The South African government has extended the validity of Zimbabwe Exemption Permits (ZEPs) until June 2023.

Key Points:

  • Zimbabwean nationals who hold ZEPs can continue to stay in South Africa until Jun. 30, 2023.
  • ZEP holders do not need a valid exemption certificate or an authorization letter to remain in South Africa when applying for a different visa.
  • ZEP holders will not be arrested, detained or deported for any reason related to the individual not having a valid exemption certificate.
  • ZEP holders who are unable to secure a different visa after the grace period can be deported.

Background: The ZEP program began when the South African government granted “special dispensation” for Zimbabweans who were in the country illegally, many of them having had fled violence and instability in Zimbabwe. The South African government replaced Special Dispensation for Zimbabweans with Zimbabwean Special Permits in 2014; it replaced Zimbabwean Special Permits with ZEPs in 2017.

BAL Analysis: Under the current extension, ZEP holders must secure a different visa by June 30, 2023, in order to stay in South Africa legally. BAL will continue to monitor developments regarding the visa extensions and will provide more information as it becomes available.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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