Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for South Africa on the TravelHealthPro website

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Airline schedules may change at short notice, and airlines may have additional requirements in place, for example specifying the type of face mask that must be worn on board. If you have a flight booked, you should read their requirements in detail and check with your airline before travelling.

Some third countries have placed additional entry restrictions on people travelling from South Africa. If you are travelling from South Africa, you should check the entry requirements published by your destination country to make sure you understand any specific restrictions.

PCR (polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 tests are widely available from private medical facilities and some chemists in South Africa. If you need help finding a COVID-19 PCR test provider you should call The National Institute for Communicable Diseases helpline of (+27) 0800 029 999 for advice on possible testing facilities.

Entry and borders

There are additional entry requirements in place during the coronavirus pandemic. See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do before and when you arrive in South Africa.

Returning to the UK

Travelling from and returning to the UK

Check what you must do to travel abroad and return to England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

If you plan to pass through another country to return to the UK, check the travel advice for the country you’re transiting. If you will pass through a red list country, book your hotel quarantine package before travelling to the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with any UK government testing requirements. You should contact local authorities for information on testing facilities. See International travel for further information.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your health insurer for advice. You should also call the South African government local emergency hotline (0800029 999) or consult the online advice. South Africa’s detailed guidance on coronavirus testing, self-isolation and contact tracing can be found on their dedicated website, https://sacoronavirus.co.za/. People who test positive are expected to self-isolate in their private accommodation. If you have tested positive for coronavirus and require assistance, please contact us on +27 12 421 7500 and follow the consular options.

Travel in South Africa

Internal flights are operating. You are required to wear a face mask on flights.

Public transport is operating with reduced passenger numbers. You must wear a face mask if using public transport.

Children aged six years or younger are not required to wear a face mask.

Failure to comply with South African government regulations could result in a fine or arrest.

Accommodation

Hotels, guest houses and private rental accommodation are open, with protective measures in place. Upon arrival at your accommodation, you will normally be subject to a temperature test and asked to complete a health questionnaire. Some accommodation providers will request your travel history. You should contact your accommodation provider for more information.

Public spaces and services

The South African authorities have published COVID-19 guidelines and advice and have introduced a number of measures to limit the spread of the virus. Failure to comply could result in a fine or arrest.

South Africa has introduced a risk-based, five-level approach to lockdown restrictions. Adjusted level one restrictions are currently in place across the country.

National restrictions

Adjusted level one lockdown restrictions are in place across the country. You are legally required to wear a face mask when in public and may face a fine or imprisonment for breaking this rule. International travel is permitted subject to COVID-19 precautions.

You should comply with the regulations set out by the South African government.

Healthcare in South Africa

If you take regular medication, make sure you can access a repeat prescription if you need to. Most medicines that require a prescription from a doctor in the UK will require a script in South Africa (‘script’ is the widely used term in South Africa for ‘prescription’). If you need a prescription in advance, you can visit a local doctor. The doctor might prescribe on the basis of your visit, or they may ask you to obtain an electronic prescription from your medical practitioner in the UK to allow them to write a script. Pharmacies are readily available, with larger pharmacy groups Dis-Chem and Clicks having stores across the country. Some (but not all) of these stores have medical practitioners on site who can write prescriptions.

Most medical practitioners speak English, particularly in major cities and tourist areas. Visit our list of doctors.

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should contact your health insurer for advice. You can also call the South African government local emergency hotline (0800029 999) or consult the online advice. There is more information about what to expect if you test positive for COVID-19 under the Coronavirussection.

View Health for further details on healthcare in South Africa.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in South Africa

Wherever possible British nationals should aim to be vaccinated in the country where they live. We will update this page when the Government of South Africa announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The South African vaccination programme is underway using the Pfizer/BioNTech and Janssen (Johnson and Johnson) vaccines. British nationals resident in South Africa are eligible for vaccination. The South African Department of Health is managing the process of vaccine procurement, distribution and administration throughout the country. The details can be found on South Africa’s Government website.

Vaccine registration is now open for anyone over 12. If you live in South Africa, you can register for your vaccine by one of four ways:

  • Online, at http://vaccine.enroll.health.gov.za
  • Over the telephone by calling this free number: 0800 029 999
  • Using your mobile phone by dialling 134832IDnumber# (or if you have no ID number, just dial *134832#)
  • Using WhatsApp by sending the word REGISTER to 0600123456 You should follow the advice given to the general public to access vaccines in accordance with the phased roll out

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in South Africa, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities.