Last update: 2/24/2021
South Africa has been open to international travel since October 1, 2020. Tourists from any country can visit as long as they enter by air, which makes South Africa one of the best countries that are open for international tourism.
Entry requirements for South Africa are as follows: all travelers must present a medical certificate with a negative COVID-19 PCR test result that was obtained within 72 hours of departure. As long as they present this medical certificate, they will not need to quarantine upon arrival in South Africa.
Can I travel to South Africa right now?
South Africa is allowing travelers from all countries to visit as long as they arrive by air. Below is a map of all the countries that can visit South Africa right now.
Travelers from any country can currently visit South Africa.
South Africa has not banned travelers from any country.
South Africa COVID-19 travel restrictions
South Africa has implemented some strict entry requirements for visitors in order to keep both tourists and residents safe.
All travelers are required to present a paper copy of a medical certificate for a negative PCR COVID test that was taken within 72 hours of departure. If you do not present this certificate upon arrival, you will have to quarantine in a government facility at your own cost.
You will also need to submit an online travel health questionnaire within 2 days of your trip and download the COVID Alert SA app. Finally, when you arrive in South Africa, you will undergo a health screening.
Is PCR testing mandatory to travel to South Africa?
To visit South Africa, you must present a paper copy of a medical certificate for a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours of your departure. If you do not have a certificate for a negative PCR test, you will have to quarantine in a government facility at your own cost.
Is there a mandatory quarantine upon arrival in South Africa?
There is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival in South Africa as long as you have a medical certificate for a negative PCR test that was taken within 72 hours of your departure. Without this certificate, you will have to self-isolate in a government quarantine facility and pay for the cost of your stay.
Similarly, if you exhibit any COVID-19 symptoms upon arrival in South Africa, you will have to quarantine until you can take a second COVID-19 test.
Travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage to visit South Africa
It is not mandatory to have travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage to visit South Africa, but you should always travel with some kind of travel health insurance. That way, you’ll be covered no matter what happens, whether it’s illness, theft, or a missed flight.
If you’re looking for travel insurance with COVID-19 coverage, I highly recommend Heymondo. We always use their policies when we travel because they offer extensive coverage for COVID-19 testing and treatment abroad at a great price. You can even save 5% on their policies just for being our reader!
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COVID-19 vaccine to travel to South Africa
Although COVID-19 vaccine distribution has begun in most countries around the world, South Africa’s government has not yet confirmed whether it will be mandatory to present a proof of vaccine record (POVR) or an international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis (ICVP) to enter South Africa.
If you’re going to get the COVID-19 vaccine before traveling to South Africa, I recommend taking a copy of a vaccination record or certificate with you in case South Africa changes its entry requirements.
Other travel restrictions for South Africa during COVID-19
There are a few other travel restrictions for visitors to South Africa:
- All travelers must complete an online travel health questionnaire within 2 days of their trip.
- All travelers must download the COVID Alert SA app.
- All travelers will undergo a health screening on arrival.
- Face masks are required in all public areas. Failure to wear a mask is considered a criminal offense and is punishable by law.
- Social distancing guidelines of 2 meters must be observed.
- You may need a tourist visa to visit South Africa. Check if you need one below.
What’s open in South Africa
South Africa was just placed into level 3 of lockdown alert, so restrictions have increased. Many beaches are closed to the public, but accommodations, airports, restaurants, and some attractions remain open.
Hotels that are open in South Africa
There are plenty of options for places to stay in South Africa, since hotels and accommodations are open and are allowed to operate at full capacity.
The best options available right now are:
- The Table Bay Hotel (Cape Town)
- Lagoon Beach Hotel & Spa (Cape Town)
- The Oyster Box (Durban)
- The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City Resort
- Radisson Blu Hotel Sandton, Johannesburg
Guests must wear masks at all times in public areas and keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters away from others in common areas.
More information on hotel and accommodation regulations is available here.
Beaches that are open in South Africa
Because South Africa has been placed into level 3 of lockdown alert, beaches, as well as dams, lakes, rivers, public parks, and public swimming pools, have been closed to the public until further notice in areas that are considered hotspots.
Beaches in areas that are not hotspots, such as in the Northern Cape, are open from 6 AM to 7 PM.
Attractions that are open in South Africa
Many attractions in South Africa are open right now, including museums, and game parks.
Museums, movie theaters, casinos, and theaters close at 8 PM daily and are limited to 50 people at once or 50% capacity. Botanical gardens, aquariums, and zoos are open from 9 AM to 6 PM. Game parks are open from 6 AM to 6 PM.
These are our favorite attractions/tours that are operating right now:
- Kruger National Park: Full-Day Private Safari
- Waterfront and Sunset Champagne Cruise (Cape Town)
- Table Mountain Cable Car Ticket & Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Combo (Cape Town)
- Seal Snorkeling Experience (Cape Town)
- Shark Cage Dive and Viewing
- Whale and Dolphin Watching Boat Trip
- Cape Point & Boulders Beach
- Robben Island Ferry Ticket
- Full-day safari in Pilanesberg National Park
- Tsitsikamma National Park: Storms River Kayak and Lilo Tour
- From Cape Town: Inverdoorn Game Reserve Full-Day Safari
- Addo Elephant National Park Full-Day Safari
Visitors to all these attractions must wear masks at all times and keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters away from others who are not in their family group.
More information on regulations for attractions can be found here.
Restaurants and bars that are open in South Africa
Restaurants in South Africa are currently open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery, but, in accordance with lockdown rules, they close at 8 PM. Bars are closed until further notice.
Restaurants will be laid out so that there is a minimum of 1.5 meters between different groups. Restaurant capacity is restricted to either 50% or 50 people indoors/100 people outdoors.
Airports that are open in South Africa
International travel has been restricted to three international airports, OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport, and Cape Town International Airport, all three of which are currently open.
All travelers must wear masks and abide by social distancing guidelines. They will also be subject to health screenings on arrival.
Curfew in South Africa
South Africa has a daily curfew from 9 PM to 5 AM until further notice.
COVID-19 testing in South Africa
Your country may require you to take a PCR test in order to fly back home. If you need to get tested in South Africa, you can find information on testing here. Approved labs include Ampath, Lancet, Lab24, PathCare, Epicentre, Testaro, and GHI Labs.
South Africa reopening its borders to tourists – F.A.Q.
Check out these FAQs related to South Africa reopening for tourists and let us know if you have any other questions in the comments below.
Yes, you can travel to South Africa from any country right now.
There are currently 239,000+ active cases and 33,500+ deaths due to COVID-19 in South Africa as of today. The CDC classifies travel to South Africa as “Level 4- Very High Risk.” If you have a pre-existing condition or any health condition that could increase your chances of serious illness, do not travel to South Africa. Additionally, even if you are not high-risk, you might want to reconsider travel to South Africa.
No, travelers from all countries can visit South Africa.
No, there is no mandatory quarantine upon arrival in South Africa as long as you have a medical certificate for a negative PCR COVID-19 test result that was obtained within 72 hours of your departure. If you don’t, you will have to quarantine in a government facility at your own cost.
Yes, you must present a medical certificate for a negative PCR COVID-19 test result that was obtained within 72 hours of your departure. Without this certificate, you will have to quarantine on arrival in a government quarantine facility.
Yes, there is a daily curfew in South Africa from 9 PM to 5 AM.
No, there are no restrictions on intercity and interregional travel.
Yes, hotels in South Africa are open and operating at full capacity.
Yes, South Africa’s airports are open, although international travel has been restricted to three airports: OR Tambo International Airport, King Shaka International Airport, and Cape Town International Airport.
Yes, restaurants in South Africa are currently open until 8 PM daily. Bars are closed until further notice.
Yes, some beaches are open. Beaches in hotspot areas are closed to the public until further notice. Beaches in non-hotspot areas are open from 6 AM to 7 PM.
Yes, many attractions are open, including game parks, zoos, and museums.
Yes, South Africa is open to American tourists.
Yes, Canadians can visit South Africa right now.
We will update this guide on South Africa reopening to tourism with any new developments. If you need more information on travel to South Africa, you can check these official sources:
- US Embassy Updates on COVID-19 in South Africa
- CDC Travel Recommendations for South Africa
- General South Africa Travel Advisory
- Online Travel Health Questionnaire
- South African Government’s Quarantine and Entry Requirements
- South African Government’s Level 3 Lockdown Restrictions and Regulations
- South African Tourism Update- Level 3 Lockdown Regulations
- COVID Alert SA App Information