Applying for a visa - top 5 things you need to know

Travelling abroad can be an exciting time for any traveller, but with travelling comes the stress of organising and paper work. Visa's can be the most confusing and stressful part of travelling outside of your domestic zone. With a few tips you can easily get your visa process going without losing your marbles.

Most countries require a visa, unless you are lucky enough to be the proud owner of a foreign passport. Travelling from South African shores with only a valid South African passport can mean the requirement for a visa to enter most international destinations.

1. Research your destination and the visa requirements. Do this a good 6 months in advance, as most consulates require you to apply 90 days prior to your travels. Also check your passport, your passport must be valid for 6 months to a year after you return from your travels.
2. Check all the requirements to apply for your specific visa. Each country has its own requirements to qualify for entry. Make a list or print out the application requirements. Gather all your paperwork and ensure you have copies and originals. Some countries require you to have a set amount of cash flow in your account as well as a written letter from your employer.
3. Have everything ready? Now apply. With technology making things easier and more convenient - so have embassies. Fill in your application online and submit, or if you don't have this access you can visit the consulate and pick up an application. Submit all your documentation and re-check the amount payable to apply.
4. Once you have submitted your application you may have to wait a while for them to contact you. They will schedule an interview or ask for more requirements. This is lengthy process so be patient. Take note the visa application payment is non-refundable, which means if your visa is denied you will not get refunded.
5. Make sure you apply for the correct visa; with a variety available it can be confusing. Most travel visas are valid for 6 months where as your work or study visas can be from 1 - 4 years. Check your requirements and don't apply for a travel visa if you are working, unfortunately you can't work in a foreign country on a travel visa.

Making sure you are organised for your trip starts with your visa. While waiting for the process to complete make all your other travel arrangements. Enjoy your travels!