South African Visa Requirements

Since the introduction of volunteers needing unabridged birth certificates and various other documentation should they be Under 18 years of age, and traveling alone, the tourism industry including the volunteer industry, have been tearing their hair out.

To put matters into perspective, it is good that visa rules apply as you would have any Tom, Dick or Harry (apologies to any volunteer with those names) crossing borders and staying put because, seemingly, the grass is greener on the other side.

I am here to warn you what you would need if you are wanting to volunteer for longer than 90 days and perhaps to take your entire Gap Year in beautiful Cape Town and are 18 years and older.

  • Plan to take time to travel to your nearest South African Embassy and prepare yourself for a head-ache, you have to apply in person!
  • Check for an interview date which is convenient for you and book it well in advance before it gets snapped up by someone other eager beaver wanting to come to South Africa.
  • Budget for the visa costs (and travel costs to get there) and budget for additional costs if at first you do not succeed!
  • Prepare for a return trip to South Africa as we will guarantee you will come back within the next 2 years after you leave here.  Check if they have visa’s which will last 5 or 10 years.

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The Visa requirements for volunteers who are volunteering in South Africa for longer than 90 days are hectic and it is always best to get all the paperwork done and out of the way, than leaving it for the last minute. Especially as you need to go to the South African Embassy in person and for some people, this means having to travel quite a distance.

We have uploaded an updated Visa form which is available on your MyTrip for download. You will also need:

  • Passport
  • 2 Passport photographs
  • AVIVA will provide you with Certified Copies of our Volunteer Coordinators, ID or passport, proof of accommodation at the AVIVA House plus a support letter.
  • 3 Months bank statements which are to be stamped by your bank, verifying your account, name and address and confirming you have enough funds to stay in the country for the length of time you are volunteering.
  • Radiology report confirming you are clear for TB (tuberculosis)
  • A medical report from your doctor confirming you are in good health and have no infectious illness.
  • Police Clearance


To apply for your visa:

  • All applicants must apply in person.
  • No fixed flight arrangements have to be made until the visa has been attained. Provisional flight tickets are required only if the stay is under 12 months.
  • Payment can be made by credit card, debit card, postal order or cash (change may not be available at the time of the application).
  • Documents issued in a foreign language must be officially translated to English by a sworn translator.

And for your information ….. you now need a Visa to enter Kenya but the good news is you are allowed to apply using a mobile phone and they accept photos taken by and uploaded with a mobile phone.


Before You Leave Home

Before setting off on my travels in years past, I would always purchased a bunch of South African souvenirs to hand out – whether it was to a taxi driver who went out of his way to be helpful, to someone who gave me directions with a smile, a waitron who provided great service – to name just a few. I made sure it was something that the recipient would not discard the moment my back was turned or it ended up in the bottom drawer in the cupboard. The feeling you get from surprising someone is so great, you end up having a really feel-good day. Fridge magnets are the most versatile, the cheapest and small enough to stuff a few in your pocket when you head out sightseeing.

So what do you bring out with you?

  • Fridge Magnets

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  • Key Rings

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Journaling Kit

Before you leave home, create a journaling kit to bring along to record all your favourite moments, favourite volunteer friends, favourite places, etc. You will have opportunity during load shedding to catch up on your journaling – yes, you will have bright LED lighting which will light up the lounge. Remember to light a fire and whilst journaling, let the calming sound of the crackling fire, soothe you. Oh yes, remember that glass of wine! Then journal the events of the day. So here are our suggestions for a journaling kit:

  • A moleskin A5 diary or any other diary which catches your eye

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  • Different coloured pens, patterned tape or glue stickstationary_620x550
  • Print out travel printables (check out Pinterest) and journaling cards
  • A set of clear acrylic travel stamps with acid-free ink pad
  • Map of Cape Town and Western Cape or the area you will be going to
  • Zip around case to carry your supplies and journal conveniently in one place


Another great idea is to stick a heavy bonded envelope into the back of your journal into which you can store brochures, tickets and other items which you would like to paste into your journal. When you get the urge to journal you won’t have to dig around looking for all your things so keeping them in one place is always a good idea. It is so easy if you are well planned before heading off to a foreign land to start your volunteering.

Happy Volunteering!

South Africa Here You Come : Travel Tip #1


You have chosen your project, you have been in touch with other volunteers and are now totally satisfied that we are the only volunteering organisation you want to deal with (grin), you book your airticket and have paid for your project – now what? Now you start the exciting part – getting the things you want to bring with you gathered into a spot in your bedroom so you do not leave anything behind.

When you printed out the Project Sheet, you would have noticed that we supplied you with an idea of what to pack?  But I have some more ideas for you,  That is how I roll.

Grid It

One of the best solutions I have come across thus far to keeping all your cords, whether it be for cell phones, laptops, camera’s, organised in one place.  And the nice thing is that it can be transferred to your purse/handbag or backpack when you go sightseeing.     

Morph Juice Pack or similar


For the most part, our volunteers tend to favour an iPhone over an Android Smartphone so a morph juice pack is a great idea for quick re-charging whilst on the go.

There are plenty other variations on the market and you are bound to find a good deal.  I personally like one that can clip onto the loop of your trousers and you can charge your cell phone whilst walking.  Another favourite of mine is the solar-powered recharger.  Cape Town has so much sunlight, you will always have the chance to recharge your cell phone or iPad or Tablet when you are not close to electricity.

Small Day Backpack

Now listen up girls.  We know you are fashion conscious but you are on holiday, you are a traveller and when sightseeing and going out to explore places, put everything in a small lightweight backpack so you can leave your hands free without compromising the safety of your possessions.  Listen to Michelle – she know’s best.

International Plug Adaptors


In South Africa we use two-pronged and three-pronged plugs with the prongs being cylindrical – not flat.  So don’t leave home without one.

iPad / iMac / Laptop / Tablet

Never travel anywhere without these useful items.  The only inconvenience is that your laptops have to be removed when going through security but fortunately this does not apply to iPad’s and a Tablet.

Camera / GoPro

A camera I would definitely bring with you.  Taking photos with your cell phone is all good and well but often the resolution is too small or too grainy and you only find out when you get home that you missed some wonderful photo opportunities.  Some photos can be so good you would like to enlarge it to frame only to find the resolution is so low that enlarging it cannot be done.  Listen to Michelle, she is always right.  Why?  I used to scrapbook and it became glaringly obvious when I wanted to enlarge a photo, how inadequate my photo skills were.  Lesson learnt!


If you have a GoPro – lucky you!  If not, do everything in your power to buy one.  One of the must-do experiences in Cape Town is to go snorkeling with seals or shark cage diving or you want to take a video of you zip-lining or paragliding or sand boarding.  I better shut up as I could write all day long.  But you get the picture, right?

So peeps, that is the first in the series of Aviva Travel Tips.  Watch this space for more.