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Getting your visa

To study in South Africa as an international student, you need to apply for a study visa at the South African consulate or embassy in your country of residence. The regulations do not allow students to enter the country on a tourist visa and then change the status of the visa from within South Africa. We recommend that you prepare the supporting documents and apply for your study visa as early as possible because the police clearance could take six to eight weeks to obtain. The information below serves as a guideline only.

Getting your visa


Visa application checklist

Please contact your nearest South African consulate or embassy to verify these requirements as they may vary according to consulate, or change altogether.

  • A passport (which should be valid for a period exceeding the length of your proposed time abroad)
  • A letter of acceptance from UCT to the issuing authorities
  • A recent, original police clearance certificate and/or FBI clearance certificate, issued by the police or security authority in each country where you have lived for 12 months or longer after the age of 18 years
  • Proof of medical cover with a medical scheme registered in/and/or recognised in South Africa. You may select any medical aid scheme (NOT medical insurance) registered in South Africa and shown as “open” on this list by the council of medical schemes.  We recommend the following because they provide the best cover for international students and offer the best value for money:

For more information comparing the two medical aid scheme options, please see the Medical Aid Cover Guide 2020

  • Proof of sufficient funds to cover all your costs in Cape Town (living costs and fees)
  • A medical report
  • A radiological report (chest X-ray)
  • Money for the cost of a study visa or proof of payment for the visa application.

As of 1 January 2018, all international students will only be able to register for their UCT courses if they are in possession of medical insurance from a South African Medical aid scheme, according to the Medical Aids Act 13 of 2002.


Quick visa tips

  •  When you first contact your consulate or embassy, check that you can send the necessary documentation by express mail.
  • You may want to consider providing the South African Consulate with a pre-paid mailer for them to return your documents in the same fashion. This will speed up the process and allow you to trace the mail on your end.
  • When you receive your passport back from the consulate, check that your study visa has been correctly printed. It must include the following:
    • Your full name, spelt according to the spelling on your passport photo page.  
    • It must specifically state for study at the University of Cape Town.
    • The expiry date must be for after the end of your semester of study at UCT.
    • The South African Coat of Arms must also be printed on the permit/visa.  
  • When you enter South Africa, check the stamp entered into your passport. Be sure that the dates on the entry stamp match the dates covering your study visa period. It is easier to query this immediately at the port of entry than to follow up at a later date with the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria (nearly 2 000kms away from Cape Town).