Travel advisory in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa is issuing this Travel Advisory in light of the announcement on 16 March 2020 by the Government declaring a State of National Disaster. The State of National Disaster entails that restrictions on entry, movement and exit will be prescribed in Regulations to be issued by the responsible Ministers. As high- and medium-risk countries are identified and the status of countries changes, Travel Alerts will be issued to communicate such changes and the measures applicable.
South African citizens
South African citizens planning to travel or transit through the Italian Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, the Swiss Confederation and the People’s Republic of China presently identified as high risk countries, as well as the European Union, should refrain from doing so. This includes all forms of travel to or through identified high- risk countries. South African citizens are also to refrain from traveling on cruise ships due to the inherent risks involved in such travel as recent experiences have shown. This is effective immediately, until further notice. Non-essential travel to other countries should also be cancelled or postponed.
South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.
South African citizens should be aware that there are health risks when they travel and should check the travel and health notices for COVID-19 at their destinations. Increased health screening measures at ports of entry for international destinations, which may include entry requirements, border closures, flight suspensions and quarantines, can be expected.
South African citizens should contact the South African Mission/Consulate in the country of their destination, to inform them of their presence in the country and provide them with information such as contact details, duration of stay, etc.
All entry, regardless of compliance with visa requirements, of foreign travellers with ordinary passports, travelling from or transiting through high-risk countries presently identified as the Italian Republic, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Spain, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the French Republic, the Swiss Confederation and the People’s Republic of China is prohibited until further notice. No applications for visas by foreign travellers from high-risk countries will be approved. Visas already issued are revoked with immediate effect for travellers that have not yet entered South Africa.
Visa waiver agreements with countries identified by the Department of Health as high- and medium-risk will be suspended from dates that will be advised through Travel Alerts.
Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa.
Any foreign national affected by these travel restrictions who needs to travel to South Africa for emergency or compelling reasons may contact the nearest South African mission or consulate to apply for a visa. Such visa applications will be considered on merit and on a case-by-case basis.
The above restrictions exclude holders of diplomatic passports and travel documents issued by international organisations as well as their family members accredited to the Republic of South Africa, and holders of official/service passports. The travel restrictions will also not apply to the crew members of aircraft and cargo ships, as well as cross border rail and road transportation workers. However, such travellers will be subjected to medical screening and if required, can be isolated or quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days.
All international travellers
All international travellers, including South African citizens, entering South Africa will be required to complete and submit the prescribed Health Form and hand it to Health officials and Immigration officers upon arrival.
All travellers will be subjected to medical screening for COVID-19 upon entering South Africa and if required, can be isolated or quarantined for a minimum period of 14 days. Over and above the normal immigration requirements, entry into South Africa is subject to a passenger’s cooperation with officials conducting tests.
Travellers from medium-risk countries as identified by the South African Department of Health will be required to undergo high intensity screening.
All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since 15 February 2020 will be required to present themselves for testing.
South Africa has placed restrictions on attendance of international meetings. All organisers or attendees of international meetings are strongly advised to confirm whether attendance will be permitted before travelling to South Africa.
More information is available on the following links regarding precautionary measures to be taken to halt the spread of COVID-19:
World Health Organisation:
Department of Health, South Africa: http://www.health.gov.za/index.php/outbreaks/145-corona-virus-outbreak/465- corona-virus-outbreak
For any inquiries related to this Travel Advisory, contact the 24 hours operations centre of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation at +27 12 351 1000. Information is also available on the website of the Department at www.dirco.gov.za.