South Africa Officially Launches Long-Awaited Digital Nomad Visa

Welcome to the digital nomad visa family, South Africa! As of March 28, 2024, South Africa officially became the fourth African country to offer a digital nomad visa.

This latest entrant into the digital nomad visa fold, however, does not come without controversy. Draft regulations to South African Immigration Regulations were submitted to the public for feedback in February, but the finalized amendments that went into effect ended up being identical to the draft regulations. This prompted criticism that the Minister of Home Affairs did not take any public commentary into consideration.  

The new South African digital nomad visa, categorized as a visitor visa, may be issued for up to three years provided that the applicant works for a foreign employer and makes a minimum of ZAR 1 million ($53,600).

Critics of the new visa take issue with the fact that visa holders would not have to register with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) if their visa is for a period of less than six months within one year. Because this tax exemption is not covered under the current Income Tax Act (ITA), the law would need to be updated, prompting even more legal headaches.

Other issues include the treatment of digital nomads’ software products. Under new amendments to the South African Copyright Bill, universities and other institutions could copy software without paying the creators of these products. Finally, it remains unclear whether freelancers can apply for the digital nomad visa and whether the minimum annual salary requirement of ZAR 1 million is a net or gross amount. These are all important concerns and it seems that none of them were taken into account between the draft and the final laws put into effect.

Other Countries in Africa Offering Digital Nomad Visa

If South Africa’s new digital nomad visa issues seem like a lot to unpack or the required salary sounds too high, digital nomad visas from three other African countries are also available.

Cape Verde is the easiest digital nomad visa gateway to Africa, only requiring proof of a $1500 bank balance for the last six months along with passport and insurance documentation.

Mauritius, on the other hand, requires that applicants earn $1500 per month and come from a list of 114 countries.

Namibia is the third African country to offer a digital nomad visa, but you can only stay for six months and will need to earn $2,000 per month. 

With 54 countries in Africa and only four that currently have digital nomad visas, the continent of Africa is just getting started on the digital nomad scene but is sure to offer much more in the future. No matter which African country you choose, as we have seen with the concerns raised with the South African visa, it is important to do your homework and check with a tax representative to ensure that you are complying with the requirements and prepared for the implications of moving to a new country! And finally, we wonder: which African country will be next to welcome digital nomads?