CAO My Application

CAO stands for Central Applications Office. It is a South African organization responsible for the processing of all applications for undergraduate admission to public universities. You can apply to CAO through their online application portal.

Click here to Access CAO My Application. Click here for ‘Study Options for Me’ – Enter your CAO number, ID number or Results to see what programmes you may qualify for at our member institutions.

How to apply to CAO in South Africa:

  1. Create an account on the CAO website.
  2. Enter your personal information, including your name, surname, contact information, and academic qualifications.
  3. Choose the universities that you want to apply to.
  4. Submit your application and pay the application fee.

Once you have submitted your application, CAO will send it to the universities that you have chosen. The universities will then review your application and make a decision on whether or not to admit you.


How to apply as an international applicant?

An international applicant is a person who is not a citizen or permanent resident of South Africa, or a refugee/asylum seeker with a permit allowing study. The higher education institutions of KwaZulu-Natal welcome applications from international applicants for their formal degree, diploma and certificate programmes. Some institutions also offer the opportunity to study in South Africa for one semester or one year. DUT and UKZN do not accept international applicants into their access programmes. Applications to study Medicine at UKZN are consider ONLY from citizens of Lesotho and Mauritius and applicants must apply via their governments. You will require a study permit if you wish to come to South Africa to study. This does not apply to distance learning students who study in their home countries.

Where do I send my application as an international applicant?

If you are applying for short-term study, apply directly to the institution.

If you are applying to UKZN only, apply directly to the institution.

For other institutions and choices at more than one institution, apply through the CAO. Email to or fax to +27 31 268 4422.

Study Permits

Once you have a letter offering you a place from the further or higher education institution, you can apply to the South African embassy, high commission, consulate or trade office for your study permit. The permit application will take up to eight weeks to be processed. Acceptance by an institution does not place any obligation on the South African government to issue or renew study permits. DO NOT leave home before your study permit is granted – you will not be allowed to study on a visitor’s permit. You cannot apply for your first permit after you arrive in South Africa. People who are in South Africa for study purposes are not eligible to apply for South African citizenship. Refugee and asylum seeker applicants require documentation from the Department of Home Affairs granting permission to study in South Africa.

Foreign qualifications

The following are considered to be equivalent to the South African degree entry requirements:


Five passes in GCE including two at `A` level:

  • “A” level passes must be A, B, C, D or E
  • “O” level passes must be A, B or C

Five passes in GCE as well as four at AS levell:

  • “A” level passes must be A, B, C, D or E;
  • “O” level passes must be A, B or C; and
  • “AS” level passes must be A, B, C or D.
  • HIGCSE passes must be 1, 2 or 3
  • IGCSE passes must be A, B or C

Tips for applying to CAO in South Africa:

  • Start your application early. The application deadline is usually in November, but it is best to start early so that you have plenty of time to complete your application and gather all of the required documentation.
  • Make sure that you meet the eligibility requirements for the universities that you are applying to. The eligibility requirements for each university vary, so it is important to check with the universities directly.
  • Submit a well-written personal statement. Your personal statement is an opportunity for you to tell the universities about yourself and why you are interested in attending their university. Make sure that your personal statement is well-written and free of errors.
  • Get letters of recommendation from your teachers or other professionals who know you well. Letters of recommendation can help to give the universities a better understanding of your qualifications and potential.
  • Pay the application fee on time. The application fee is usually around R200. You can pay the application fee online or by mail.

Once you have submitted your application, you will need to monitor your application status through the CAO website. You will be notified of the decision of each university by email.