience is not compromised,” the statement revealed. 

China, India and Nigeria will be included to the pilot early next year, which will run until March 2020.