South Africa’s borders have reopened!

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Update 12 November 2020: South Africa’s borders have now fully reopened to international travellers. On arrival in South Africa, travellers must show a valid certificate of a negative COVID test which was obtained not more than 72 hours before departure.

Update 19 October 2020: South African Department of Home Affairs revised list of “high-risk” countries

Original statement, 1 October 2020: The South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation announced the re-opening of borders and ports of entry for international travellers, effective 1 October 2020. While there are still many restrictions and limitations, we welcome this step forward in reopening tourism in South Africa. Her full statement is available here.

Highlights are:

  • Travellers intending to visit South Africa will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test.
  • Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.
  • Travellers will need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.
  • Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test.  This test will be at the traveller’s cost.  If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10 day quarantine at a designated site.  The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.

Who is allowed to enter South Africa?

South Africa has developed a risk categorisation model for different international travellers. This model classifies international travellers according to a scale of high, medium and low risk.  High risk travellers are those who come from countries with higher numbers of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.

Medium risk travellers are from countries with relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa and low risk travellers obviously originate from countries with lesser number of infections of COVID-19 and death toll than South Africa.

Leisure travellers from high risk countries will not be permitted.

The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and cultural events will undergo the same health protocol screenings.

If the passport of the traveller from a high risk country indicates that he/she has spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, he/she will be considered to be arriving from a low risk country.

Please note that this list is effective as at 1 October 2020, and government has stated it will be revised every two weeks.

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