I've heard that you need to have two empty pages on your passport in order to enter through Cape Town. I see mixed messages on this though. Does anyone know the latest and greatest?
True. But not always enforced.
I've traveled to South Africa many times. I've never seen South African immigrations care about this rule. However, I did once have an awful hassle getting on a plane in Zimbabwe, flying to South Africa. They were not letting me on because I only had one empty page in my passport, even though I would not have needed a visa sticker from South Africa upon arrival (meaning the two empty pages would never have been needed in practice).
Nowadays, as a visa-free visitor, you only need one page. Stated in Timatic and the chief immigration officer at Cape Town Airport has confirmed it to me via e-mail.
If you need a visa, you need another page for that
This appears to be still true. From travel.state.gov, which is generally a reliable source:
Your passport must be valid for at least 30 days after your intended date of departure from South Africa.
South African law requires travelers to have two fully blank visa pages. Blank “endorsement” pages are not sufficient. The blank pages must be “visa” pages. All travelers should have at least two fully blank passport visa pages upon each arrival in South Africa, including following trips to neighboring countries.
Travelers without the requisite blank visa pages in their passports will be refused entry into South Africa, fined, and returned to their point of origin at their own expense.
Another source is from gov.uk, less strongly worded:
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa.
Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages when you present it at immigration to enter or leave South Africa.
This post is super late, but I am going to write this in case it helps anyone in the future. If you don't want to read this much, here are the main points:
--You need one blank visa page to enter South Africa (June 2019)
--You need three blank visa pages to enter Zimbabwe
--South African Airways will check your passport before you board your inbound flight to South Africa to make sure you have a blank page.
--If you enter with an almost-full passport, you are at the mercy of immigration officials.
--If you enter with an almost-full passport, you can probably talk your way through situations, but you will be stressed out for a good chunk of the trip.
I just returned from a trip to both Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe) and South Africa. I had only one blank visa page in my US passport. I had not realized that the last three pages (endorsements) did not count. I didn't have much choice as I was coming from France and the UK and was in the middle of the trip. It was nerve-wracking, to say the least.
British Airways did not check my passport from LHR to Johannesburg. When I entered South Africa, the lady at immigration was not happy. She told me not to have a full passport as it is not allowed. She did grudgingly stamp my entrance stamp on another page that was sort of full with visa stamps. I had to take a flight immediately to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The immigration officer there stamped my exit stamp on another page without saying anything to me.
When I entered Zimbabwe, I had to get the full page Kaza Univisa. The immigration officer told me that you need to have at least two blank pages and that three is strongly recommended. I pleaded with him with a long line of people behind me and was able to convince him to apply the visa to a page with only two visa stamps on it. Illegal, yes, but I did not want to be deported back to South Africa.
I understand why they require so many blank pages there. They stamped my entrance stamp on the visa. The next day, I went to Zambia for a half-day and needed an exit stamp from Zimbabwe, an entrance stamp for Zambia, an exit stamp for Zambia, and an entrance stamp for Zimbabwe all in one day. I ended up canceling a planned day trip to Botswana because my passport was getting REALLY full with stamps.
When I checked in for my return to South Africa flight on South African Airways, they checked my passport and told me to make sure that my exit stamp for Zimbabwe wasn't put on the blank page. And they checked again when I boarded the plane. As it happened, my entrance stamp and subsequent exit stamp were put on other pages, so I still had a blank page after all that fuss!
All that said, I had the trip of a lifetime there, and I would highly highly highly recommend both South Africa and Zimbabwe/Zambia to anyone considering it!
This is no longer true and I wish I had known. Realizing I only had 1 blank visa page, I chose to skip our Zimbabwe portion of the trip and my husband proceeded without me and I decided to enter South Africa because I thought I would need to use my blank visa page for that entry. False! All they did was stamp my passport (on top of previous stamps, mind you, like every other country - and my 1 blank visa page remained blank.) So I went through a huge hassle and skipped Victoria Falls for no reason. The only people who seemed interested in my blank visa pages were the staff at SAA in the check in counter at JFK. Someone should update these message boards and, more importantly, the travel.state.gov site.