South Africa Travel Alerts and Warnings

Coronavirus (COVID-19) and travel: The situation around the world is changing dramatically. Various governments have changed their travel warnings to restrict travel during this time. To understand how this may impact cover under your policy, please go to our FAQs and select your country of residence.

For the latest travel warnings and alerts around the world, read about lockdowns and border restrictions.

Borders are open to some foreign travelers from 1 October. Find out how coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions may impact your trip to South Africa.

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Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, South Africa Photo © Getty Images/Westend61

Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel restrictions in South Africa – updated 1 October, 2020

Borders open from 1 October

From 1 October, South Africa has partially reopened to inbound and outbound tourism.

Only travelers from countries deemed safe based on the epidemiological situation will be allowed to enter. The risk-based model will be placing countries in high, medium and low risk categories.

Leisure travelers from high risk countries (identified here) will not be permitted, unless they have spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, and they will be considered as arriving from a low risk country.

Travelers from medium and low risk countries are allowed to travel, and are subject to the usual visa requirements.

Requirements to enter

  • Eligible travelers must present a medical certificate confirming a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 that is less than 72 hours old at the time of departure
  • Everyone must install a government contact tracing app and show proof of a confirmed accommodation booking
  • On arrival, everyone will undergo a health screening, and people showing COVID-19 symptoms will be tested. If the test result is positive, they will be quarantined in government facilities
  • International travelers are required to have mandatory travel insurance that covers the cost of a COVID-19 test (for those showing symptoms) and quarantine costs
  • South African missions abroad will open for visa applications, and all long-term visas will be reinstated. Contact your local South African High Commission for more information.

Passengers can only land at three international airports: Cape Town (CPT), Durban (DUR) or Johannesburg (JNB). There are 18 land borders operating.

These travel alerts are general in nature. Contact your airline or travel provider for information on the availability of flights.

Local restrictions in South Africa

Nationwide lockdown began on 26 March, and the State of Disaster has been extended to 15 October.

A risk-based, five-level approach to easing lockdown restrictions is being rolled out. The country has moved to Alert level 1 from 21 September. Restrictions include curfew hours and limits on public gatherings, and you must follow the advice of authorities.

A curfew is in place from 12am (midnight) to 4am, and cloth face masks are mandatory in public across South Africa.

Wondering how your travel insurance might be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak? Find answers to some of our common questions about COVID-19.

Listen to The World Nomads Podcast: South Africa

Riots in Johannesburg, September 2019

There have been recent attacks on foreign-owned shops in and around Johannesburg, leading to sometimes deadly riots. Be extra careful if you are traveling to Johannesburg or other major cities in South Africa, as tensions may arise. Keep up to date with local news and avoid protests, demonstrations and stay away from any violence if you see it occur on the streets. Here are a few tips on what to do if you are traveling in a country experiencing civil unrest

Severe Drought in Cape Town: January 2018

Cape Town is currently experiencing a serious drought. When and if the dams drop below a certain level (“Day Zero”), taps will be shut off, and residents will have to line up to collect daily water rations. As of December 18, based on consumption and expected rainfall, Day Zero was projected to be April 29, 2018.

Water restrictions are now in place, limiting residents to 87 liters per person per day, but this might not be enough to avert a crisis.

Travelers to Cape Town should be aware of the situation, and do their part by following the rules laid out in the city's Save Like a Local campaign – these include re-using towels, limiting showers to two minutes, and seeking out accommodations that have water-saving measures in place.

Warning 4th June 2016: Possible Terror Attack

The US government has advised that it has received information that terror groups plan to attack places where US citizens gather such as shopping centers and malls in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The US warning says the threat is "near-term" and linked it to the worldwide call by ISIS for its followers to carry out attacks during the month of Ramadan.

This year Ramadan begins on the night of June 6th and lasts 30 days until July 5th.

Before you buy a travel insurance policy, check your government travel warnings and health advice – there may be no travel insurance cover for locations with a government travel ban or health advice against travel.

Get a travel insurance quote for South Africa

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47 Comments

  • Precious Gouldem said

    Hi.

    I live in Pretoria but want to travel to Cape Town. Do I need a permit?

    Reply

    • Jayne Minne said

      My husband resides in Zambia (working there). Myself and our 2 young boys are based in Durban South Africa. Due to covid we have not been able to see my husband for 4/months. He would love to come and visit us under family reunion however cannot afford to be in quarantine for 2 weeks then only see us as this takes him away from work for too long. Would he be allowed to self isolate at home in Durban and what permit would he apply for?

      Please help.

      Kindest regards

      Jayne Minne

      Reply

      • Raphael said

        I am working with the United Nations in Tanzania

        I would like to travel from Tanzania to Durban to visit my 2 young boys studying in Durban.

        Due to covid we have not been able to see my them since January 2020.

        I cannot to be in quarantine for 2 weeks because I have my own house in Durban.

        Would I be allowed to self isolate at home in Durban ?

        Your guidance will be much appreciated.

        Thanks

        Reply

        • Joubert said

          I am currently in Kazakhstan, my fiance is Kazak. I am returning to SA middle of Sep 2020. We have contacted the South African embassy in Kazakhstan but the reply is that there is no way that she can get a Visa, we need a 90 day Visa so that we can get to SA and get married in SA and then applying for partnership Visa. Please anyone that can provide assistance or mail address will highly be appreciated.

          Reply

  • Sue said

    I am a South African citizen resident in Madrid, Spain and want to travel to South Africa in September to attend my daughter’s wedding (we’ll be just family and close friends, about 10 people in total). Am I allowed to travel for this reason (I understand I would have to self-isolate)?

    Reply

    • Kris said

      My daughter is in the UK and is 5 months pregnant. Things have not worked out there. She wants to come back home to Cape Town. But her passport has lapsed in Feb 2020. Can she still enter SA with an expired passport? It will be a repatriation flight which we can organise. But we need assurances that she can re-enter on an expired SA Passport. Can you advise please? Many thanks.

      Reply

  • Adeel said

    hi i am working in south africa but now i am in pakistan i want ro come back to south africa what i have to do ?

    Reply

  • Nigel said

    My Fiance lives in Germany.. and i havent seen her in 5months.. according to the German Travel federation - spouses and partners are aloud to enter Germany from today- 10 August 2020.. i have a valid Visa for a year.
    Am i allowed to travel now from South Africa? If so, When? And how do i go about it..?

    Reply

    • Michael said

      Hi. I've been booked to work in the UAE, starting September 10. Is there a way of getting a visa and a flight to UAE.

      Reply

    • Terry said

      My mother is currently in South Africa for a visit that was scheduled to end in April, she really wants to go back to Cameroon, can she be allowed to leave South Africa as the airports in Cameroon are open

      Reply

  • Tippie Enslin said

    Coming back from Zambia end of September! Is quarantine necessary and can you self isolate?

    Reply

    • Amelia Brady said

      Hi Tippie,

      Currently, anyone eligible to enter is subject to medical screening, must complete a health form providing their contact details, and will be quarantined upon arrival for 14 days in a state appointed facility.

      As your return isn't until end of September, these requirements may change. Stay across these travel alerts, as we are updating them regularly with the latest information when it becomes available.

      Cheers,
      Amelia, World Nomads

      Reply

  • Kate Wardle said

    Hi,

    I am in need of assistance.
    My partner and I have been separated since the beginning of January and due to travel restrictions, we have not been able to reunite. She is from Brazil but currently living in the US, and I am in South Africa.
    I am desperate to find out if there are any ways for us to see each other again. These harsh travel bans are completely unfair for loved ones who have been separated. People's relationships should not be classified as tourism.

    Any help or guidance would be appreciated.

    Reply

    • Amelia Brady said

      Hi Kate,

      The South African authorities are granting visas in exceptional circumstances. Ask your partner to try contacting their local South African High Commission based in the USA to request a visa for travel to South Africa in advance. Perhaps under your circumstances their visa will be approved to enter South Africa.

      Alternatively you could try investigating if it's possible to enter the USA. Contact your local US embassy based in South Africa to see if this is possible under your circumstances.

      All the best,
      Amelia, World Nomads

      Reply

  • babar ali said

    Hi I m South African and living in Johannesburg Bruma and now I'm with my wife and 4 years old son in USA since 10 of feb 2020 and my 2 kids age of 9 and 10 years old still back home in Johannesburg please I am in need of assistance to come back to Johannesburg to reunite my kids,
    I tried many time to contact to South African embassy in usa but no one to help us please try find the way out for us.
    thank you very much

    Reply

    • Amelia Brady said

      Hi Babar,

      Sorry to hear you are finding trouble reuniting with your children. These travel alerts are general in nature, and we aren't able to help with these types of queries.

      A travel agent should be able to provide assistance for personal circumstances like these.

      All the best,
      Amelia, World Nomads

      Reply

  • Crismarie Adlem said

    I'm South African 18 years old , and an exhange student here in the US and also currently working , it's been over 7 months now .
    My sponsor just keeps on telling me that there's no way back home over the next year .
    Working over my hours than what was expected before covid .
    I miss my family and I'm so worried about them , is there any way I can travel back soon ?
    Thanks .
    Crissie .

    Reply

    • Amelia Brady said

      Hey Crissie,

      Sorry to hear you're having trouble getting back home.

      These travel alerts are general in nature, and provide information that has been announced by official government travel advisories. Unfortunately, we aren't able to help with any personal circumstances.

      Stay up to date with information from the South African government, or get in touch with your local South African High Commission to see if you are eligible for a visa for travel to South Africa.

      All the best,
      Amelia, World Nomads

      Reply

  • Bb said

    How is everyone in south africa so impaired that they dont see what is going on? Does no one in the country have contact with the outside world? The hospitals are empty, and they are arresting people for drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. There are power outages, and companies are trying to capitalise with phrases like #funwithloadshedding. While people are unable to work. As it turns out they are allowed to refuse for passports to be printed. Are people not starting to put two and two together? I know education is a big problem in this country but common...

    Reply

  • John said

    Hi there. I am a UK citizen living in UK at the moment, however, I have a 3 year Visitor Visa that I received prior to lockdown. I normally volunteer for an NGO in South Africa, but I went home for a short holiday. I am now stuck in the UK and want to get to South Africa. What would be the best thing for me to do?

    Reply

  • Riette Gasser said

    My fiance is British in England and I'm here in Jhb. Haven't seen each other since 3 Jan 2020. It's incredibly painful to not have any idea when we'll be able to see each other again. He has commitments there with his kids, and I here with mine. Where can we find list / contact info for SA High Comission in England?

    Reply

  • Abduo said

    Hi everyone.
    I am Libyan but I am married to south african and I am in Libya now and I have a visa valid for 2 years married visa???

    Am I allowed to travel to south africa and be with my south african wife??

    Thank you for the help

    Reply

  • Luigi Bianco said

    I am a South African living in the states and would like to return during October for a few weeks, is that possible

    Reply

    • Willem said

      I have the same question as Luigi. We are SA citizens returning on 8th October to SA from the USA.
      Will we be required to quarantine for 14 days?

      Reply

      • Amelia Brady said

        Hi Willem and Luigi,

        As it stands, upon entering South Africa, you will be quarantined for 14 days in a state appointed facility. These are normally hotels, but may sometimes be state facilities.

        Requirements may change by the time October comes around. Sign up for updates from your airline or Government travel advisory for the latest info.

        All the best,
        Amelia, World Nomads

        Reply

  • Posh said

    Hi.

    I am a South African my fiance is British, we haven't seen each other since September it's absolutely hard breaking to be separated from your life partner not knowing when you'll meet again, hopefully soon they will be more exceptions in place for those separated as love is no tourism.

    Reply

  • Lesley said

    Please can someone help my fiance is in the UK i am in South Africa his flight is booked and paid for for the 1st of October...we are getting married on the 10th of October...he has his expired sa passport and his SA id and birth certificate..we are so stressed his mom has also being ill and i am hoping borders will be open by then..i just can not understand why they did not open already..this is getting beyond a joke..can anyone please advise....

    Reply

  • Noleen Yenkiah said

    Hi everyone.
    I am South African but I am married to Libyan and I he is in Libya now and I has a valid visa ( temporary residence visa) valid for 2 years married visa???

    Will he be allowed to travel who can we contact will south Africa allow my husband to come to South Africa, this is so unfair people are allowed to return to family and loved ones except people like us who have foreign spouses wishing to return back to us , i am a newly wed and now i will spend my 1 wedding anniversary without my husband, he is also in a place where is so costly and expensive and the living conditions is not safe and financially its having a huge impact on both of us.

    Please help with some direction please

    Thank you for the help

    Reply

  • Amelia Brady said

    Hi everyone,

    There are a few questions coming in that are related to very personal circumstances.

    Please contact your local South African High Commission to request a visa in advance if you wish to travel to South Africa. Unfortunately, we are unable to help with specific inquiries like these, however your local High Commission should be able to help out.

    All the best,
    Amelia, World Nomads

    Reply

  • Deanne Davis said

    My husband started working in Malawi in January and was due to come home in March..due to travel restrictions he has been unable to and hasn't sene the family for 6 months. He is desperate to come home for a visit but doenst get a long enough leave to quarantine for 2 weeks before coming home to PE.
    Would he be able to quarantine at home?

    Reply

  • Trevor Williams said

    I am currently working in Germany and My family is in South Africa I would like to go and visit them for 3 weeks and then return to Germany. Would this be possible in September?

    Reply

  • Musa babatunde said

    Good day, Am a Nigerian on Study Visa in SA, my country will be open for international flight by 29th August, can i travel to my country without South Africa boarder been opened??? Thank you.

    Reply

  • Geoff Drew said

    I just want to return on my Turkey Airlines ticket that was suspended in April. That is back to South Africa Johannesburg. ASAP September.

    Reply

  • Chéreen Matthews said

    Hi there.

    After reading all info regarding international flights, I am still confused about something.

    Please help me out...

    If you are wanting to Travel from the US now, on a work based application, will that still be accepted?
    If you already have a ticket to come here, what will happen if you come her without that needed Visa?

    Is that even possible right now?

    Reply

    • Amelia Brady said

      Hi Chéreen,

      Foreign nationals are not allowed to enter South Africa, and as far as I can tell online it is not possible get a new visa approved for South Africa – especially if you are traveling from high-risk countries. I have updated our travel alert to include a specific section with more details around visa restrictions that I have found on the South African tourism website: https://www.southafrica.net/gl/en/trade/category/coronavirus-covid-19-south-african-tourism-update/travel-getting-around

      Take a look at the COVID-19 information from US embassy in South Africa, and get in touch with your consulate for more information on your personal situation: https://za.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information-2/

      One particular segment of the information reads "Once commercial flights resume, please do not plan travel to South Africa until you speak to the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate in the United States to determine current entry restrictions. We have no information on when commercial flights will resume, or if visa restrictions will be lifted. "

      All the best,
      Amelia, World Nomads

      Reply

  • pamela said

    my daughter needs to go back in two weeks time,to the UK, is this possible
    she is a student at the university in bristol, All schools and university start in september.
    Right now she is paying accomodation for nothing, just want to know if she can go back

    many thanks

    Reply

  • Vanyck said

    I am stuck in South Africa , I want to return to my country ( I come from Gabon , I’m a student ) . I have contacted my embassy but they ignored me

    Reply

  • Ummi Nusaybah said

    Hi I hope you are doing well 😊

    I really need your help we are south African my husband and I and our 5 month old baby we are booked to come home to South Africa in late November with latam airways from Brazil on a normal flight not repatriation one. what are the chances that the South African borders will be open?? pls I need your assistance ASAP.

    Thanks 👍😊

    Reply

  • Xolelwa said

    Hi am stack in Zambia with my 2 sons am from South African my days of my passport exp long time on March i want to go home i left my son hes 14 years old long story am ready anytime to go home

    Reply

  • Cherie Lubbe said

    Good day,

    Im working in China and would like to visit my Family middle Jan 2021, I hold a South African passport. I only have 3 weeks holiday in that time. How can i apply for home isolation ? I live in Zhuhai and we havent had any cases for 5 months.

    Please guide me on how to do apply for home isolation.

    Many thanks

    Reply

  • Mr Wee Magdoo said

    Hi I'm from Johannesburg , South Africa, I would like to know if it's possible for me to travel to San Diego, USA for a medical treatment?
    Are there any restrictions?

    Reply

  • Rhoda Carol said

    Hi. I would like to ask if I can now travel to the USA to be my fiancé. Befor this pandemic started we had made wedding plans but everything changed. I have a 10 year U.S.A. Visa. Will I be able to travel now? Then come back home and he would patition for me to come back to the USA as his lawful wife

    Reply

  • DOUGLAS LOHRENTZ said

    we need to travel to Swaziland for business , do we need to have a Covid Test done prior to entering Swaziland and upon return do we have to self quarantine for 14 days?

    Reply

  • Olivier Attias said

    Hello,
    I'm a french citizen, I was working in Uganda and I was repatriated to France a month ago. My wife is south african living in Joburg, and I didnt see her since february..we are married since 10 years and I let my spouse permit expired for stupid reasons..When will i be able to go back home? We are waiting for that list since a week and we still don't know if France will be on the banned country, is there a way for me to be able to come back to finally my family? Thanks for your answer..

    Reply

  • Brigitte Bartschi said

    Good morning
    Ian a South African citizen living in Cape Town. I am visiting my sons in Zürich, Switzerland at the moment and am returning to Cape Town with KLM on October 7, via Amsterdam. Can I self isolate at home? I have no symptoms and have taken care in Zürich by wearing a mask as much as possible. Otherwise, could I have a COVID test done in Cape Town instead of here in Switzerland?

    Reply

  • Tamlin Fredericks said

    I am south african and my fiance is uk citizen he went back for a short period in January but unfortunately couldn't come back to SA due to lockdown. We have a family here in SA ,what are his chances of coming back to SA .. Or please van you advice who we can speak to let him back into the country .

    Reply

  • Priscilla Matthews said

    I am a South African resident living in US. I lost my mother in March and I couldn't come to my mother's funeral. I am allowed to come home. I am prepared to do all the covid requirements.

    Reply

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