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Department of Home Affairs Acknowledgement of Receipt – Your Golden Ticket

When an application for a temporary residence visa/permit is made you should always make sure that you are issued with an “Acknowledgement of Receipt“. This Receipt allows you to remain in South Africa for the duration that your application is being processed as well as enter and exit the Republic. – Even if the current visa/permit in your passport has expired.

You can travel without having your permit actually issued - simply keep your golden ticket: the application receipt given to you by Home Affairs when your application was submitted.

There will however be situations that might not necessarily go the way you want them to as  many are unaware of what South Africa’s Immigration laws are (sometimes even the Officials at the Department of Home Affairs). You need to make sure YOU are aware of what the rules are.

If you are not sure of what to do or say, the consequences may not work in your favour and you may be denied entry back into South Africa.

Make sure you do the following:

1. Before travelling out of SA ask your agent to have your “Acknowledgement of Receipt” stamped. The stamp will verify the date and the status of your application will be noted. This will act as verification that the application is still being processed and has not yet been finalised, also that necessary attempts were made to follow up on the status of the application.  This is mainly to avoid any issues and delays that may occur at the airport before your departure from South Africa.

2. A foreign airport/airline official might check your passport and see that your visa/permit has expired – then refuse that you board to enter South Africa. This is a big issue for many travellers returning to the Republic of South Africa. Showing them your receipt sometimes does not work, as all they see is a piece of paper, and they sometimes cannot call Home Affairs at that specific time. (If they do Home Affairs may more than likely not answer the phone). In this situation, the best is to continue explaining to them what the rules are, and also to carry any other forms of identification that tie you to South Africa.

3. Border Officials at various points may point out that your visa or permit has expired and that you must pay a fine on leaving the country. Show them your receipt. They should know what it is and this should be sufficient.

4. Depending on which country you are a citizen of, some of the above may not be an issue. Depending on the country of your passport entering South Africa will not be a problem if you are visa exempt.

Make sure to photocopy your application receipt, keep it in a safe place and make sure you have an electronic copy as well. It is literally is your golden ticket in or out of South Africa while you wait (sometimes for many months) for your permit to be issued.

By Robbie Ragless 


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