Regardless of whether one is moving to Botswana to set up a business, take up an exciting job offer or simply to visit stunning game reserves and see the famous Okavango Delta, foreigners must have the correct visa for Botswana.
Visa regulations are subject to change. We recommend visiting a Botswanan embassy or consulate for up-to-date information.
The main visa types are tourism visas, visitor's visas, study visas, as well as business, investment and employment visas. Expats who wish to stay in the country could also obtain a residence visa.
Tourist and visitor's visas for Botswana
The application process for a tourist visa for Botswana is not as straightforward as it is for other destinations. Travellers are encouraged to investigate visa regulations ahead of time and apply before travelling, with Botswana's e-visa facilities, if necessary.
Nationals of many countries do not need a visa for short-term stays. This includes citizens from the European Union, the UK, the US and South Africa, among others. These foreigners will likely receive a visa on arrival. Nonetheless, it’s best to check with the nearest embassy about the latest regulations, as entry requirements change frequently.
Foreign citizens who are not from a visa-exempt country will need to apply in advance.
Tourism visas allow travel to Botswana for recreational or non-work activities. Visitor's visas allow foreigners to stay in Botswana for social reasons, such as attending an event or visiting friends and family. To get a tourism or visitor's visa, applicants will usually be asked to provide their flight and trip itinerary. Processing the visas normally takes two weeks.
Tourism visas are valid for one month and are single entry, but can be extended up to five years and allow multiple entries in some cases.
Visitor's visas are generally valid for three months, but dependants of residents can be issued a visitor’s visa valid for up to two years.
Neither tourism nor visitor's visas allow foreigners to work in the country.
Study visas for Botswana
Prospective expats who plan to study at an educational institution in Botswana must apply for a study visa. There are several universities and technical colleges, and Botswana also offers research opportunities.
Among the supporting documents, applicants are often required to provide their flight itinerary and proof of acceptance to study.
Study visas are valid for three months but can be extended.
Work permits for Botswana
Expats who plan on doing business in Botswana must apply for the appropriate work visa. An expat cannot work or earn an income in Botswana on a tourism, visitor’s or study visa. Instead, specific business, investment and employment visas are available.
Foreign citizens who are prospective investors, entrepreneurs or traders are advised to apply for a business visa. This visa will allow expats to attend business conferences and explore and negotiate commercial opportunities.
Validity ranges from three to six months up to one year.
While business visas allow prospective businesspeople entry to Botswana, investment visas are issued to expats who regularly do business in the country. This often includes foreigners with investment projects and directors of organisations that operate in Botswana.
Investment visas are typically valid from six months to five years.
Foreign nationals who are offered an opportunity for employment or an internship, as well as research and voluntary work, must get an employment visa.
Expats with a job offer will apply for an employment visa and a work permit alongside their prospective employer. In most cases, the employer will carry the burden of applying for a work permit. Regardless, expats should ask their employer or consult with the nearest embassy about the required supporting documents.
Employment visas are usually granted for six months but can be extended.
Residence permits for Botswana
Residence permits allow foreign nationals to live in Botswana. Expats who wish to stay longer than their visa allows can explore their options for a residence permit, whether they are an investor, employee or student. Accompanying dependents must also apply for residency through the Botswanan immigration authorities.
The documents required vary depending on the applicants' circumstances. In many cases, applicants must provide a medical report and a certified copy of their birth certificate.
Expats who have lived in Botswana for a minimum of five years can then apply for permanent residence.
Foreigners will likely need a fair bit of time collecting the necessary documents and then waiting for the application to be processed. This could be at least thirty working days for a residence permit or six months in the case of permanent residence applications.
Securing residency within Botswana can be quite a daunting task and the process can be tedious and confusing. Many expats hire the services of an immigration consultant to assist them.
Are you an expat living in Botswana?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Botswana. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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