SOUTH AFRICA: Update on Zimbabwe Exemption Permit (ZEP) Applications

February 6, 2018

On 31st January 2018, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) extended to 15th February 2018 the closing date for payments and submission of supporting documents and biometrics for applications for the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP), at one of the ten designated Visa Application Centres.

This deadline had previously been extended to 31st January 2018. The extended deadline is not for new applications, which had to be submitted by 30th November 2017.


This information is most applicable to South African companies employing Zimbabwean nationals in possession of Zimbabwean Special Permits (ZSPs) which expired on December 31, 2017, or those wishing to extend offers of employment to them.

Until the 15th February 2018 deadline, employers in South Africa may continue employing Zimbabwean nationals who are in possession of expired ZSPs, provided they can prove they have applied for a ZEP; equally, employers wishing to extend offers of employment to them may do so.

Furthermore, banks have been requested to allow ZEP applicants to maintain and transact on their bank accounts, as opposed to suspending them, and the Immigration Service at the various Ports of Entry has been instructed to allow them to travel to and from Zimbabwe without hindrance.


In September 2017, DHA launched the ZEP for Zimbabwean nationals in possession of a Zimbabwean Special Permit (ZSP) issued in 2014 and due to expire on 31 December 2017.

As with the ZSP, the new ZEP entitles the holder to work and/or study and/or pursue self-employment within South Africa without limitation and without the need to obtain a work, study or business visa.

The ZEP is issued for a maximum of four years, expiring on 31st December 2021.

The ZEP holder is, however, not entitled to apply for a Permanent Residence Permit from within the country and/or change the permit to a work, study or business visa.

A total of 197,951 Zimbabwean nationals were issued ZSPs and qualified to apply for ZEPs, of whom 196,006 had applied by 30th November 2018.

However, by 29th January 2018, only 176,605 applicants had completed the entire process, including payment and the submission of supporting documents and biometrics (fingerprints).

Our Advice

Current or prospective employers of Zimbabwean nationals applying for ZEPs should ensure that all supporting documents and biometrics are submitted, and payment made, by the 15th February 2018 deadline.

For advice and information on immigration to South Africa in general, please email us at [email protected].