Visas, Passports & Travel Documents
It is your responsibility to check the travel documents required for the destinations you are visiting. The requirements do depend on an individual traveller’s circumstances. For passports and visas, you should check with the Embassy or High Commission of each country in your planned itinerary. It is advisable to check at the time of making your booking. And if the initial check suggests that you do not need one, just double check again about 4 weeks before travel. As government regulations and policies can change without warning.
There are also a number of websites which aggregate this information. We find the following ones useful:
Star Alliance airline consortium – offers Visa and Health information
CIBT visa service – a fee-based visa service with a free online checking tool
For all countries we feature, except South Africa, you will need a valid passport which is valid for six months in excess of the date of your planned departure from the country. For leisure travel to South Africa, the requirement is that your passport be valid for one month after your planned departure date. You should also ensure that you have a minimum of TWO blank pages in your passport. This is for each time that you pass through an international border in your itinerary. So if you go to South Africa, Botswana and Victoria Falls, you will pass through 4 international borders! This is mandatory for South Africa and Zimbabwe. And highly recommended for other African countries.
Obtaining visas at the port of entry
Several of the destinations we feature allow certain countries’ passport holders to purchase a visa on arrival. However, even where this has long been the case, the situation could change without a great deal of warning. Plus there are many nationalities to whom this concession has not been extended. So we do recommend obtaining visas in advance if you have time. You can generally deal direct with the High Commission or Embassy but it is often simpler and more reassuring to use a commercial visa service. You pay the company a service fee in addition to the consular fee. But they can then guide you through the process if you do need a visa.
Easier travel to South Africa for families
We are pleased to advise that the South African Government have abolished the unabridged birth certificate requirements for foreign visa exempt children entering South Africa. This means most families visiting South Africa will no longer need to bring consent letters or unabridged birth certificates of travelling minors.
Travelling to Namibia & Botswana with children under 18
To enter Botswana and Namibia, all children under the age of 18 years need to travel with both their passport AND an original full (or unabridged) birth certificate (inclusive of the names of both parents). All names on documents must match precisely.
There are additional requirements – including sworn affidavits – if the child is travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. You can order a full unabridged birth certificate online via GOV.UK if your child was born in the UK. If you’re travelling with copies of documents, make sure you get them certified. All documents issued in a language other than English should be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.