Foreign travel advice

South Africa

Important Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel

It is illegal to travel abroad from the UK for holidays. Follow current COVID-19 rules where you live: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In England, you must have a permitted reason to travel abroad and complete the declaration form.

Some countries have closed borders, and any country may further restrict travel or bring in new social distancing rules with little warning. Check our advice for each country you will visit or transit through.

When you return, follow the rules to enter the UK from abroad (except from Ireland).

Summary

The FCDO advises against all but essential travel to the whole of South Africa based on the current assessment of COVID-19 risks.

COVID-19 entry restrictions for South Africa

Before you travel, check the ‘Entry requirements’ section for South Africa’s current entry restrictions and requirements. These may change with little warning. Monitor this advice for the latest updates and stay in contact with your travel provider.

Preparing for your return journey to the UK

South Africa is on the banned travel list red list. Check the requirements that apply for arrivals into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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 FCDO’s guidance on foreign travel insurance.

The South African government allows international travel to and from South Africa for any purpose, including tourism. However, the FCDO advises against all but essential travel to South Africa based on the assessment of COVID-19 risks. There are strict health protocols including curfews in place. If you choose to travel, you should ensure you understand and comply with these protocols before travelling. You should read Entry requirements in full before planning your travel.

The British and Irish Lions are due to tour South Africa in July and August 2021. Under current South African regulations, British fans will be allowed to enter South Africa, providing they comply with strict health protocols. See Entry requirements for more information. You should be aware of the possibility that entry requirements may change before the tour, and ensure you are insured in the event that regulations change.

Over 430,000 British tourists visited South Africa in 2019. 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 have taken place in other places, for example one leading to the death of a tourist 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.