Cape Town - South African citizens will now have to apply for a visa to visit Colombia in South America.
Peresa Palacio, who works at the Colombian Embassy based in Pretoria, confirmed that Colombia has withdrawn visa free travel for South Africans. SA citizens will have to apply for tourist and business visas which is expected to take at least three weeks to process.
Applications can be completed online says Palacio. Click here to visit the application site and request a visa.
Palacio was unable to confirm with Traveller24 why the visa waiver has been removed for South Africans and since when the new requirements have taken effect.
Khalil Kharwa, who contacted Traveller24, says that SA's failure to offer visa free travel to Colombian citizens "for 20 years" - a time in which South Africans were able to travel visa free to Colombia - could be the reason behind the removal of the visa waiver.
Similarly when South Africa was exempted from visa-free travel to New Zealand, the Department of Home Affairs responded by implementing visa requirements for Kiwi citizens travelling to SA.
Kharwa, a South African citizen who was planning a trip to Colombia, learnt about the removal of the waiver after receiving notification from a visa relations and legal updates site called Lexology. He told Traveller24 that he will no longer visit Colombia as he does not want to incur visa costs.
Kharwa stresses the "great inconvenience" resulting from the removal of the visa waiver for South Africans. He says that Colombians also face difficulty in obtaining visas to visit SA as the South African Embassy responsible for Colombia is in Venezuela.
According to Lexology, "South African nationals are added to the list of 'restricted nationals' who are no longer visa-waived and must apply for a visa at a Colombian embassy or consulate".
The legal updates website says that South Africans "should be aware that as restricted nationals they are no longer eligible for a PIP" which is a temporary visitor permit known in Colombia as "Permiso de Ingreso y Permanencia".
In addition to tourist visa applications, business travellers must note that Colombia has four different categories of business visas - depending on the activities to be undertaken in the country.
This will impact business between SA and Colombia as "companies should anticipate longer time lines for South African nationals" says Lexology.
"Companies sending South African nationals to Colombia should factor in additional time and requirements to apply for a visa before travel and, if conducting business activities, choose the business visa appropriate for the activities of the foreign national," advises Lexology.
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