How To Deal With “Verify Upon Arrival” Passport Endorsement

Familiarity with every endorsement on your passport is very important. I understand to get permit in South Africa na headache. After collecting the permit, visiting home brings with it another set of wàhálà with passport endorsements. It can really be frustrating especially without support in the form of travel tips.

This blog post is for you if your passport has been stamped with “Verify upon Arrival”. In this article, I will walk you through simple but powerful hints on how to address this issue. Follow the content of this blog post using the table of contents below.

Table of Contents
The Frustrations of Verify upon Arrival
The Meaning of Verify upon Arrival
The Awaiting Drama At Lagos Airport
7 Tips To Resolve Verify On Arrival’ Passport Endorsement
South Africa's Verify Upon Arrival Passport Endorsement
South Africa’s Verify Upon Arrival’ Passport Endorsement

The Frustration of Verify on Arrival Endorsement

Verify upon Arrival passport endorsement palava can be frustrating to the holder of the passport. A handful of people I have met in recent times have gone through this nerve-wracking experience. What is even most sad is that there is almost no information about this subject online. I have therefore put together 7 commonsense tips that will help you manage this challenge.

“Of all the books in the world, the best stories are found between the pages of a passport”. – Anonymous.

South African Airways (SAA) Lagos-bound flight SA060 flying over the Atlantic ocean (Photographed in 2018 by Akindele Olunloyo)
SAA Lagos-bound flight SA060 flying over the Atlantic ocean (Photographed in 2018 by Akindele Olunloyo)

What Does Verify Upon Arrival Mean?

“Verify on Arrival” is a passport endorsement, and a passport endorsement is a written note on the page(s) of your passport by an immigration official. As a temporary or permanent resident visa holder, your visa can be subjected to scrutiny by Home Affairs officials before you depart any of South Africa’s Port of exit. In fact, South Africa’s immigration officers have the right to question the validity of your permission to stay in South Africa. When this happens, the immigration officer at the departure section of the airport may leave a comment such as ‘verify on Arrival’ endorsement on your passport. This simply means that your authorization to stay in South Africa must be verified upon your arrival back to SA.

What this means is that the officer is not convinced that you are in possession of a genuine visa. It could also mean that your previously issued visa(s) may be fraudulent. You should know that these are grave immigration offenses if found to be true.

The Awaiting Drama At Lagos Airport

Even though you will be allowed to continue with your trip to Lagos, consequences await you! The resultant effect of this endorsement on your passport is that when you are departing Lagos, the airline staff at Lagos airport departure section will not allow you to board the aircraft back to South Africa. You may only be allowed if you buy a fresh return ticket that will permit you to fly from Johannesburg to Lagos. This is to ensure that the airline will not have to bear the cost of transporting you back to Lagos for free, should in case you are declared undesirable and processed for deportation on arrival at OR Tambo.

But don’t panic! I have listed some travel tips on how to plan ahead for these things. A few ideas are presented on how to address the Verify on Arrival Palava. I will also cover tips for issues that arise from your departure from O. R. Tambo airport, or Lagos airport staff shocking announcements and of course, how to handle your eventual arrival issues at O. R. Tambo.

O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photograph by Akindele Olunloyo)
O. R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photograph by Akindele Olunloyo)

7 Tips To Resolve ‘Verify On Arrival” Passport Endorsement

1. Always travel with your documents. This travel tip cannot be overstressed. Ensure you neatly pack all your travel documents in an envelope. Most importantly, these documents should be the ones you used for applying for your visas. Assuming you are traveling on a spousal visa, you may be requested to provide your spouse ID. Important documents such as business registration documents, SARS papers, marriage certificate, child(ren)’s birth certificates, etc must also not be left behind. For safety reasons, travel with recently (not less than 3 months) SAPS certified documents. You do not need to travel with your original documents for as long as you certify the photocopies.

2. Be calm. As simple as it sounds, being calm can save you headaches! Make sure that at every point of your interaction with law enforcement officers, stay cool, calm and collected! Answer all questions to the best of your knowledge and confidently.

3. If your visa authenticity is challenged, politely request for the immediate verification. If your flight will still take several hours to take off, request for the verification to be done. Better still, ask if you can go verify the document at the Home Affairs office within the airport complex.

4. If your request (as in #3 travel tip) is turned down, accept the officer’s judgment.

5. Visit South Africa’s High Commission in Lagos for authentication of your visa. If you manage to get the South African High Commission in Lagos to certify your visa as authentic, then the airline staff at Lagos airport will accept it and you may not need to buy a return ticket. Alternatively, you may visit VFS in Lagos or Abuja to advise you.

6. If you don’t want the wàhálà of traveling up and down across Naija, you may as well just buy your return ticket. To cut cost, ask the ticketing agent to find you specials.

7. Know your story on arrival. First thing first, be calm! And make sure you have all your documents handy. Upon seeing the verify on arrival endorsement on your passport, the immigration officer will definitely invite you to the interrogation room. Answer all the questions posed to you truthfully and confidently. Present supporting documents if requested. In most cases, and especially if your visa is authentic, you will stamped in and welcomed back to South Africa.

Conduct travel checklist before take off

Recap On Passport Endorsement

Immigration problems of any type are no joke. Take it seriously by arming yourself with travel tips such as this. In this article, we have discussed what Verify on Arrival passport endorsement means. A list of actionable travel tips to help you address this problem has also been provided. I wish you good luck as you travel. If you have had this experience, please let me know how it turns out in the comment section.

Akindele Olunloyo


I love travelling. I cherish my Lagos. And I adore my new home in Johannesburg. Lagostojozi Blog is my passion project which strives to promote cooperation, healthy relations and social cohesion between the people of these two great African megacities of Lagos and Johannesburg.

1 Comment
  1. I had the same issue in December going to Lagos from South Africa. The immigration officer put my passport and stamped verify upon arrival back to South Africa. Anyways coming back thanks to having my partner with me, I had no issue and I was stamped back. Anyways this is a night mare and am glad it’s over. Now I can travel the world and not have any stress of coming back to my adopted home South African

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