Foreign travel advice

South Africa

Summary

Following reports of disruptions to flights between South Africa and Zimbabwe we advise those intending to travel to check with their airlines first.

There is a very high level of crime including rape and murder in South Africa. The most violent crimes tend to occur in townships, remote and isolated areas and away from the normal tourist destinations. Most visits to South Africa are trouble-free, but you should take sensible precautions to protect your safety. Crime increases in areas where large crowds gather, so be particularly vigilant if you’re attending sporting or other events that attract large numbers. See Safety & security.

Protest marches and demonstrations can occur anywhere in South Africa and sometimes at short notice. Avoid areas where demonstrations and marches are taking place, especially universities and government buildings.

There are student protests at university campuses and their surrounding areas across South Africa, some of which have turned violent. Don’t attempt to cross protester roadblocks as this could provoke a violent reaction. You should monitor local and social media for updates.

Immigration rules require parents travelling with children (under 18) to show the child’s full unabridged birth certificate (or a certified copy). The full unabridged birth certificate should list the child’s details and both parents’ details. The abridged (short) birth certificate which only lists the child’s particulars won’t be accepted. The South African Department of Home Affairs are not accepting uncertified copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents/guardians identification. There are additional requirements if the child is travelling with only the one parent, with neither biological parent, or unaccompanied. See Entry requirements

From 26 May 2014, if you live in South Africa, you must have a valid residence permit when you enter and leave the country. Instead of fining those whose permits have expired, you may be blacklisted and prevented from applying for a visa to re-enter South Africa for a period from 12 months to 5 years. See Entry requirements

There have been incidents involving foreigners being followed from OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to their destinations by car and then robbed, often at gunpoint. Be vigilant in and around the airport and when driving away.

The standard of driving is variable and there are many fatal accidents. See Road travel

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

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

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.