Whether you’re coming to Botswana on business, to work or as a visitor, non-residents are expected to have applied for and secured the appropriate visa. All expats moving to Botswana for an extended amount of time are urged to apply for the necessary work and residency permits before travelling to Botswana.
Non-residents from Commonwealth countries are not required to obtain a visa to visit Botswana, except in cases where the Minister of Labour and Home Affairs has directed otherwise. Botswana has also signed visa abolition agreements with a number of countries, whose nationals do not need a visa to get into Botswana as below:
- All EC (European Community) countries
- USA, South Africa, Scandinavian countries
- Most Commonwealth countries with the exception of Ghana, Nigeria, Bangladesh, India Pakistan and Sri Lanka – whose citizens do need visas.
Requirements for visa application:
While it’s not too dissimilar, the application process for a tourist visa for Botswana is not as a straightforward as it is for many other destinations. Travellers are therefore encouraged to familiarise themselves with Botswana visa regulations in advance and apply prior to travelling.
The 90-day tourist visa for Botswana cannot be extended and travellers are not allowed to remain in Botswana for longer than 90 days within a one-year period.
Nationals of other countries must apply for a tourist visa with the Botswana embassy or consulate within their country of residence. Where Botswana has no representation in a country, travellers can visit the British High Commission, which can usually deal with the visa application. While the process can take as little as a few days, foreigners should allow at least a month for a tourist visa to be processed.
- Completed visa the relevant form.
- Letter of invitation from the host.
- Two identical passport size photos.
- The visa fee set by the Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs ministry (formerly the Labour and Home Affairs ministry).
- Visa or residence permit from the country of residence
- Return air ticket.
- If visiting Botswana on business, you’ll need supporting documents proving you’re visiting for business purposes.
New immigration rules from 1 October 2016 RE children travelling into or through Botswana
Entry requirements section – the Botswana government has introduced new immigration rules from 1 October 2016; children travelling into or through Botswana must provide a certified copy of their full unabridged birth certificate; if the child is travelling with one parent, with another adult or unaccompanied, the parent or parents who aren’t present will need to provide an affidavit giving their consent for the child to travelIf you wish to visit Botswana for more than three months, you need to apply for a visa prior to your visit. You may send your application to the Chief Immigration Officer, P. O. Box 942, Gaborone, tel. (267) 361-1300.
Expats with a permanent job offer in Botswana need to apply for a work permit. Work permits are valid for a number of years, but can be extended.
Ideally, prospective employees should apply for their work permit before arriving in the country. Employers usually sort out work permits for their employees, and will often engage consultants to get the paperwork sorted out. Requirements may differ from case to case, based on the job.
Documents needed to support a work permit application
- Completed application form.
- Copy of residence permit application.
- A copy of the passport.
- Two passport-sized photographs.
- A copy of the job advertisement in a local paper.
- Proof of qualifications.
- Medical certificate.
- Marriage certificate (if applicable).
- Recent bank statement.
- Letter of motivation from the applicant.
- Applicant’s letter of acceptance.
- Employment contract.
If you’re bringing your spouse and children, you’ll need to apply for their residence permits too.
Residency visas for Botswana
Those looking to work and live in Botswana will also need to apply for a residency permit. This may be a little confusing to some, and what’s worse, you may hear contradicting information. When we were going through this process, some people assured us we didn’t need the work permit, while others said we did. It made more sense to go with the former, because I couldn’t see why you’d need both. To my mind, the residence permit meant you could work in Botswana because otherwise how else could you work in Botswana without the residence permit? I guess I made the mistake of comparing it to the UK Visa system, where all you need is the residence permit. So I’m here to reiterate that you certainly need both. I guess it’s another one of Botswana’s little quirks.
Applying for permits in Botswana can be quite a daunting, confusing and stressful. In all honesty, I would urge those who can spare the money, to find a reputable immigration consultant and pay them to do all the legwork. Do your homework to avoid any disappointments and further stress. Many expats hire consultants to assist them.
*Please keep an eye out, as we’ll be doing a piece on immigration consultants soon.
As with most immigration staff, the Botswana immigration officers can come across as rigid and unfriendly. Having lived in a few different countries, I can quite honestly say this appears to be the norm wherever you go. Don’t let it dishearten you or put the fear of God in you.
Instead, smile and be polite. It also helps to put in an effort in the way you present yourself; make sure you look presentable! If you look shabby, as if you don’t take much pride in the way you look or you’d be unable to hold down a job, it may raise other question marks you’d rather not have raised.
Overstaying the duration of your visa is a serious offence. If you need to extend it, do so with at least a few months to go before your current one expires. *While the Botswana Government website is a good reference point, information is not always up-to-date. I would suggest you keep checking YourBotswana for our post on Immigration Consultants.
Do you have any further questions you’d like answered about the application process that you feel YourBotswana hasn’t covered? Please feel free to comment or ask us and we’ll do our best to address your questions as best we can.