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SOUTH AFRICA TRAVEL INFORMATION



Please be aware that information on this page is correct at the time of writing. However, regulations do change and it is important to consult your local embassy for updated information about travel and visa requirements.

Accommodation in South Africa
South Africa is a popular destination and to avoid disappointment, bookings should be made well in advance. The busiest times are during the South African School Holidays.

The Tourism Grading Council of South Africa (TGCSA) awards establishments that join the scheme, between 1-5 stars depending on the facilities (and various other factors which are taken into account).  The grading system is allocated across hotels, guest houses/lodges, bed & breakfasts and camping establishments.
Top-end hotels in SA are world class as are stylish boutique hotels which have become prevalent in the past few years. Guest Houses, Lodges, Bed and Breakfast and Camp Sites are plentiful and can be found in the urban and rural areas throughout South Africa. 

Passport & Visa Requirements for South Africa

Passport
A current passport is required for international travel to South Africa with at least 2 consecutive blank pages and valid for 6 months from date of arrival.

Visas
Visa Regulations to South Africa can and do change - it is advisable to contact your local travel agent or the South African Embassy in your area for information on the latest Visa Requirements. Alternatively, please view the information on the Department of Home Affairs website on www.dha.gov.za.
In addition to the above, you will need:

  • Sufficient Funds
  • A return or onward ticket
  • Yellow Fever Certificate (if you arrive in South Africa from a country in the Yellow Fever belt which includes most of central and West Africa and much of South America.  Immigration officials may refuse you entry if you cannot prove that you have been vaccinated.  The vaccination must have occurred 10 days prior to arrival in SA.
    New Rules for Travelling with Children into and out of South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) in South Africa has announced new, strict procedures for parents traveling with children under the age of 18 years in and out of South Africa.
With effect from 1 June 2015, all adults traveling with children will need to produce a copy of an unabridged birth certificate for each child they are traveling with, among other documents. This new regulation is line with the Department of Home Affairs efforts to limit the incidents of child trafficking.

Applying for an unabridged birth certificate
The application process for an unabridged certificate is simple, but clients need to know that although there has previously been a six to eight week waiting period, this process could take anything from three to six months.

One parent traveling with a child


In instances where one parent is travelling with a child for any reason, whether as a single parent, or merely in the absence of the other parent, the following documents must be produced for immigration officials:

A copy of an unabridged birth certificate


An affidavit from the other parent or legal guardian of the child, confirming their consent for the accompanying adult to travel with the child


Single parents are required to produce a court order (and not just an affidavit) granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child, and
 If applicable, a death certificate of a deceased parent must be produced

Adult traveling with a child who is not his or her biological child


There are many instances where adults may need to travel with children who are not their biological children. This could be for family, school or religious reasons. In instances where an adult is traveling with a child who is not his or her biological child, the following documents must be produced for immigration officials:

A copy of an unabridged birth certificate
• An affidavit from the parents or legal guardians of the child, confirming their consent for the accompanying adult to travel with the child


Copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardians of the child


Contact details of the parents or legal guardians of the child.

Where one or two adults are traveling with a large group of children, the adults must have these documents for each child traveling. Although not required, it may be a good idea for the adults to have a letter from the trip organisers, giving authority to these adults to attend to these children.

An unaccompanied minor
Even though a child of 16 or 17 can travel comfortably on their own from one country to another, the DHA requires that an unaccompanied minor produce the following documents to the immigration officials:

Proof of consent from one or both of his or her parents or legal guardian, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa;

In the case where one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide a copy of a court order issued to him or her in terms of which he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child;

  • A letter from the person who is to receive the child in the destination country, containing his or her residential address and contact details where the child will be residing;
  • A copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the destination country; and
the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child in the country of origin.
  • These regulations should be considered when children want to apply for exchange programmes, or even when visiting family within southern Africa or neighbouring countries.
  • Given that the legal age in South Africa is 18, all children below this age fit into the new regulations.
  • They are also applicable to all parents, regardless of whether both parents are accompanying the children at the time of traveling or not, and to non-South African passport holders traveling in and out of the country.
  • Parents/Guardians preparing to travel out of the country with their children should make urgent plans to apply for the relevant documents to ensure that they are prepared to travel under these new regulations.
  • The Department urges citizens and foreign nationals to heed the call to apply for unabridged birth certificates for children. An unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents is required in terms of the Immigration Regulation 6 (12) (a) for children traveling with parents.
  • Customers can also visit the South African Department of Home Affairs website (www.dha.gov.za) for further clarity on the new regulations.


Import Restrictions for South Africa


An import permit is required for seeds, fruit, flowers, honey and vegetable oils.

An import permit and declaration on arrival is required for meat (including processed meats), cheese and dairy products. All medication (except for personal use) requires an import permit.
Prohibited:

  • Narcotic drugs
  • Flick Knives
  • Explosives
  • Pornography

Free import/Allowances;
200 cigarettes, 50 cigars and 250 grams of tobacco (limited to visitors 18+ years)
2 bottles (litres) of wine and 1 bottle (litre) of spirits or liquor (limited to visitors 18+ years)
50m of perfume and 250m of eau de toilette per person
Other goods up to the value of ZAR5,000.00 per person
Goods imported from Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland up to value of ZAR25,000.00 per person are exempt from VAT.
5.25kg of handmade articles for commercial purposes made of glass, plastic, leather, stone or wood for travellers arriving from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia or Zimbabwe.
Allowances above will only be granted once per person in any 30 day period after an absence of 48 hours or more.
Arms and Ammunitions must be packed separately in a locked firearm case with all ammunition removed from the firearm.  Visitors require a Temporary Import Permit which will only be issued to foreign hunters and participants in organised sport shooting events.

Pets
All animals and animal products must be transported as Manifested Cargo under Air Waybill. Exempt from this regulation are dogs accompanying a blind person. These dogs are permitted in the cabin and will be cleared in the customs area of the passenger’s arrival hall by a veterinary officer (advisable to inform the local station manager prior to departure in order for a veterinary office to be available to clear the pet).  All veterinary requirements and documentation prior to departure to be complied with.

Medical/Vaccinations

Yellow Fever
A valid Yellow Fever Certificate is required if you arrive in South Africa from a country in the Yellow Fever belt which includes most of  central and west Africa and much of South America.  Immigration officials may refuse you entry if you cannot prove that you have been vaccinated.  The vaccination must have occurred 10 days prior to arrival in SA.

Malaria
Most areas in South Africa are malaria-free zones.  However, if you are visiting the Kruger National Park area, please speak to your general practitioner regarding malaria prophylactics. If you decide against these precautions, purchase insect/mosquito repellent in South Africa and clothing that covers your wrists, hands and ankles.

Currency in South Africa

The currency is the Rand (R) which comprises 100 cents. Banknotes are in denominations of R10.00, R50.00, R100.00 and R200.00.  The international symbol for the Rand is ZAR.

All major credit cards are accepted throughout the country.

Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied at a rate of 14% on the majority of goods. Foreign tourists may claim a VAT refund at their departing airport for all purchases which exceed R250.00 providing all the original tax invoices, receipts and proof of payments are kept. Tax invoices for goods worth more than R2,000.00 must include your name and home address.

With a favourable exchange rate for many international currencies, visitors will get “more bang for their buck” in South Africa. The financial institutions are world-class, with no shortage of banks, bureaux de change and automatic tellers in the towns and cities.

Tipping
If you are satisfied with the service when dining out, a tip between 10-15% can be added to the bill. Petrol attendants and Car guards are generally tipped ZAR5.00.

Climate in South Africa
South Africa has a temperate climate and is known for its lovely, long sunny days. Most of the provinces have summer rainfall, except for the Western Cape (winter rainfall). Winter is from May to August; Spring from September to October; Summer from November to February and Autumn is from March to April.


Clothing
When packing for your trip to South Africa, take into consideration the time of year and the areas you will be visiting.
Dress is generally informal, although smart clothing is generally preferred in upscale restaurants and theatres.

Time Zone
GMT +2

Languages
With a population of 52 million people, South Africa is a multi-lingual country with 11 official languages (hence the Rainbow Nation) with English as the main language. 

Travelling through South Africa
There are 9 provinces in South Africa, namely: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Cape, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.

Self-Drive
A valid foreign driver’s licence is required and the licence must be printed in English. Alternatively an International Driving Permit will be permitted.  Tourists are required to show the police officer both the driving permit/licence as well as the passport (or certified copy of the passport) when stopped.

South African’s drive on the left hand side and speed is measured in kilometres per hour (kph). Speed limits range from 40kph – 120kph which is the highway/freeway limit.  Drivers caught speeding by one of the many hidden cameras on South African roads will be forwarded a fine from the car rental company when received.

Petrol Stations (also known as Garages) are widespread throughout SA.  However, distances between them can be vast.  Visitors driving between cities or on long country roads are advised to check the fuel gauge frequently and to fill up when possible.  Petrol Stations in SA are not self-help – an attendant will assist and also offer to check oil, water and tyre pressures for which he/she will expect a tip (approximately ZAR5.00).

  • Basic Road Rules and information
  • The legal driving age is 18 years
  • Keep safe following distances
  • South Africans drive on the left hand side of the road
  • Keep within the speed limits
  • Beware of Pot Holes
  • Traffic Lights are referred to as Robots in South Africa

Keep your vehicle doors locked and windows rolled up when travelling in cities and towns.  Stow away valuables such as handbags, cameras, mobile phones in the boot of the vehicle.
Many roads in South Africa may not be fenced.  Livestock including dogs and wildlife can and do wander onto the road. This is especially dangerous in the evenings.

It is illegal to;

  • Operate a mobile phone whilst driving
  • Drive under the influence of alcohol
  • Drive without a seat belt

Flights
There are 3 major international airports in South Africa; OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport and King Shaka International Airport in Durban. There are an additional 90 regional airports including the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport (KMIA) in Nelspruit.

Mobile Phone/Internet Communications
Phoning into South Africa, the number must be preceded by +27 which is SA’s international country code. This number is followed by the area code of the town or city you are dialling (leaving out the first 0 of the area code). The area code is followed by actual number of the person/place you are calling.
To make an international phone call from SA, dial 00 (or +) followed by the country code, followed by the relevant area code followed lastly by the actual phone number.

Water
The mains water in the large cities and towns is generally safe to drink. For visitors with sensitive stomachs, bottled water is advised.

Electricity
220V / 230V / 250V / 50Hz. Plugs fit a three-pin 15A socket. Visitors are advised to pack a converter.

Safety and Security in South Africa
Sadly crime in South Africa is a daily reality and visitors to SA are advised to exercise caution. Whilst the vast majority of visitors return home without incident, car-jackings and muggings are common. Keep vehicle doors locked at all times and windows rolled up high when driving in high density areas. Do not leave items of a valuable nature such as handbags, laptops, cameras and cellphones on the passenger seats, or visible in the vehicle – stow them in the vehicle’s boot.

Visitors are strongly advised to make copies of their travel documents when visiting South Africa.


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