Visa free travel to the European Union may soon become a reality for South African passport holders. It has been reported that the Home Affairs Minister for South Africa, Malusi Gigaba has officially started talks with the European Ambassador to pave the way for visa free travel. Discussions have already addressed multiple entry visas for all South African business travellers travelling to the European Union, as well as further discussions on arrangements for tourist visitors. The minister reports that there have also been talks on long term entry visas for students and academics as well as diplomatic and work permits. The European Union has long been one of the preferred destinations for South Africans travelling for work and pleasure and this move has been welcomed throughout the country. On the 10th Anniversary of the bilateral special agreement between South Arica and the European Union Gigaba made it clear that these visa discussions were their number one priority. The new visa regulations may come into force as early as March 2017. Travel agents welcomed the news commenting: “Visas are a tedious process for South Africans passport holders, adding significant costs as well as administration to a trip or holiday,” South African travellers to the EU currently require a Schengen visa for travel to Europe and also a UK visa if they want to travel to the UK as well. The new visa regulations will save both time and money for all travellers from South African. Currently a Schengen visa costs R1023, requiring applicants to produce supporting documents including bank statements and possible attending an interview. Currently South African passport holders have visa free arrangements with 97 other countries and it is hoped that by doing away with the paperwork and costs more south Africans will chose to travel to the European Union for work and pleasure.
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