Employment in Eswatini: everything a foreigner needs to know. Work visa and permit



Employment in Eswatini: everything a foreigner needs to know. Work visa and permit

The Kingdom of Eswatini is a small landlocked southern African country bordering South Africa and Mozambique. Emigrants who come with the purpose of employment  will find the country full of untouched nature and never more than a few hours' drive away from the luxuries of modern life. However, one of the world's last absolute monarchies, which critics say is stifling the country's economic growth, widespread poverty and crime present unexpected challenges for foreigners that should not be underestimated.

Keep reading the article to find out more about working abroad in the region.

Things to keep in mind

The Kingdom has a complex working and social environment. Social life is limited and the population tends to have very low income levels, leading to a decline in social activity. In addition, the country is a malaria zone and has one of the lowest living standards in the world. The majority of the country's local population lives in poverty and the health care system leaves much to be desired. Hospitals often face chronic shortages of essential medicines and supplies. There are several good private clinics and hospitals in the capital, but it is better to cross the border into South Africa for complex procedures and emergencies. It is important to take out comprehensive private health insurance before moving.

Labour market

Many growing industries and the government are focused on developing trade. The main industries are coal mining, timber, sugar and food products. The main trade is with South Africa due to their geographical connection.

Visa and work permit

In Eswatini there is a clear distinction between visas and permits. Entry visas are only issued for short-term visitors such as volunteers, tourists, business visitors and interns. Consequently, there is no 'work visa'. Any foreigner who wishes to stay to study or work must apply for a temporary residence permit.

A potential employer may employ a foreigner provided that he or she has not found a suitable candidate among the local population. In order to do so, it is necessary to allow sufficient time to read the vacancy notice.

Application process

The Immigration Department is responsible for issuing permits to foreigners who wish to enter the country. The decision to grant a permit according to the established requirements is made by a departmental committee.

Migrants must apply for a work permit from their country of residence, where they will await approval of the permit. It can take up to two months to prepare the application, as a police certificate is required. The permit is issued for a period of two years with the possibility of renewal. 

Documents required

To obtain residence and work documentation, the applicant will need to submit the following documents:

A properly completed application form;

Original police certificate from the country of origin;

Two passport photographs;

Medical references;

A letter of motivation from the employer;

Copies of qualifications related to the position, e.g. diploma;

Proof that the position has been open for a sufficiently long time.

Important subtleties

The permit is issued for a specific position in a specific company. Therefore, if you want to change your position or find a new job in another company, the permit becomes invalid and you will have to apply for a new one.


Foreign companies or individuals earning income in Eswatini are required to pay 15% withholding tax. However, withholding tax is only levied on income earned within the country.