Travel Restrictions for South Africa: Coronavirus and Limitations

coronavirus south africa travel restrictions

South Africa welcomes millions of international visitors every year and encourages new arrivals.

That is why the government is currently testing a new electronic visa to help foreigners obtain a permit to travel to South Africa online in minutes, making holiday planning fast and hassle-free.

Of course, the South African authorities have certain travel restrictions and limitations in place to ensure the safety of South African citizens and everyone in the country. Moreover, temporary urgent measures can also be taken if the situation requires it. That is why both locals and foreigners alike should always check for official announcements from the government.

Travelers will find useful information on this page regarding South African travel restrictions — both permanent and temporary. That includes the extraordinary measures taken to fight the coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus and South Africa: Restrictions Now Being Eased

The spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak across the globe led the World Health Organization to define COVID-19 as a pandemic. For this reasons, governments worldwide have been taking steps to minimize the risk of further contagion.

A nationwide lockdown began on March 26th, 2020, during this time non-essential services were not able to open, schools were closed and public gatherings banned. Residents could only leave their homes during the lockdown to access health services, shop for essential goods, and attend small funerals of no more than 50 people.

All of South Africa’s borders were closed during the lockdown and international and national flights prohibited. The easing of lockdown restrictions began on May 1st as the government implemented a phased de-escalation plan.

On June 1st the nation moved into phase 3 of a 5-phase process which means that some business and public spaces are reopening.

Although borders remain closed for the time being, international flights are permitted in specific circumstances including to return to a place or permanent residence or place of work or study outside of South Africa. Such travelers should inform the Department of Home Affairs 5 days before the intended travel date.

Domestic air travel has also returned except for recreational and leisure purposes.

Since restrictions on international travel were introduced, foreigners in South Africa who overstay their visitor visas will not be penalized when they depart.

Staying in South Africa during Coronavirus

Foreigners in South Africa during the COVID-19 outbreak should follow the advice of medical experts:

  • Wash their hands frequently with warm water and soap
  • Use hand sanitizer when water and soap are not available
  • Wear a face mask on public transport
  • Avoid contact with infected people
  • Cover their face with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing

Other Travel Restrictions for South Africa

Of course, other permanent travel restrictions apply. Normally, all foreigners that complete visa applications for South Africa accurately and submit all relevant documents are granted their permit swiftly.

All those entering South Africa must have an eligible passport with at least 30-day validity after their intended date of departure. Should the passport expire before then, travelers may be prevented from entering the country.

Other requirements that must be met by foreign nationals include:

  • Health. Some passengers are obliged to provide documentation such as a yellow fever vaccination certificate
  • Travel plans. Foreign citizens may be required to provide proof of their intention to leave South Africa after their trip (typically, this may be a return or onward ticket).
  • Sufficient funds. Travelers’s financial means must be sufficient to support them for the entirety of their time in South Africa. Some may be asked to provide proof in the form of a bank statement, credit card, or cash.
  • Good character. Those with criminal convictions or a history of deportation from other countries may be prevented from entering.

Not meeting the above requirements and not showing the relevant documentation if asked may result in being denied entry.