Avoid Passport Panic: Keep a Few Pages Blank


(An SA Blog Beta post from Your Correspondent)

  • The moral of this post is: Ensure there are a few blank pages in your passport before travelling to South Africa, or you may be refused entry!

Spare a thought for Sean Keener today, who was prevented from boarding a flight from Nairobi to Jo’burg because he is an international fugitive from justice.

Actually, not true: it’s much, much worse. You see, when Sean presented his passport to the Kenya Airways authorities, it was discovered that he had failed to keep any of the pages in his perfectly valid and 100% legal travel document blank. Gasp!

Sean fell foul of one of the more inspiredly obtuse rules devised by South Africa’s inscrutable department of Home Affairs, which regulates who enters and exits the country. The rule is – and I am not kidding – YOU MAY NOT ENTER SA WITHOUT BLANK PAGES IN YOUR PASSPORT. Brilliant! Congratulations all ’round to the Nobel Prize winners at Home Affairs.

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The first thing on your list when planning a visit here should thus be to check whether, indeed, there is enough paper pasture in your little travel book for the small but territorial Home Affairs stamp to roam around in.

If you’re coming here from a third country (i.e., not your home), and your passport is getting dangerously full, visit your nearest consulate or embassy, which knows the rules and will add pages. US consulates add 25 pages at a time, for free, and often within the hour – as Sean has now discovered.

Sean, as you will know, is a founder of the BootsnAll.com Travel Network, of which this humble blog is the most recent addition. He has got his extra pages and will be on the next flight out. We’ll see you soon, buddy!

Meanwhile, the most famous utterance on the Home Affairs rule comes from one Jack Schwager, an American hedge fund manager, who was denied entry only after his 16-hour flight to our shores, right at the gates of immigration control. SA Blog reproduces what Jack said for your reading pleasure:

“It’s the most exasperating run-in I’ve had with bureaucratic stupidity and rank indifference in my entire life.”

Here, here!