Foreign travel advice

South Africa

COVID-19 Exceptional Travel Advisory Notice

As countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including travel and border restrictions, the FCO advises British nationals against all but essential international travel. Any country or area may restrict travel without notice. If you live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad, you are strongly advised to return now, where and while there are still commercial routes available. Many airlines are suspending flights and many airports are closing, preventing flights from leaving.

Summary

Coronavirus: stay up to date

Cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) have been confirmed in South Africa. See information on measures introduced in South Africa to limit the spread of the virus. Find out how to return to the UK from South Africa.

See coronavirus travel advice for guidance on international travel.

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The South African Government announced on 25 March the closure of South African airspace to commercial airlines from midnight on 26 March until at least 16 April, as part of further efforts to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). You should consult your airline and travel insurance company immediately to understand what impact this will have for your travel plans. You should ensure you have accommodation for this entire period as some hotels may close at short notice. If you take regular medication, you should ensure you have a sufficient supply. If you have a booked return ticket after 17 April, ensure you have medication to last until the date of your flight, plus a few extra days to allow for travel disruption. See Coronavirus

Over 430,000 British tourists visit South Africa each year.

Most visits to South Africa are trouble-free, but a small number of British people encounter problems in South Africa. 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 Safety and security

There are special requirements for travelling with children to South Africa. Parents wishing to apply for a visa for their child to enter South Africa will need to submit additional documentation, set out in unaccompanied children entering South Africa. These are set out in this advisory from the South African Department of Home Affairs. If you have specific questions about these requirements, please consult your nearest South African High Commission or Embassy.

Contact your nearest South African High Commission or Embassy if you have any specific questions about your trip.

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

There are regular protest marches, demonstrations, and periodic incidents of public disorder across South Africa, which can become violent. These can occur anywhere, sometimes at short notice. You should avoid areas where protests, demonstrations or marches are taking place, especially in city centres and townships. Don’t attempt to cross protester roadblocks as this could provoke a violent reaction. You should monitor local and social media for updates.

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. The scams come in many forms including romance and friendship, business ventures and work or employment opportunities. Scams can pose great financial risk to victims. The British High Commission and Consulate General will never contact members of the public regarding personal financial matters including on behalf of any UK banks or other financial institutions. You should to report these calls to the police. See Safety and security

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

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.