Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges (DIAP)
downloading speed this document has been divided into 4 parts.
Documents with this logo are in PDF format.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is required to view these documents. Click on the logo to
download a free version. For more information click
Privileges and Immunities Act No 37 (2001)
Prior to departure
for South Africa newly appointed personnel shall be officially announced by the
mission in South Africa to the Directorate: Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges.
personnel members are to await a formal acceptance by SA before taking up a posting
at a mission in South Africa.
international law and practice, persons to whom immunity from jurisdiction of
the host country's laws are extended, are nevertheless obliged, according to the
Vienna Convention, to respect those laws. As all nations recognise, diplomatic
immunity is based on the principle that duly accredited members of diplomatic
Missions must be able to pursue their official duties free from harassment and
possible intimidation and without impediment to their performance of those duties.
Immunity, therefore, is not a licence for misconduct of any kind but is, in fact,
intended to benefit the functioning of the Mission, not to personally benefit
its individual members. Consequently, the Department of Foreign Affairs looks
to Heads of diplomatic and other Missions, to advise members of their staff, as
well as family members who enjoy derivative immunity, on their duty to respect
the laws and regulations of South Africa.
a diplomatic agent possessing proper identification may not be arrested or detained,
the authorities have a duty to protect the safety and welfare of the general public,
including other diplomats, and to take reasonable steps to ensure this. It is
incumbent on persons to carry adequate identity documents with them at all
For purposes of immunity from
criminal jurisdiction, the Department includes, persons who are in the following
relationship to an official representative of a foreign government or another
person who has immunity from criminal jurisdiction by virtue of his or her official
- The spouse of such representative
or other person and his or her unmarried children under 21 years of age, who are
not members of some other household, who reside exclusively in the principal's
household and who are not nationals or permanent residents of South Africa.
- The unmarried children of such representative or other
person, who are under 23 years of age and are attending an institution of higher
education on a full-time basis.
- Under exceptional
circumstances and with the express approval of the Department of Foreign Affairs,
other persons who are not members of some other household, who reside exclusively
in the principal's household, and who are recognised by the sending State as members
of the family forming part of the household.
Department also takes this opportunity to remind the Heads of Mission of previous
circular notes on the policies and procedures affecting their Missions and staff.
For ease of reference by Missions, the following guidelines have been compiled.
1.1 MEMBERS OF FAMILY: RECOGNITION
Department recognises a member of the family of a foreign representative in terms
of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, Act No 74 of 1989, as the spouse
of a foreign representative, any unmarried child under the age of 21 years, and
any dependent unmarried child between the ages of 21 and 23 years who is undertaking
full time studies at an educational institution and forming part of the household
during a term of duty in South Africa. These members of family are regularised
on diplomatic and official visas and exempted from temporary residence permit
control. Adopted children are recognised accordingly upon submission of certified
copies of official adoption certificates to the Directorate: Diplomatic Immunities
and Privileges (DIAP).
MEMBERS OF FAMILY: IDENTITY CERTIFICATES
are issued with identity documents by the DIAP. Children of foreign representatives
will be entitled to identity documents upon reaching the age of sixteen (16) years
provided they reside in the receiving country with their parents on a permanent
basis. Should they study abroad and visit their parents during school holidays
only, they do not qualify for identity documents, but will be issued with multiple
entry visas valid for twelve months.
children reach twenty one (21) years of age, the Department must be furnished
with written proof that they have been accepted/enrolled at a recognised institution
of higher education (eg university) with an indication of which course is to be
followed. After submission of such documentation, the student will be entitled
to an identity document whilst studying until reaching the age of twenty three
(23) years. When the person reaches twenty three (23) years of age, the identity
document must be returned to DIAP for cancellation.
Top of Page
MEMBERS OF FAMILY: WORK/STUDY PERMITS
of foreign representatives will be facilitated by the Department to engage in
gainful employment during a term of duty, either through a bilateral spousal agreement
or an ad hoc arrangement for employment, through DIAP. Bilateral agreements are
to be negotiated directly between the mission and the relevant political section
of the Department. Applications to engage in gainful employment ad hoc, could
be submitted to the DIAP, to assist a spouse interested in furthering a professional
career. Such applications to be submitted on form BI-159, the Application for
a Work Permit, together with the original offer of employment letter under cover
of a Note Verbale. The provisions of paragraph 4.1 in respect of the change in
diplomatic status, are also to be observed.
Spouses are also assisted ad hoc through DIAP,
to study at tertiary educational institutions in South Africa. A letter of acceptance
by the institution is to be submitted to the DIAP under cover of a Note Verbale.
certificate in lieu of a work/study permit will be issued by protocol to a spouse,
valid for employment with a specific employer, or to study at a specific tertiary
institution as the case may be. A change of employer/tertiary institution would
require a new application for gainful employment or to study elsewhere.
the spouse of a foreign representative is not designated as a representative of
the sending State, but employed by its mission subsequent to arrival, a duly created
post on the mission's staff establishment in the administrative cadre, is to be
filled by the spouse. The spouse as the post incumbent, must be re-registered
with protocol accordingly, and the diplomatic identity document returned for cancellation.
An application for a new identity document must be submitted, under cover of a
Note Verbale stating that the spouse has been duly appointed and that the mission
is in agreement that the spouse be conferred functional immunities. A new identity
document reflecting the revised status of the spouse is then issued.
Where the mission's staff establishment is inadequate
to appoint a spouse to its administrative cadre, a request for approval of a new
post in that cadre, must be submitted to protocol.
a spouse of a foreign representative is engaged at a mission as a locally employed
personnel member, the appointment must be registered with protocol under cover
of a Note Verbale, stating that the spouse is appointed as such and that the mission
is in agreement
that the spouse be accorded
functional immunities. The diplomatic identity document must be returned to protocol
for cancellation. A new identity document reflecting the revised status of the
spouse is then issued.
at missions either in the administrative cadre, or as locally employed personnel
members, must be included in the personnel returns of missions, to be submitted
to protocol at request.
a school/university require a study permit for a child under the age of twenty
three (23) years the mission must submit a Note Verbale to the DIAP stating the
child's name and age. A letter of acceptance by the school/university should accompany
the note verbale.
A "To Whom it may Concern"
letter will be issued confirming that the child is still regarded as part of the
foreign representative's household and therefore exempt from temporary residence
permit control. This letter should be submitted to the relevant educational institution
in lieu of a study permit.
Top of Page
MEMBERS OF FAMILY: CESSATION OF DIPLOMATIC PRIVILEGES AND IMMUNITIES
When the spouse of a foreign representative takes
up gainful employment in South Africa in the private sector or at a mission, the
identity document is to be returned to the DIAP under cover of a Note Verbale
stating that the mission is in agreement with the person taking up employment
on a basis of reciprocity and that the person renounces his/her immunity, when
entering the private sector. When employed by a mission either in the administrative
cadre or as a locally employed personnel member, the accompanying Note Verbale
announcing the appointment should state that the mission is in agreement that
functional immunities be accorded. A new identity document reflecting the revised
status of the spouse is then issued.
no longer qualify for diplomatic privileges and -immunities in terms of the Diplomatic
Immunities and Privileges Act, Act No 47of 1989 upon reaching the age of twenty
one (21) years when no further study is to be undertaken, or upon reaching the
age of twenty three (23) years when studying full time. The identity document
issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs must be returned to the DIAP for cancellation.
remainder of the person's stay in the country will be regularised by the Department
of Home Affairs in terms of the Aliens Control Act, Act No 96 of 1991. In terms
of the act, it is the Department of Home Affairs policy, to regularise aliens
only on private/national passports and not diplomatic passports. A period of three
months is allowed to obtain the necessary passport. During that period, the Department
of Foreign Affairs will issue a courtesy visa, without exemption from a temporary
residence permit, for three months only. Accordingly, the Department of Home Affairs
would facilitate a temporary residence permit on a diplomatic passport for three
foreign representative will have to apply for the issue of the initial three months'
temporary residence permit on the diplomatic passport for these members of his
household, directly to the Regional Office of the Department of Home Affairs,
Sentrakor Building, Pretorius Street, Pretoria, and direct subsequent applications
for the renewal of temporary residence permits accordingly. It is therefore a
legal requirement that members of the family of a foreign representative, no longer
qualifying for diplomatic privileges and immunities, be issued with national (private)
passports of their country of origin, to continue residing in South Africa.
1.5 OTHER NEMBERS OF HOUSEHOLD
other members of the household of a foreign representative not qualifying for
diplomatic privileges and immunities in terms of the Diplomatic Immunities and
Privileges Act, Act No 47 of 1989, who are issued with national/private passports
by the sending State, are regularised by the Department of Home Affairs in terms
of the Aliens Control Act, Act Number 95 of 1991, which. requires that regularisation
of stay be applied for at a South African mission prior to entry into South Africa.
Top of Page
annual Immunity List is published in the Government Gazette in terms of
section 7 of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 1989 (Act No. 74 of
The list consists of all transferred
diplomatic, consular and administrative staff at all foreign Missions in the Republic
of South Africa. This list is updated and amended on a daily basis by DIAP, according
to information received from Missions in South Africa.
Annual Personnel Returns
Department of Foreign Affairs is responsible for registering all Mission personnel
and their dependants while they are on duty in the Republic of South Africa. It
is therefore of the utmost importance that DIAP should have up to date records
at all times. A copy of DIAP's record in respect of all Mission personnel will
be sent annually, during July, to all Missions for verification. This is to ensure
that the information on record is still valid and correct and that the Department
is kept up to date with any changes at Missions.
Annual Personnel Return will be sent in duplicate.
3.1 The first copy is to be amended by Missions if necessary
and returned promptly, before 31 November, to DIAP.
3.2 The second copy is to be retained by Missions for their own records.
of changes during the year.
In addition to
the Annual Personnel Return submitted to the Department, it remains the responsibility
of Missions to keep DIAP informed at all times of any changes which take place
regarding all personnel matters i.e. departures, marriages, births, changes in
When informing DIAP of the appointment
of locally engaged personnel, Missions must please state whether the person
is a South African citizen, a permanent resident without South African citizenship
or a foreigner without permanent residence status in the country.
3.3 Forms containing personal particulars must be submitted in duplicate
for record purposes.
Top of Page
4.1 Replacement Personnel
announcing the appointment of an official, Missions are requested to indicate
clearly whether it is a replacement, in which case the name of the predecessor
must be submitted, or a new posting.
4.2 Creation of New Posts
it become necessary to create a new post, Missions are requested to furnish the
Department with the following:
(a) A motivation
for the creation of the new post.
(b) A brief description of the duties to
be performed by the prospective incumbent.
The prospective incumbent of a new post may not apply for a visa or enter the
country before the new post has been approved.
4.3 Promotion/Change of Designation
a person is promoted or any change of designation occurs, Missions must return
the old certificate of identity and apply again for a new certificate of identity.
A personal particulars form, two passport-sized clear colour photographs (as the
document is used for identification purposes), and two signatures must again be
submitted, under cover of a Note Verbale stating clearly the date of promotion
and new designation of the official.
Top of Page
Certificates of Identity
of identity issued to representatives are the property of the Department, and
must be returned to the Department upon request and/or departure.
Application for Certificates of Identity
for certificates of identity are to be submitted to DIAP.
applying for certificates of identity in respect of new or replacement personnel,
the following documentation is required:
- photostats of passports of official and family.
Personal Particulars form - one form per family
is to be completed in duplicate, furnishing all particulars as requested
on the form, including those pertaining to a spouse as well as children who form
part of the household. The names of the relevant schools or educational institutions
being attended by the children must also be stated.
completing Personal Particulars forms in respect of transferred officials whose
spouses and/or children have not arrived with them, Missions are requested
(i) clearly indicate on
the form that the spouse and/or children are "not here yet" or "to arrive later";
(ii) inform DIAP of their arrival in a Note Verbale, stating the date
on which they arrived. This is to ensure that the dependants are placed on the
Department's records for the purposes of their entitlements, immunities, etc.
copies of marriage certificates (or of the wife's passport which states that she
is the wife of the official concerned) are to be furnished to DIAP in the following
(i) When a transferred
official, who was registered with the Department as single, gets married in the
RSA during the tour of duty.
(ii) At the time of registering an official (or
when submitting personal particulars to apply for certificates of identity) whose
spouse has a surname different from that of the official concerned.
Photographs and Specimen Signatures
should ensure when submitting photographs and specimen signatures that:
(i) Photographs - are clearly distinguishable
and of passport type (colour).
(ii) Specimen signatures - occupy a space not exceeding
6,5 cm in length and 2 cm in width, see below.
signatures are to be originals made on good quality white paper. Signatures
on flimsy or coloured paper are not acceptable.
of photographs and specimen signatures required
certificates of identity only -
three specimen signatures
Certificates of identity
will be valid for the estimated period of duty but not for more than four years.
Should the holder of a certificate of identity remain in the country for longer
than four years, the certificate of identity will have to be returned for revalidation
before the date of expiry which appears in the bottom right-hand corner of the
termination of a tour of duty, the certificate of identity must be surrendered
Top of Page
of identity in respect of replacement personnel should not be applied for until
the certificates of identity of the predecessors and their dependants have been
returned to DIAP for cancellation. Missions can then apply for a certificate of
identity for a successor.
Overlapping of personnel
cases where the tour of duty of a new official overlaps for a period of time with
that of a predecessor, the Mission is requested to register the new official by
furnishing the Department with the necessary Personal Particulars form, completed
in duplicate. However a certificate of identity for the successor should not
be applied for until the predecessor's certificate is submitted for cancellation.
The Department considers an overlap of six weeks as reasonable. Missions
should not, however, take it for granted that lengthy overlaps, e.g. three months
or more, will be acceptable to the Department unless suitable motivation is submitted
prior to an official's arrival in South Africa.
5.4 Temporary appointments
the Department is informed of the temporary appointment of an official (for however
short a period), Missions are requested to furnish Personal Particulars forms
in respect of such persons for record purposes.
Kindly note that the minimum period for a tour of duty to qualify for a
certificate of identity, is not less than six months from the date of actual
assumption of duty.
Top of Page
Personal Particulars forms for new officials with DIAP will, in the interim, ensure
that officials are placed on the Department's records and will be accorded their
(a) Care of certificates
It is incumbent upon controlling
Missions to ensure that -
(i) the necessary
care is taken of all certificates of identity;
(ii) the certificates are returned
promptly to DIAP for cancellation when officials leave;
(iii) the requirements
set out above are complied with in respect of all transferred members of staff
and their dependants who apply for certificates of identity.
Loss of certificates of identity
or theft of a certificate should be reported to the Departmentís Protocol Administration
Subdirectorate without delay by means of a Note Verbale, explaining the circumstances
surrounding the loss or theft, and if applicable, any efforts made to recover
(c) Application for replacement
If, after the loss or theft
of a certificate, Missions wish to apply for a replacement certificate of identity
(after item (b) above has been complied with), the following documentation should
(i) Personal Particulars form
- in duplicate.
(ii) One photograph and one specimen signature.
Certificates of identity for children of transferred officials:
of transferred officials will be entitled to certificates of identity upon reaching
the age of 16 years up to the age of 21 years provided they stay in the country
with their parents permanently. Should they study abroad and visit their parents
during school holidays only, they do not qualify for certificates of identity,
but will be issued with visas valid for multiple entries within twelve months.
When they have reached 21, the Department must be furnished with written proof
that they have been accepted/enrolled at a recognised institution of higher education/learning
(university), with an indication of what course is to be followed. After submission
of such documentation, the student will be entitled to the certificate whilst
studying until reaching the age of 23 years. When the person reaches 23 years
of age, the certificate must be returned to DIAP for cancellation. Should studies
be continued after reaching 23 years of age, such student must obtain a study
permit from the Department of Home Affairs.
a school require a study permit for a child under the age of 23 years, the Mission
must submit a Note Verbale to the Protocol Administration Subdirectorate, clearly
stating the child's name and age.
A "To whom
it may concern" letter will then be issued confirming that the child is still
regarded as part of the official household of the transferred official and therefore
exempt from temporary residence permit control. This letter should be submitted
to the relevant educational institution.
upon reaching the age of 21 years, no further study is to be undertaken, the certificate
must be returned to the Department for cancellation and the remainder of the personís
stay in the country will be regularised by the Department of Home Affairs, which
will issue a temporary residence permit.
Revalidation of certificates of identity:
all cases requesting revalidation, Missions are required to give an indication
of what the remainder of the official's estimated period of duty will be.
One photograph and one specimen signature are required for revalidation purposes.
of stay by the Department of Home Affairs
person whose stay in the country needs to be regularised by the Department of
Home Affairs, must complete an application form BI 159. This form, together with
the applicant's passport, should be submitted to the nearest office of a Regional
Representative of the Department of Home Affairs.
following persons fall into this category :
All students over the age of 23.
(ii) All dependant children who are not studying
or working, and who are 21 years old or older.
(iii) All dependants who are
not the own children of the accredited official, e.g. brother-in-law, niece, nephew,
sister, mother-in law, and who are holders of private passports.
visitors who are travelling on diplomatic or official passports or UNLP
for business/holiday purposes or for medical treatment should consult the Department
of Home Affairs for extension of their temporary residence permit received at
the port of entry.
Top of Page
Cancellation of temporary residence permits
accredited officials at Missions must on arrival check their passports for temporary
residence permits. Should they have received temporary residence permits (a white
sticker) at the port of entry, the passports must be handed in to DIAP under cover
of a Note Verbale without delay for submission to the Department of Home Affairs
so that the temporary residence permits can be cancelled. This can take up to
(f) Description of certificates
certificates are issued to career diplomatic officials and their dependants.
These certificates are issued to career consular officials and their
dependants, as well as to honorary consuls (not their spouses).
These certificates are issued to the following categories of
transferred officials -
to the dependants of the above categories of staff in certain instances, as well
as to members of international organisations.
Temporary Identity Cards
Temporary identity cards for domestics and any other
person who does not qualify for a diplomatic, consular or administrative certificate
Exceptions to the above
will be based on bilateral agreements with the Republic of South Africa.
Top of Page
Appointment/Replacement of Foreign Teachers
countries have been granted approval to send teachers to the Republic of South
Africa under official auspices for the purpose of teaching their respective languages
at various educational institutions in South Africa which fall under the control
of that country's Mission in South Africa.
temporary sojourn of these foreign teachers is regulated by the Department of
In the event of a new post
being required to accommodate an additional teacher at an educational institution,
the Mission concerned is required to obtain the necessary approval from the Department
for the establishment of that teaching post in the Republic. For this purpose
the Mission is required to lodge a formal application for the new post with DIAP
for consideration, and to furnish the following essential information:
The name and place of the educational institution where the new post is to be
(b) the reasons for the creation of the new post;
from the educational institution in support of the new post;
(d) details of
the duties to be performed by the teacher/ lecturer at the educational institution;
(e) information, i.e. full name, date of birth, address,
etc, regarding the envisaged incumbent of the post, as well as date of appointment
and estimated duration of stay in the country. Teachers are not allowed to change
schools without prior permission from the DIAP;
(f) All details concerning
the outgoing teacher, should a post be filled with a new teacher.
Top of Page
Private Gainful Employment
Applications for employment
exceptional cases, the Department of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the
authorities concerned, would be prepared to consider a request from a Mission
on behalf of its officers or their spouses, for the necessary authority to accept
private gainful employment.
case will be considered on merit and, on the principle of reciprocity.
prospective employee is required to complete an application for a work permit
(form BI 159) which must be forwarded by the Mission
under cover of a Note Verbale stating that the Mission is in agreement with the
person taking up employment on a basis of reciprocity, and that the person
renounces his/her immunity.
It is important
to remember that the overriding consideration in dealing with applications for
work permits is whether the employment or task to be performed cannot be undertaken
by a South African citizen or an approved immigrant.
the application be approved, a document granting permission to the applicant to
take up employment, will be issued and forwarded to the mission under cover of
a Note Verbale.
The conditions contained
in this document must be strictly adhered to.
the event of approval of the work permit application, the Mission will have to
return the certificate of identity which was issued by DIAP for the relevant endorsement,
holder of this certificate is entitled to the immunities as defined in article
31.1(c) of Schedule 1 to the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, 1989 (Act
No. 74 of 1989), read with article 37.1 of Schedule 1 and section 2(1) of the
Act in respect of gainful employment.
The bearer of this document
is responsible for any acts performed pertaining to his/her employment.
Top of Page
Locally Recruited Staff
are required to enter into formal written conditions of employment with South
African nationals employed as locally recruited staff and observe the provisions
of the South African Labour Relations Act in the personnel administration of South
African nationals. Similarly Missions are required to administer locally recruited
personnel on foreign passports in the same manner.
nationals recruited by Missions to work as locally recruited personnel in South
Africa are regulated by the Department of Home Affairs in terms of the Aliens
Control Act. This also applies to dependent children of the diplomatic community
on national/private passports. Please refer to Art. 42 of the Vienna Convention
regarding dependents issued with diplomatic passports.
prerequisite for aliens to take up employment in South Africa is to be issued
with a Work Permit abroad, ie prior to entering South Africa. A Work Permit is
validated for work at a specific employer and for a specific period. Aliens issued
with Work Permits are not allowed to either effect a change of employer or to
change their status to Residency in South Africa. Should they wish to change employers,
even if it is from one diplomat to another, or from one Mission to another, they
are required by the Aliens Control Act, to return to their country of origin and
apply for the new position from abroad. Similarly, aliens issued with Work Permits
are required to leave South Africa and apply from abroad should they wish to reside
in South Africa.
Top of Page
Locally Recruited Staff Income Tax
missions in South Africa cannot be compelled to register as employers in respect
of locally recruited staff paid salaries and from whom employees tax should under
normal circumstances be deducted.
of the provisions of section 10(1)(c)(iii) of the Income Tax Act, the remuneration
of an employee of a foreign diplomatic or consular mission in South Africa is
exempt from income tax in South Africa if -
the employee is stationed in South Africa for the sole purpose of holding office
in the Republic as an official of a foreign government; and
the employee is not ordinarily resident in South Africa.
above-mentioned exemption will, however, not apply in the case of a South African
national or a person who is in possession of a permit for permanent residence
in South Africa and is employed by a foreign diplomatic or consular mission.
mentioned above are normally referred to as LOCALLY RECRUITED STAFF and are liable
to normal tax on all remuneration received from diplomatic or consular missions.
Such employees are personally liable to register as taxpayers with the Receiver
of Revenue in whose area he or she resides.
order to assist such taxpayers in meeting their tax liability on an on-going basis
they are normally registered as provisional taxpayers thus obviating the need
for substantial tax payment on assessment after the end of the tax year.
are required to furnish the South African Revenue Service, Private Bag X923, Pretoria,
with the names, residential addresses and salaries paid to locally recruited staff
Missions are in this respect reminded
of the obligation of a sending State to the receiving State in terms of Article
41(i) of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations which states:
prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying
such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving
State. They also have a duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that