Local laws and customs

Always carry a copy of your passport data page and the page containing your visitors permit or residence permit for South Africa. You may need to produce valid identification and proof of legal residence in the country on request by South African officials.

It’s safer to keep your passport in a hotel safe or another secure location rather than carry it on your person unless you need it for official identification purposes such as for domestic air travel or conducting business at a bank.

Drug-taking and smuggling is an offence.

It’s illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a permit. South Africa is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under which there’s a ban on the international commercial trade in ivory and rhino horn. Anyone caught buying or trafficking banned goods will be prosecuted and receive prison sentences and/or fines.

Homosexuality is legal, and the South African authorities have introduced legislation which bans any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.