Foreign travel advice

South Africa

Important COVID-19 travel guidance

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office currently advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Travel to some countries and territories is currently exempted.

This advice is being kept under constant review. Travel disruption is still possible and national control measures may be brought in with little notice, so check our travel guidance.

Summary

Travel to South Africa is subject to entry restrictions

  • UK nationals now require a visa to enter South Africa. These will only be issued in exceptional circumstances. You should get your visa from your local South African High Commission before you book travel.

  • South African nationals and foreign nationals with valid permanent residence permits for South Africa may enter South Africa.

  • If you are eligible for entry, you will be quarantined for 14 days after arrival.

See Entry requirements for more information before you plan to travel.

Return travel to the UK is subject to self-isolation requirements

If you’re returning to the UK, you will need to:

  • provide your journey and contact details
  • self-isolate for 14 days

Check the guidance on entering or returning to the UK.

Check our advice on foreign travel during the coronavirus pandemic and sign up for email alerts for this travel advice.

If you’re travelling to South Africa during coronavirus, see the Coronavirus page for more information.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it is more important than ever to get travel insurance and check your cover. See the FCO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

Commercial passenger flights to and from South Africa are unlikely to resume for some time. Until commercial passengers flights resume normally, you should check with your airline if they have permission from the South African authorities to fly to South Africa.

The British government has finished operating repatriation flights between South Africa and the UK. We are not planning any more of these flights.

Some other countries are still organising a limited number of repatriation flights, which British nationals can use to catch connecting flights to the UK. See Coronavirus page for more information.

Over 430,000 British tourists visit South Africa each year. Most visits are trouble-free, but a small number of British people encounter problems. You should take sensible precautions to protect your safety.

There is a high level of crime including rape and murder in South Africa. Most violent crimes tend to occur in townships, isolated areas and away from the normal tourist destinations. However, armed robberies, including one leading to the death of a tourist, have taken place on Table Mountain in Cape Town in recent years. See Crime

There are special requirements for travelling to South Africa with children under the age of 18. See Travelling with children

There are regular protest marches, demonstrations, and periodic incidents of public disorder across South Africa, which can become violent. See Protests and demonstrations

Beach conditions and local safety provisions vary considerably throughout the South African coastline and every year several people drown due to the strong sea currents. See Water safety

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa. See Terrorism

British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scam artists. See Fraud and scams

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.