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International Travel: What You Need to Know

2 October 2020

October 1st marked the reopening of South Africa’s international borders.

The South African government has provided directives with regards to international travel during alert level 1. These include the high risk countries list, visas, ports of entry and business travel.

High-Risk Countries

Inbound leisure travellers from the following countries will not be allowed to enter into our borders due to their country’s high COVID-19 infection and transmission rate: USA, UK, United Emirates, India, Switzerland, Russia, Qatar, France, Portugal, Greece, Netherlands, Brazil, Croatia, Argentina and more. The full list can be viewed here.

Please note that the high-risk countries list will be updated regularly on the Home Affairs website.

Business Travel

Business travellers from high-risk countries will only be allowed to enter SA if they provide a letter in writing to the Minster of Home Affairs with reasons as to why they want to enter into our country during this national state of disaster period. They would also need to provide the following: copy of their passport/temporary residence visa, proof of business activities to be undertaken in SA, proof of travel itinerary, proof of address or accommodation in SA.

These applications must sent to

Regulations when entering SA

Any person entering SA will be subjected to the following protocols: they would need to provide a valid certificate of a negative COVID-19 test not more than 72 hours before their date of travel; and if they are unable to, then they would be required to quarantine at their own cost.

Ports of Entry

Eighteen land ports of entry opened on 1 October 2020, with the exception of 35 ports which will remain closed until further notice. Find the full list here on page 8.


The Department of Home Affairs is extending the validity period of legally issued visas which expired during the lockdown period to 31 January 2021. Holders of such visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until 31 January 2021.

Those who would like to be repatriated to their country during this period will be allowed to do so.

Home Affairs are also resuming their services for applications of ID cards, passports, documents and visas.

Click here to view the latest government gazette.

Safety measures in place

In a statement this week, after welcoming back the first commercial international flight to Cape Town, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities, Alderman James Vos, said: “I would like to congratulate our award-winning Cape Town International Airport for their commitment to and implementation of world-class health and safety measures to ensure the safety of employees and travellers.”

cape town travel

“I’d love to welcome international guests from all countries for leisure purposes by implementing the very same protocols currently in place for business travellers from high risk countries. I will engage my national counterparts to lobby for this, especially as we head into our peak visitor season.”

Alderman Vos added that local and international visitors were the life blood of Cape Town’s economy, as they brought in much-needed revenue and supported thousands of jobs.

For more travel information, visit Cape Town Tourism.