Studying in South Africa: study permits

Are you an international student considering enrolling at a South African educational institution? Here's information on study permit requirements and application procedures, and the answers to some frequently asked questions.
    Please take note: This information is meant to serve as a guide only. Requirements for studying in South Africa are subject to change, and each application is treated as an individual case. Always make inquiries before travelling to South Africa.

Where can I make inquiries about study permits?
You should make inquiries at your nearest South African office abroad or directly to:
    Department of Home Affairs
    Subdirectorate: Temporary Residence
    Private Bag X114
    Pretoria 0001
    South Africa
    Telephone: +27(0) 12 314 8911
    Fax: +27(0) 12 328 3908

Info & inquiries on the Internet
Who needs a study permit?
If you are an international student intending to study in South Africa - whether at a primary, secondary or tertiary educational institution - you must first apply for and be granted a study permit. A South African educational institution cannot register an international student until a valid study permit has been produced.

Apply for your study permit before leaving for SA
Apply for your study permit, and await the outcome of your application, BEFORE departing for South Africa. The fact that you've been accepted by a South African educational institution does not guarantee that you'll be issued with a study permit. And you cannot enter South Africa on a visitor's visa and then apply for a study permit. You should also take note of the Basic requirements for entering South Africa by clicking here.

How to apply for your study permit
Once you have confirmed your acceptance of a formal offer from a South African educational institution, you should collect a study permit application form from your nearest South African office abroad and complete and return the form to the same office. In general, your application should be accompanied by:
  • A valid passport.
  • A letter formally offering you a place of study at the relevant institution.
  • Proof that you are financially able to pay your tuition fees and have adequate means of support.
  • A medical certificate and proof medical insurance cover usable in South Africa.
  • A repatriation guarantee. Unless a South African sponsoring body, citizen or permanent resident provides a written undertaking as specified in the application form, you will be required to lodge a cash deposit or bank guarantee equivalent to the costs of transportation to your home country in case you fail to comply with your permit conditions. However, if your course is not longer than a year, or you will be attending a religious institution, you will be exempt from this requirement, and need only possess a valid return/onward ticket.
  • A written undertaking that you will return to your country of residence/origin after completing your studies.
  • The relevant permit fee - see the relevant Home Affairs web page.
Permit application forms online
Access/download all the relevant application forms online (PDF files requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader, free download available).

How long will it take for my application to be processed?
It normally takes about six weeks for a study permit to be processed. You are advised, however, to make your application as early as possible.

When should I renew my study permit?
Study permits are granted for periods of a year at a time only, and for specific fields of study. You should therefore renew your permit annually at your nearest Home Affairs office in South Africa. You should also, depending on what your original visa stipulates, apply for a new permit if you plan to change your course of study or institution.
  • Access/download your permit extension/alteration application form online (PDF file requiring Adobe Acrobat Reader, automatic free download): Select the appropriate form here.
I'll be back soon - will I need a re-entry visa?
If you are in South Africa on a valid study permit, and you leave the country temporarily, you will NOT need a re-entry visa, provided your permit does not expire while you are out of the country. This holds even though your permit may have "single entry" endorsed on it.

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