UK announces ‘relaxed’ visa regulations
Posted on November 15, 2014
Cape Town – South Africans in possession of an Australian, Canadian, New Zealand and US visa will no longer be required to have a transit visa to travel through the UK if they arrive and depart on the same day.
The British High Commission announced the “relaxed” regulation on Tuesday, which would mean that from the start of next month, South Africans as well as Swaziland and Lesotho nationals will be exempt from requiring a travel transit visa to the UK.
British High Commission spokesman Hooman Nouruzi said following a global travel review, the commission had found the visas of the listed countries to be compliant with UK visa regulations.
“Following a global review, (the UK) is satisfied that South Africans who have an existing visa with those countries may transit through the UK to anywhere in the world without obtaining a direct airside transit visa. We hope this would encourage more people to travel through the UK,” Nouruzi said.
Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said there was little to celebrate as UK visitors could stay for up to 90 days in South Africa without obtaining a visa, while South Africans needed a visa if they wished to stay the night in London.
“There is not much to celebrate. “UK citizens still visit South Africa without having a visa, but (South Africans) need a visa to visit the UK, which is not cheap,” Tshwete said.
Natalia Rosa, spokeswoman for the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata), said when the requirement for South Africans to have a transit visa was implemented three years ago, a significant number of people requested alternative flight routes. Asata had been in lengthy discussions with the UK consulate about the issue. In October, the direct airside transit visa fee set a South African back about R536.
Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde welcomed the new policy and said South Africa needed to feed off of the strides the UK was making regarding visa regulations.