Entry requirements

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in South Africa set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

Entry to South Africa

Strict health protocols are in place for international travellers to South Africa. You will need to produce a paper copy of a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 test to border officials upon arrival in South Africa. The test must have taken place no more than 72 hours before your departure. Children under 5 do not require a PCR test.

We advise that you carry several paper copies of your test, as you may need to present it more than once on your journey. If you do not present proof of a test upon arrival, you will be required to take a COVID-19 at your own expense and may be required to quarantine at your own cost. You will be asked to fill out a health questionnaire on the plane before you enter South Africa.

You should not use the NHS testing service to get a test in order to facilitate your travel to another country. You should arrange to take a private test.

Business travellers providing services across the borders between South Africa and the Southern African Development Community are allowed multiple entry subject to producing a certificate of negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure. This certificate is valid for 14 days. Note that this multiple entry rule does not apply to arrivals travelling by air, even within SADC. Entry and exit to South Africa via some land borders is restricted.

During the course of the pandemic, South Africa offered visa extensions for some nationals who found themselves unable to return to their country of origin. You are responsible for ensuring your legal immigration status in South Africa. Contact the Department of Home Affairs directly if you have concerns about your visa status.

If you have any questions about entering South Africa, you should speak to your local South African High Commission.

Transiting South Africa

It is possible to transit South Africa and travel to a third country via air. If you wish to transit through South Africa, you must bring a paper copy of a negative PCR COVID-19 test result. The test should not be older than 72 hours from the time of departure. We advise that you carry several paper copies of your test, as you may need to present it more than once on your journey. If you cannot produce a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test then you may have to quarantine at your own cost.

Screening on arrival

Screening processes have been introduced at all major ports of entry and departure, including airports, for arrivals, departures and transit passengers. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities. Additional screening may include temperature measurements and check on recent travel to affected areas. If you display any COVID-19 –related symptoms on arrival, or declare that you have been in contact with an infected person, you will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test at your own cost. If the COVID-19 test result is positive, you will need to go into self-isolation for ten days at your own cost.

Quarantine requirements

If you fail to produce a paper copy of a negative PCR test you will be required to do an antigen test on arrival at your own cost. If you test positive for Covid-19, you will be required to self-isolate in line with Government guidelines at your own cost for 10 days. Self-isolation is not required if you have provided the negative PCR test.

Data collection

The South African government requires you to complete a health declaration form with your details on arrival, including your address, contact information, and recent travel history.

Testing on departure

Screening processes have been introduced at all major ports of entry, including airports, for arrivals, departures and transit passengers. You should comply with any additional screening measures put in place by the authorities. Screening may include temperature measurements and check on recent travel to affected areas. If you feel unwell, you should not attempt to travel. Presenting at the airport with symptoms may result in you being sent to a government health facility for quarantine and further testing.

Regular entry requirements

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for at least 30 days beyond your intended date of exit from South Africa, in line with South African immigration regulations. However, some immigration officials still request that a passport should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entry to South Africa. To avoid problems at the airport on arrival, you’re advised to ensure your passport is valid for six months.

Travelling with children

There are special requirements for travelling to South Africa with children under the age of 18. There are different requirements for unaccompanied children entering South Africa.

Check the advisory from the South African Department of Home Affairs for more details, and consult your nearest South African high commission or embassy if you have any questions about these requirements.

Dual citizenship

If you hold South African citizenship, you must enter and exit South Africa on your South African passport. It is an offence for a South African citizen aged 18 or over to enter or leave the country on a foreign passport.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

South African authorities advise that UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETDs) are accepted for entry, transit and exit from South Africa.

ETDs should have a minimum of 6 months validity for entry, transit or exit.

Biometric capturing

South Africa has implemented biometric capturing at all ports of entry. This may result in some delays at land borders. You should allow additional time for border crossings. See ‘Entry Rules In Response to Coronavirus’ for the latest information about South Africa’s land borders.

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.