Universities in and around Cape Town
Language schools in Cape Town
Experience reports
Accommodation in Cape Town
Checklist for exchange students

For general enquiries when planning a visit as a foreign student, check out the helpful link developed by the Department of Foreign Affairs http://www.southafrica.info/public_services/foreigners/consular_foreigners.htm to give you some useful tips.


For Schengen country passport holders you can visit South Africa for a holiday for up to 90 days without a visum. You will get a visitor’s permit for this period at the airport at passport control. Just make sure that your passport is still valid until 30 days after your departure from South Africa and that you have a valid return ticket.

For studying purposes you will however require a study visum which you have to apply for at the South African embassy in your country of origin.

When doing an internship in Cape Town you will have to apply for a special visum at the South African embassy in your country of origin. This visum is usually valid for 3 months and will have to get renewed at least 30 days before expiry up to a maximum stay of 6 months. When doing an internship through a student placement organisation they will furnish you with all this information.

The terms and conditions for visums change very often. So check out the link for the latest on what is applicable to you when applying for a certain visum

Studying a foreign semester

There are hundreds of international students in and around Cape Town. To study a foreign study semester you will firstly have to check whether the universities in Cape Town have an agreement with your tertiary insitution and whether your course subjects are on offer here to. Go to the home pages and check out the requirements and options available for students under the International Offices sections for University of Cape Town (http://www.uct.ac.za/apply/intlapplicants/chooseuct/why/) , University of Stellenbosch (http://www0.sun.ac.za/international/) or University of the Western Cape (http://www.uwc.ac.za/portal/uwc2006/content/international_students/index.htm).

The Cape University of Technology (http://www.cput.ac.za/) also has their foreign student programmes which should be more practically orientated, but compare their tuition prices to the other institutions before making a final decision.

Internships in Cape Town

It is difficult to find an internship in South Africa because South African companies are not as well geared for internships as in European countries. Those that do offer internships often have agreements with South African Technicons and therefore only use students from these institutions for internships.

However, it’s not impossible to apply from outside South Africa for an internship here. There are companies that specialise in obtaining internships for students. The most popular and one of the better institutions is Magister (http://www.magister.co.za) and their very good website can be checked out for more information. They have a good reputation for providing good personalised service to their students.

These type of companies do charge an administration fee for helping you getting an internship, but they are very helpful. They can also assist you with visum applications, travel and accommodation problems and general advice when you are here. Just remember that you usually do not get payment as an intern in South Africa.

Medical insurance

In order to get a study visum for South Africa you will require medical insurance. The South African Department of Health has ruled that all international students applying for a study permit are required to take out private health-care insurance for the academic year. There are two types of hospitals in South Africa, government hospitals where you receive free health care and private hospitals. However international students are not allowed to receive free hospital care at government facilities.

The cost of private hospital care in South Africa is very high. It is therefore advised to take out additional foreign insurance that is sufficient to cover your full medical expenses, including hospitalisation whilst in South Africa. If you are covered by your parent’s health insurance, make sure that this insurance will also cover you while in South Africa (travel insurance when buying a flight ticket with your credit card is not enough).

Very important to note is that at most South African tertiary education insitutions international students will also be required to show proof of their medical insurance upon registration. Have a look at this link from the Stellenbosch University as a practical example http://www0.sun.ac.za/international/prosp.php?page=insurance

The same level of insurance is also necessary when doing an internship. In Europe there are many medical insurers. In Germany for instance you can book medical insurance on-line at http://www.auslandsversicherung.de/travel_dt/index.htm or http://www.care-concept.de. You can also enquire at your nearest travel agent or from your university for more information on insurers in your country, or try a Google search.

Alternatively cheap health insurance is also available directly in South Africa. In some instances however you will require a South African bank account which could prove complicated. However, you can check out the following options:

When doing a language course (usually only a few weeks) also ensure that your medical insurance will cover you adequately. Again in Germany you can take out travel insurance which covers you for up to 45 days in a foreign country at a very low price. Have a look at: http://cms.vkb.de/web/html/pk/versicherungen/reise/ausland/produktuebersicht/


Upon entry into South Africa there are generally no vaccination requirements. The Western Cape is not a malaria or other tropical disease infested area. Since other areas are known for tropical diseases (e.g. Kruger National Park), you are strongly advised to obtain medical advice and information before travelling there.

It is further recommended that students planning to study nursing, social work or any other subject which involves working with the underprivileged communities have a course of Hepatitis B inoculations starting 9 months prior to arrival in South Africa.

Visitors from countries where yellow fever is endemic are often required to present their yellow World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination record or other proof of inoculation, or they must be inoculated at the airport in order to be permitted entry.

How to get to Cape Town

Flights to Cape Town from Europe are plentiful and most of the well known airlines provide flights. My personal favourite is KLM due to the good service they provide prior to and also during flights. The following airline companies are recommended for on-line bookings:

KLM (direct flight available from Amsterdam)
South African Airways (direct flight from Frankfurt)
Lufthansa (direct flight available from Frankfurt)
LTU (direct flight available from Frankfurt)
British Airways (direct flight available from Heathrow)
Air France (from Paris via Johannesburg)

Special discounted rates for students are available through STA Travel . Also check out the ISIC Card (http://www.isic.org) options if you are an older student. For this option you will require an ISIC student card available from travel agencies. And when you are still young enough just ask your travel agent for a youth fare!

Some airlines do not always fly directly to Cape Town e.g. Air Namiba and some SAA flights and you will stop over at Windhoek or Johannesburg before connecting to Cape Town. Johannesburg has a very big and busy airport (O.R. Thambo Airport) so try to look at their aiport map if your stopover time is quite short. Remember to collect and check-in your luggage at the first point of entry into South Africa.

A direct flight from Europe to Cape Town will take you in the region of 11 hours to complete. The Cape Town International airport is located approximately 30kms from the city centre and Somerset West, and 35kms from Cape Town’s Atlantic seaboard (Table View, Bloubergstrand, etc).

If nobody is collecting you from the airport various shuttle services are available between the city centre and the airport. If you have to take a normal taxi only use the Touchdown taxi service which is the officially authorised airport taxi company of Cape Town International. Or check out http://www.acsa.co.za/tools/Printbody.asp?pid=506 for other travel options.


Bring your laptop with if you have one. But when you bring two with for your hobby for example, you might have to pay a penalty at customs control for import duty purposes. Check this out before you bring two or more with.

Internet connections are available throughout Cape Town where you can plug your laptop in, but if you don’t have one don’t worry, there are many internet cafés around that have fast connections and are relatively cheap.

Bring your cellular phone with to Cape Town. You can buy a very cheap sim-card at almost any retail shop which you can pop into your cellphone and it should work. Then you only need to buy airtime additionally in order to speak or sms. Some overseas contracts also work in SA, but they are very expensive to maintain here. Usually when you do an internship through a placement organisation a sim-card and new number will be included in your package. And if you forgot your cellphone at home, don’t worry. Click on Cellurent (http://www.cellurent.co.za) and see what their cost and terms are to rent a phone from them.

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