travel destinations Lockdown Travel: Update on partial re-opening of SA borders
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In line with South African government’s commitment to take urgent steps to address the economic and tourism stagnation brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19, the visa-free status of citizens from the following countries and territories has been re-instated!


South Africa (05 October 2020) – Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has convened an inclusive meeting involving senior immigration officials and ports of entry managers to address challenges arising from the implementation of regulations pertaining to travel into the country and the partial re-opening of SA borders.

This also includes the opening of the tourism industry and promoting trade in order to stimulate economic recovery.

Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane was consulted prior to and during the meeting and fully endorsed its outcome.

Visa-free status

The visa-free status of citizens of some countries and territories was temporarily suspended at the start of the lockdown period.

In line with government commitment to take urgent steps to address the economic and tourism stagnation brought about by the outbreak of COVID-19, the visa-free status of citizens from the following countries and territories has been re-instated:

  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Portugal
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • UK
  • USA

However, the visa-free status does not alter the current COVID-19 regulations.

Minister Motsoaledi has instructed officials to communicate this decision to the aviation industry, embassies and other stakeholders as a matter of urgency.

Guideline regulating the movement of goods

“The port managers have been instructed to adhere to the SADC protocol and guidelines regulating the movement of essential goods under COVID-19 regulations.

“The guidelines regulating truck drivers travelling across the border will continue to apply as has been the case for the past seven months,” the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement.

The department said in view of the confusion regarding the 72 hours negative test requirement; it reiterated that business persons providing services across the borders of SADC are allowed multiple entry subject to producing a certificate of negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure. This certificate is valid for 14 days.

Minister Motsoaledi is fully aware of the issue of airline and maritime crews, and he has been informed that the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, is resolving the matter and a statement to that effect will hopefully be issued by the Minister of Transport today.

“Immigration officers will be required to assess the movement and place of origin of the traveller and not the country of origin of the airline concerned.

“Transit travellers through South Africa by air will be allowed to connect to their destinations, subject to them complying with applicable health protocols but need not produce the 72 hours negative certificate,” the department said.

Visa services resume

As communicated on 30 September 2020, visa services, including submission of applications through VFS Global, have resumed in the following categories:

Visitor’s visas, study visa, treaty visa, business visa, crew visa; medical treatment visa, relative’s visa, general work visa, critical skills work visa, intra-company transfer work visa, retired person visa, corporate visa, exchange visa, waiver of the prescribed requirement, as contemplated in section 31(2)(c) and appeals or reviews contemplated in section 8 of the Immigration Act.

COVID-19 business travel

Any person from a country listed as having a high COVID-19 infection and transmission rate, who wishes to undertake business travel into South Africa, may, in writing, apply to the Minister of Home Affairs and demonstrate reasons for their request to enter the Republic for business purposes during the period of the national state of disaster.

Such applications must be directed to email and supported by:

(a) A copy of passport and/or temporary residence visa

(b) Proof of business activities to be undertaken in the Republic

(c) Proof of travel itinerary and

(d) Proof of address or accommodation in the Republic

List of high-risk countries

The list follows President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the country’s borders will be reopened for business and leisure travel for international travellers, subject to a number of restrictions for travellers.

The list of high-risk countries as published on 30 September 2020 is as follows:

  1. Armenia
  2. Albania
  3. Argentina
  4. Austria
  5. Bahrain
  6. Belgium
  7. Bolivia
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina
  9. Brazil
  10. Chile
  11. Columbia
  12. Costa Rica
  13. Croatia
  14. Czech Republic
  15. Denmark
  16. Ecuador
  17. France
  18. Georgia
  19. Greece
  20. Guatemala
  21. Guyana
  22. Honduras
  23. Hungary
  24. Iceland
  25. India
  26. Iran
  27. Iraq
  28. Ireland
  29. Israel
  30. Jamaica
  31. Jordan
  32. Kuwait
  33. Lebanon
  34. Luxemburg
  35. Maldives
  36. Malta
  37. Mexico
  38. Moldova
  39. Montenegro
  40. Nepal
  41. Netherlands
  42. North Macedonia
  43. Oman
  44. Palestine
  45. Panama
  46. Paraguay
  47. Peru
  48. Portugal
  49. Puerto Rico
  50. Qatar
  51. Romania
  52. Russia
  53. Slovakia
  54. Suriname
  55. Switzerland
  56. Ukraine
  57. United Emirates
  58. United Kingdom
  59. USA
  60. Venezuela

The list of these high-risk countries will be updated fortnightly and can be accessed on the Home Affairs website:

Immigration officers have been instructed to apply the requirements with a measure of flexibility in order to allow applications for business travel to be lodged at the ports of entry if and when necessary and await the outcome before entry into the Republic is allowed.

All other categories of travellers from medium and low-risk countries are required to produce a certificate of negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from the time of departure.

Any persons who fail to submit the certificate will be required to quarantine at his or her own cost.

Sources: SA Government | SA borders 
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