The Ministry of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs issued amended regulations on 17 December 2020 clarifying that accommodation establishments, including hotels, lodges, B&Bs, timeshare facilities, resorts and guesthouses are allowed to operate at full capacity of the available rooms for accommodation, with patrons observing a distance of at least one and a half metres from each other when in common spaces.
The Department of Home Affairs has resumed applications for identity cards or documents and all types of passports, as well as visa services, including submission of applications through VFS Global in the following visa categories:
- Visitor’s visas
- Study visas
- Treaty visas
- Business visas
- Crew visas
- Medical treatment visas
- Relative visas
- General work visas
- Critical skills visas
- Intra-company transfer visas
- Retired person visas
- Corporate visas
- Exchange visas
- Waiver of prescribed requirement
- Appeal or review against a decision on application for a temporary residence visa
Explanation of these visa categories can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.
Visa services, including applications for a visitor’s visa will also be rendered at the South African Missions abroad. The application process for Lesotho Exemption Permits and Zimbabwean Exemption Permits has also resumed from 1 October.
In a statement from government, issued on 8 October, the following procedure was outlined for travellers arriving at a port of entry without a certified negative PCR test:
- The traveller will be screened for signs and symptoms on arrival.
- Upon failure to produce a certified PCR test result, the traveller will be directed to a testing facility at the port of entry.
- A staff member from NHLS will conduct an antigen test, sometimes referred to as a rapid test, immediately.
- Travellers must be prepared to pay for the antigen test out of pocket (approximately ZAR 150-170) and can claim the fees from their health insurance service provider (pending the relevant insurance agreement).
- If the traveller tests negative, they will be allowed to proceed through the port of entry, provided they have been cleared of red flags at the screening phase.
- If the traveller tests positive, they will be required to quarantine at a facility designated by that particular port of entry. They will not be permitted to travel across provinces. Contacts of a traveller testing positive at the point of entry, including those who were in proximity of the traveller within the conveyance, will also be tracked and traced.
- Travellers who arrive without a certified PCR test and who refuse to test at the port of entry will not be permitted entry and will be required to quarantine at a designated facility.
It is unlikely that the intention of government is for the antigen test to replace the PCR test certificate for arrivals to South Africa by air travel. But the antigen test may be a solution for cross-border travel or where testing is poorly available. Therefore, until otherwise directed, international commercial airlines will still require the PCR test certificate before boarding flights to South Africa.
We are seeking further clarity on this procedure to ensure that travellers who are safe to enter, are able to do so without unnecessary burden, as well as assessing what this means for overland travel between South Africa and neighbouring countries.
Yes, all travellers from Africa will have to produce a valid certificate from an accredited laboratory of a negative COVID-19 PCR test not older than 72 hours, at all ports of entry. This includes South Africans (re-)entering the country.
Exceptions to the 72-hour PCR test requirement apply to the following categories:
- Daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend or teach at a school in South Africa
- Children below the age of five years
- Cross border freight operators
- Airline crew
- Medical evacuation crew undertaking medical evacuations
In addition, frequent travellers, defined as persons who travel through the borders of South Africa on more than one occasion within a 14-day period (excluding airline crew and cross border freight operators), must present a 72-hour PCR test upon initially entering South Africa. Thereafter, this initial test result may be presented on entry for subsequent travel for up to 14 days.
It should be noted that we have not received first-hand reports of how the 14-day exception is handled on the ground. It is not clear if this will be applied at land and air borders and whether or not airlines will adopt this direction and board ‘frequent travellers’ with a PCR test result older than 72 hours (but less than 14 days).
Passengers flying to South Africa should allow extra time for check-in and screening at the airport. It is the responsibility of the airline to ensure that all passengers have the required documentation and meet the requirements to enter South Africa (as well as any other destination country).
For flights to South Africa, the airline will check that passengers have a valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, obtained not more than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa and a valid visa to enter South Africa, if applicable.
Please print out all required documents to present at check-in before boarding your flight to South Africa.
All passengers must complete an entry screening health questionnaire. This can be completed online up to 2 days prior to departure.
As passengers disembark, there will be officers standing by to collect the COVID-19 test certificates.