What will happen if I arrive at the border with my expired South African passport?

I can leave Australia on my current Australian passport so boarding the plane is not an issue, and South Africa can't prevent me from entering (I believe) as I was born there, but

will there be a fine? Will there be any issue?

I have my birth certificate and ID document, but am unable to replace my passport in time.

  • Worst case scenario just enter as a tourist and apply for a new passport then exit RSA or talk to immigration. No experience of RSA, but my sister did similar entering Ireland on a Canadian passport.
    – Richard
    Jul 1, 2015 at 12:30
  • 5
    Thanks Richard, but it is illegal to enter (or attempt to enter) South Africa on a foreign passport if you hold South African citizenship..
    – leo_cape
    Jul 1, 2015 at 12:39
  • 2
    I remember that now. A South African friend entered on her Irish passport so she could reclaim taxes on departure, stayed 91 days instead of 90 (due to miscounting), explained to immigration that she was South African thinking they would just drop the whole thing, but they only got more mad! Passport control will likely have seen this situation before. I would present them with both and your birth certificate. IF they are satisfied that you are a citizen, then that should be fine. But again, I don't know RSA. Good luck!
    – Richard
    Jul 1, 2015 at 12:43
  • You'll probably be hassled at the border, but eventually let in. If you want to be sure of not having trouble, you can obtain an emergency travel certificate from the South African High Commission in Australia. Jul 1, 2015 at 20:21
  • Thanks Michael - Unfortunately the emergency travel certificate will only be issued under extreme circumstances, such as death - and you need some form of evidence to this matter, which I don't have (I'm travelling for a wedding). Aside from faking / forging / hustling - I'm trying to find out a legitimate way to enter..
    – leo_cape
    Jul 2, 2015 at 5:54

1 Answer 1


I ended up flying in the day before my passport expired, and then I asked the port officer what would have happened. She told me that they would give me a fine and a warning. How much of a fine, I don't know. But at least you could enter without too harsh a consequence in an emergency.

  • I'm going to be in a very similar situation soon (because apparently SA thinks that 4 months is a reasonable amount of time for a passport renewal to take). My SA passport will expire 2-3 days after I am due to leave SA but you're supposed to have 30 days left on your passport in order to leave SA. So you left the day before yours expired and they didn't complain? I'm not sure which is riskier, going in on my British and risking a fine or going in on my SA and risk not bing allowed to leave :/
    – Dan
    Jan 5, 2018 at 1:54

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