Africa Immigration Series (AIS) is a series of articles to be published on our blog frequently. Each article will explore the Africa’s expat mobility landscape and a brief overview of the current economic situation and investment opportunities.

Our next country article focuses on Namibia:



Capital: Windhoek

Currency: Namibian Dollar (NAD)

Official language: English; German; Afrikaans; Oshiwambo

Government: Multiparlamentary Democracy

President: Hage Geingob

GDP: 13,24 billion USD (2017)

Country Overview

Namibia shares borders with South Africa to the south, Angola and Zambia to the north and Botswana to the east. With a population of more than 2.5 million, Namibia has enjoyed stability since gaining independence in 1990 after a long struggle against rule by South Africa. The current president, Hage Geingob was voted in as president in the November 2014 elections while serving as prime minister.

Namibia’s economy is mainly supported by the manufacturing industry, which includes meat and fish processing, and beverages. The biggest support of the economy is still the mining industry, which mainly relies on diamonds and uranium, with smaller copper, zinc, and lead mines. Regarding revenue, the second largest sector is tourism, which has a tremendous potential for growth.

Namibia’s relatively strong economic growth has not been enough to deal with its levels of poverty, inequality, and unemployment. By the national poverty line (N$377.96), poor Namibians made up 28.7% of the total population in 2009/10, a drop of 9.0 percentage points from 37.7% in 2003/04. The reduction was driven by gains in rural areas.

The majority of the population has access to electricity. Electricity supply is sourced from hydro-electrical, coal fired, and diesel fired power stations in Namibia, as well as power purchase agreements with other countries in the region.


Namibia gained its Independence recently, in 1990. The only Immigration Act promulgated since then is the Immigration Act of 1993. In practice it happens regularly that the Namibian immigration authorities have been instructed by government to allow/ban applications under specific sections and circumstances, these instructions however are rarely administered in properly accessible public records. A few important observations:

  • No separate residence registration
  • Same-sex marriage and life partnership are not recognized
  • Allowed to change visas in country
  • No ownership constraints for foreign shareholding

Permits overview

  • Business/Tourist visa (sec. 29) – For business prospecting
  • Short term work visas (sec. 27) – For urgent matters, usually in the engineering or construction sectors. Valid for 3 months
  • Long term work permit (sec. 27) – To be employed in Namibia. Valid for 2 years and renewable
  • Spousal / Dependant visa
  • Study permit (sec. 28) – To attend or undergo any training or education
  • Investor/Self-employment work permit (sec. 27) – To invest in or start a business
  1. Business Visa

Applicable for short term business trips to Namibia (authorized to conduct business meetings, attend seminars etc. only. – No actual work). Business visa is single entry and valid for a maximum of 30 days. South Africans do not need to apply for a business visa before travelling but will be issued with their Visa at the Port of Entry. Please note: SA passport holders get a 30 day tourist visa upon entry.

An invitation letter from a Namibian entity is required when travelling for business. It is important that a person has an invitation letter available which clearly states the intentions of the visit.

NB: Walking around on a worksite for example is not permitted as this is seen as (the introductory stage) of actual work.

  1. Short Term Work Visa

There is 1 type of short term work visa available to enter Namibia for a short period of time, that is the Short Term Work Visa, valid for 3 months with the possibility to extend at the discretion of Home Affairs.

For this permit no local contract is required and no need to prove the entity relationship. The applicant must have higher qualification than matric, otherwise, well motivated reason why he should be in country.

Processing time is about 10 working days; Place of submission: Home Affairs Namibia – no physical presence required; Letter of approval gets emailed to applicant and visa will be issued at the border.

  1. Long Term Work Visa

Long term work permits are issued for employees who need to stay in the country for longer than 6 months, work permit is valid for a maximum of 2 years with the possibility to renew as required. Processing time is 3 – 6 month. Applications are submitted at the Home Affairs in Namibia.

To obtain long term work permits the applicant has to submit the usual documents, e.g. his C.V., qualifications and reference letters. The future employer on the other hand is to submit a motivation letter on company letter head motivating why a foreigner needs to fill the vacancy, along with a copy of the advertisement placed in a Namibian newspaper to advertise the position and explanations why applicants were not successful. Documents such as the motivation letter, deed of surety and representation by prospective employer should be signed by the employer in Namibia, not by the Labour consultant.

  1. Spousal / Dependant visa

This visa is issued to spouses and minor children of work permit holders, this visa category is valid for 2 years with the possibility to extend.

  1. Study Permit

Study permits are offered to foreigners who will make use of Basic education and Tertiary Education in Namibia. Study permits can be applied for up to 2 years. The applicants have to complete the application for the study permit which is the same as work permit application. The parents should complete the letter of undertaking to support the study permit.

  1. Investor / Self-employed work visa

Investor’s permit/ Self-employed work permits are issued to applicants who want to establish a company or to invest in a company in Namibia. The duration of validity of the permit is at the discretion of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration, usually issued for maximum 3 years.

Obtaining an investor’s permit for Namibia is multi step process. In the first instance the investor must obtain the necessary permissions and registration to be able to make the investment. Subsequent to this an application will need to be made for a work permit – self employed permit.

To invest and establish a company in Namibia we firstly need to obtain the required certificate from the Department of Trade and Industry, therefore a detailed business plan must be submitted. The department will then decide to issue permission to execute the investment, the following aspects are taken into consideration:

  1. Goods to be produced
  2. Funding of the business (min. 2 Million Nam Dollars invested)
  3. Shareholding
  4. (Namibian) employee structure
  5. Projected income statements

See here our INTRODUCING MAURITIUS article.

Our very first AIS article:

See here our introducing Kenya country article.

Stay tuned for our upcoming articles on the Africa Immigration Series (AIS).

by Fernanda Braz