September 30

Travelling to South Africa during Covid-19 – all you need to know


By Luke Lalin on
September 30, 2020

Please note that this blog post was written in September 2020. For the latest travel updates, please visit our Travel with Confidence pages.


South Africa, after closing its borders at the end of March 2020 due to Covid-19 will, as of 1 October 2020, be open for international travel once again. A risk-based system has been adopted in evaluating which countries will be allowed entry. All countries will be classified as either high, medium or low risk and entry requirements will be determined based on this list. Here is everything you need to know when travelling to South Africa during Covid-19. 

How are countries classified as high, medium or low-risk?

Countries infection, transmission and death rates will be evaluated. Those counries with rates higher than South Africa will be deemed high-risk and thus no leisure travellers will be allowed entry into South Africa. Counties with lower rates will fall into the medium or low-risk categories and entry will be allowed from these countries. 

How often will changes in risk categories be considered? 

South Africa will be re-evaluating the list of countries every two weeks and will consider all infection, transmission and death rates over the previous week when determining a change in risk category.

Which countries are allowed entry?

Countries from medium and low-risk countries will be allowed to enter for leisure travel. Countries from high-risk countries will not be allowed to enter for leisure travel however business workers, investors, and high-skilled professionals (including diplomats) will be allowed entry. 

If the passport of the traveller from a high-risk country indicates that they have spent the last 10 or more days in a low-risk country before departure, they will be considered to be arriving from a low-risk country.

All countries from Africa fall into the low-risk category and thus will be allowed entry. 

Which countries are on the low and medium-risk list?

All countries which are not on the high-risk list are allowed to enter for leisure travel.

Which countries are on the high risk list?

The following countries are deemed to be high-risk as they currently have a higher infection, transmission or death rate than South Africa and will not be allowed to enter for leisure travel purposes:

*this list was last updated as of 17 October 2020* 

Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, USA.

Which Airports will be open?

Only the following airports will be open for international travel: 

  • OR Tambo International Airport
  • King Shaka International Airport
  • Cape Town International Airport

What travel requirements are needed to enter South Africa? 

The following is needed from every passenger to be granted entry into South Africa: 

  • Negative Covid-19 test (no older than 72hours);
  • The test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and must contain the name and signature of the person who conducted the test;
  • If no negative test is produced, the traveller will be required to quarantine at their own cost;
  • Travel insurance;
  • Proof of accommodation within South Africa.

All travellers will undergo temperature screening on arrival in South Africa. Social Distancing will be encouraged and every traveller will be required to wear a mask. 

What if I test positive for Covid-19 in South Africa?

Any traveller who tests positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in South Africa will be required to undertake a mandatory 10 day quarantine in a state facility at their own cost. Travel insurance would however cover all testing and quarantine costs. 

Why everyone should travel to Africa

On safari in Kruger's Sabi Sand Reserve with Silvan Safari
Safari in style at Silvan Safari in South Africa

While we know we are not able to welcome all travellers back right now, we are thrilled to once again be welcoming some international guests and look forward to when we can share our magical wild spaces with everyone. Even if you are not able to travel right now, travel will be back and when it does it will more epic than ever. There are no better places to reconnect with your loved ones than in Africa, surrounded by our glorious wild spaces and incredible animals. Let our Travel Experts tailor your African adventure now. 

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About the author 

Luke Lalin

Born and raised in Johannesburg, Luke ventured to a small town in the Eastern Cape, Grahamstown, where he studied at Rhodes University. Clearly not having studied enough, he then completed a finance degree just for fun - who even does this? Luke is passionate about travelling and was lucky enough to work in the USA for almost 2 years. However, his love for Africa was too strong and he returned home and moved to the spectacular city of Cape Town to pursue a career in the travel industry. Having once been a competitive swimmer, Luke can often be found doing laps in the pool. He is, however, a general fitness junkie and can be found doing anything from cycling, running, mountain biking, triathlon, tennis, squash or anything that gets the heart rate up.

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