South Africa Retirement visa

Learn about  South Africa retirement visa, the required documents, and the best places for retirees

Retirement signifies a significant life change, and South Africa, renowned for its diverse landscapes and wildlife, stands out as an ideal destination to embrace this new chapter. With pristine beaches, lush forests, arid deserts, and expansive savannahs, South Africa provides a haven for nature enthusiasts and retirees alike.

Acquiring a South Africa Retirement Visa

If you aspire to retire in South Africa, obtaining a South Africa Retirement Visa is the first step towards realizing your dream retirement.

The Retired Person’s Visa in South Africa is a permit issued to retirees who wish to live in South Africa for limited or seasonal periods during the validity of the permit. To qualify for this visa, an applicant must receive at least R37,000 per month from a pension fund or an irrevocable retirement annuity, or have a net worth or a combination of assets realizing a minimum monthly income of R37,000. The applicant must also provide a duly completed application form, a valid passport, proof of hotel accommodation or a letter of invitation from a host in South Africa, proof of the host’s legal status in South Africa, a yellow fever vaccination certificate if traveling from or transiting through a yellow fever endemic area, and proof of financial means in the form of a pension, an irrevocable retirement annuity, or a net worth providing an income of at least R37,000 per month. Applications for a Retired Person’s Visa can be made for a period of 4 years, and after the 4 years, they can be further extended by making an application to Home Affairs and proving that the criteria are still being met.

Retirement Visa Options in South Africa

South Africa extends two retirement visa options for those seeking to embrace retirement in its scenic landscapes:

Retired Person Visa

The Retired Person Visa, a temporary residence permit, proves to be the preferred choice among retirees. It does not impose an age restriction, making it accessible to all, provided you meet the financial prerequisites.

Independent Financial Person’s Permit

This permit, however, stands as a pathway to permanent residence. It grants the freedom to work, study, or establish your own business in South Africa. To qualify, you must demonstrate a net worth of at least R12,000,000 (approximately $698,898) and pay a one-time fee of R120,000 (around $7,021) to the Department of Home Affairs upon receiving the permit.

Eligibility for a South Africa Retirement Visa

To qualify for a South African Retirement Visa, you must substantiate a monthly passive income of R37,000 (about $2,129) from a pension fund or an irrevocable retirement annuity. Alternatively, you can showcase a net worth or a combination of assets equivalent to this monthly income.

Essential Documents for a South Africa Retirement Visa

When applying for a South Africa Retirement Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • South Africa Retirement Visa Application Form: Complete the form with accurate information and affix your signature before submission.
  • Valid Passport: Ensure your passport is valid at the time of application and contains at least one blank visa page.
  • Photographs: Include two recent passport-size photographs.
  • Proof of Medical Insurance Coverage: A document confirming your medical coverage.
  • Photocopy of Valid Residence Permit: If applicable.
  • Proof of Medical Cover: Demonstrate that you have medical coverage within South Africa.
  • Medical Report: Provide a medical and radiology report attesting to your good health.
  • Police Clearance: Present a police certificate from all countries you’ve resided in for 12 months or more since reaching the age of 18, confirming your clean criminal record.
  • Proof of Visa Fee Payment: Documentation substantiating payment of the required visa fee.
  • Vaccination Certificate: Only required if you have traveled through or intend to visit areas within the yellow fever belt, where the virus poses a risk.#

Looking for assistance with immigration paperwork? Get expert help from professionals specializing in immigration services.

Applying for a South Africa Retirement Visa

As of May 2014, South Africa Retirement Visa applications must be made in person at any regional office of the Department of Home Affairs or the nearest South African embassy, mission, or consulate abroad. The application process involves these steps:

  • Eligibility Check: Ensure you meet the criteria for a retirement visa.
  • Document Compilation: Before visiting South African diplomatic missions, assemble all necessary documents for your visa application. Refer to the complete checklist under the “Documents Required for a South Africa Retirement Visa” section.
  • Submission: Attach your documents to the application form and submit them to the relevant authorities. If South African diplomatic representation is absent in your country, you can apply at any South African diplomatic representation in a neighboring nation.
  • Waiting Period: Foreign offices of the Department of Home Affairs process and finalize visa applications.

Note: If you enter South Africa on a visitor’s visa, you cannot apply for a retirement visa. In such cases, you must return to your country of residence to apply for a South African Retirement Visa, as South Africa does not permit applications involving a change of status while within the country.

Cost of a South Africa Retirement Visa

As of April 2022, the tariff for a South Africa Retirement Visa stands at R425 (approximately $28).

Duration of a South Africa Retirement Visa

A South Africa Retirement Visa is typically issued for up to four years, with the possibility of extension. To extend the visa within South Africa, apply online at the VFS center 60 days before your visa expires.

Including Dependents in Your South Africa Retirement Visa

You can indeed bring your spouse and children along when applying for a South Africa Retirement Visa. They may also be issued an appropriate visa.

Working in South Africa With a Retirement Visa

Your ability to work in South Africa under a retirement visa hinges on the specific visa type. For instance:

  • A Retired Person Visa does not grant authorization to work or derive income from employment.
  • To engage in work or entrepreneurship, an Independent Financial Person’s Permit is requisite.

Healthcare for Retirees in South Africa

South Africa boasts a dual-tier healthcare system, with the public sector serving the majority of the population. While the South African Constitution guarantees access to medical services for all, including expatriates, healthcare services are not provided free of charge.

The public healthcare sector employs the Uniform Patient Fee Schedule (UPFS) to categorize fees according to patients’ circumstances and medical treatments. Although the medical staff is trained in the public sector, over 70% work in the private healthcare sector. South Africa houses over 400 public hospitals and 200 private hospitals, offering residents various healthcare options.

Costs for the public health sector typically average around $150 per person annually. In contrast, private healthcare costs more, averaging around $1,500 per person yearly.

Approximately 20% of the population holds private health insurance.

Financial Considerations for Retiring in South Africa

South Africa’s reputation as an expensive destination is often misconstrued. With a monthly budget ranging from $1,000 to $1,500, retirees can lead comfortable lives. Rent constitutes a significant expense, particularly in city centers, where monthly rates can range from $300 to $1,800 for one-bedroom apartments. In contrast, suburban areas offer more affordable options, with monthly rents spanning $300 to $1,300.

Estimated monthly living costs for a single individual, excluding rent, hover around $590.

Average Living Costs in South Africa:


Monthly Cost

Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre


Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Centre


Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Centre


Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Centre



  • Milk: $1.08
  • Rice: $1.50
  • Eggs: $2.01
  • Tomato: $1.48
  • Potato: $1.21
  • Apples (kg): $1.60

UTILITIES (Monthly Costs for an 85m2 Apartment):

  • Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage: $115

Why Choose South Africa for Retirement?

Consider these compelling reasons that make South Africa an attractive retirement destination:

  • Healthcare: Access to quality healthcare, although not free, provides peace of mind.
  • Tax Agreements: South Africa’s tax treaties prevent double taxation on income for expatriates retiring in the country.
  • Affordability: Low living costs beyond accommodation enable a comfortable retirement.
  • Multilingual Environment: With 11 official languages, including English, communication is accessible and friendships are easy to foster.
  • Climate: Enjoy a warm climate, abundant sunshine, and stunning beaches.
  • Diverse Landscapes: From vibrant cities to breathtaking landscapes, South Africa offers diverse experiences.

What are the Benefits of a South African Retirement Visa

Retiring in South Africa under a Retirement Visa offers various benefits that attract many retirees to the country. Here are some key advantages:

1. Quality Lifestyle: South Africa provides retirees with a high-quality lifestyle, offering a vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, warm weather, and beautiful beaches.

2. Cost of Living: Retiring in South Africa can be cost-effective for foreigners due to the favorable exchange rates, making it an attractive option for those looking to stretch their retirement funds.

3. Climate: The country’s pleasant climate is a significant draw for retirees seeking a warm and enjoyable environment to spend their retirement years.

4. Ease of Travel: With updated flight paths and improved travel infrastructure, traveling to and from South Africa has become more convenient, allowing retirees easy access to explore the country and visit loved ones.

5. Healthcare Options: While public healthcare in South Africa may have challenges, private hospitals offer excellent healthcare services, especially in major urban areas, providing retirees with access to quality medical care.

6. Immigration Opportunities: The Retirement Visa serves as a means of immigration for individuals who wish to spend their retirement years in South Africa, offering both temporary and permanent residency options.

Retiring in South Africa can provide a fulfilling lifestyle with diverse experiences, favorable living conditions, and opportunities for relaxation and exploration in a beautiful setting.


Top Retirement Spots in South Africa

With its high quality of life, South Africa boasts a range of appealing retirement locations:

Cape Town

The coastal city of Cape Town is a haven for adventure seekers. Embrace a blend of culture, mountains, and wildlife, though costs can be higher.


Known for superb surf spots, Durban’s humid subtropical climate beckons sporting enthusiasts. Pristine beaches and a vibrant food market add to its charm.


Pretoria, filled with jacaranda trees and natural beauty, is an affordable alternative. Enjoy diverse cultures and cuisine.

Port Elizabeth

Affordable and serene, Port Elizabeth’s pristine beaches and wildlife offer a tranquil retirement.


Johannesburg, the country’s largest city, boasts green spaces, cultural attractions, and a love for sports.

For a rich and fulfilling retirement, South Africa’s allure is undeniable. Its landscapes, affordability, and diverse experiences beckon retirees to embark on a new journey amidst its captivating beauty.