3 years ago, I overstayed my visitors visa by 10 days and got banned for 12 month and declared undesirable.

It has been 2 years since the 12-month ban has expired/finished; will I be able to re-enter South Africa on a visitors visa?

Things to take into account:

  • I overstayed with my British passport, but I currently have a Spanish one with an extra surname (both countries are permitted visa-free entry to South Africa).
  • I appealed within the 10 days of receipt of ban through a law firm that ended up pausing court proceedings because of Covid.
  • The 12-month ban was over 2 years ago, and nowhere have I found any written requirement to appeal after the ban expired.
  • I have contacted everyone and been given absolutely no response about my status.

I have a booked flight in 5 days and just recently read somewhere that I might have issues. I haven’t seen my boyfriend in 2 years. I’m very desperate; please help!

  • Did you travel to SA? Where you allowed in?
    – jcaron
    Nov 24, 2022 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


Nobody can know precisely whether you will be able to enter or not.

What we can tell you is that in most countries, even after a ban has ended, authorities will consider your case with a lot of suspicion. If you previously overstayed, you are deemed not to be trustworthy, so if they match you up with that previous issue, at the very least you will be grilled a bit more than usual.

The possible outcomes are:

  • They don't match you with that previous problem (because they don't have a way to look it up easily), and it's as if you were any other regular visitor
  • They know about the problem but don't care and think this is all water under the bridge
  • They know about the problem, ask a lot of questions, possibly send you to secondary, but let you enter in the end
  • They know about the problem and consider you are not trustworthy and refuse entry

What the probabilities of each of those is nearly impossible to guess. The fact you are using a different passport may make the first more probable than in other cases (e.g. with a big stamp in your passport), but it all depends on what records they have and how they can look them up (e.g. via biometrics).

In any case, if you are asked any questions, do not lie. Do not provide more information than they ask for, but do not omit anything they ask for. If they ask about a previous stay or overstay, do not try to pretend you're not that same person. The fact that you have a different passport from a different country does not make you a different person.

The usual advice in this kind of situation is to tell you to request a visa beforehand. Better to have a rejection while you're at home than to undergo the gruelling process of being sent to secondary, being refused entry, put in detention and sent back home.

But if you already have a law firm on your case, the best option by far is to ask them. They will have far more experience and better advice than we can give.

  • 1
    Just to add. If you voluntarily left the country after 10 days, things may not seems so bad as the answer (which for sure apply for longer overstay or with deportation). In any case, you had a ban but also a "declared undesirable" which may still apply Nov 17, 2022 at 11:23
  • I am beyond grateful for your extensive answer🙏🏼 You’re so kind, unfortunately most immigration lawyers ive spoken to are trying to charge over 12.000R just to appeal wich is ridiculous and makes me not trust their response, my previous firm had some issues with my family so thats a no-go at this point. Unfortunately Spanish citizens don’t need a visa to enter SA, we are granted a stamp visa on passport upon entry, so I’ll have to wait and see I guess, I will post the outcome once I get accepted or denied. Thanks again
    – Sbsb
    Nov 17, 2022 at 12:48
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    @Sbsb I don't know the specifics for SA, but for many other countries, even if you can enter visa-free, you can always apply for a visa. Visa-free entry usually comes with restrictions and conditions going further than just your citizenship, so when you do not fit in the box (or are not sure), you can apply for a visa.
    – jcaron
    Nov 17, 2022 at 13:18
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    @Sbsb Didn't you provide biometric info (photo, fingerprints) on your last visit? If you did they will find out who you are in a second. Even if you didn't, it's likely that using your passport data (name, date of birth...) they have a very good chance of matching you.
    – jcaron
    Nov 17, 2022 at 15:26
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    @Sbsb Also I don't know the specifics for SA (and the specific visa type you would need), but getting a visa by Tuesday seems quite unlikely. An alternative is to try to contact them to find out if they think a visa would be needed/useful, though getting in touch with consular services is usually quite difficult (generally speaking, don't know about SA).
    – jcaron
    Nov 17, 2022 at 15:33

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