South Africa Has Just Reopened For International Travelers (Many Exclusions)


Today South Africa has reopened to select international visitors again following an announcement by the government two weeks ago that the country will open up to tourism as per October 1, 2020. 

This came despite voices earlier in spring that it would take at least until 2021 for the country to open up again but South Africa has been suffering from the loss of all tourism revenue which is usually a substantial part of it’s GDP and there was lots of pressure to start opening the country up again.


Some countries have already made their moves, the Maldives started to open very early on and even Thailand presented their own proposal (several of them) in the past few weeks – not it’s South Africa’s turn to get things started again as I first wrote about two weeks ago.

Yesterday there was a briefing by the government announcing the exact details:

Fellow South Africans, esteemed travellers and visitors to our beloved country and members of the media, thank you for allowing us, the Ministers tasked with immigration, tourism, health, transport and international relations and cooperation the opportunity to come before you to explain and to give necessary clarifications on how the South African borders will be reopened for international travel from 1 October 2020. …

Easing of travel restrictions

As a country we have adopted a gradual reopening of borders and ports of entry for international travel for business, leisure and other travel guided by the communique published by the Word Health Organisation (WHO) on Public Health on considerations for international travel on 30 July 2020.  The gradual reopening of borders and ports of entry informed by a cautious approach means that a limited number of ports of entry and borders will be opened from 1 October 2020. In reopening these selected ports of entry and borders we will be guided by epidemiological and transmission rates both in South Africa and the traveller’s countries of origin.

Travellers intending to visit the country will be expected to produce a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin to South Africa. This test must be conducted by a certified medical practitioner and should have the name and signature of the practitioner who conducted such test.

Upon arrival in the port of entry, the traveller will be screened for any COVID-19 symptoms or for contact with people who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Travellers will also need to provide proof of accommodation address should they need to self-quarantine at the time of arrival in the country.

Should the traveller display any COVID-19–related symptoms or been in contact with an infected person(s), they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test. This test will be at the traveller’s cost. If the COVID-19 test comes back positive, the traveller will be subjected to a 10 day quarantine at a designated site. The accommodation at a quarantine site will be at the traveller’s cost.

South Africa has developed a risk categorisation model for different international travellers. This model classifies international travellers according to a scale of high, medium and low risk. High risk travellers are those who come from countries with higher numbers of COVID-19 infections and reported deaths compared to South Africa.

Medium risk travellers are from countries with relatively equal number of infections and death toll to South Africa and low risk travellers obviously originate from countries with lesser number of infections of COVID-19 and death toll than South Africa.

Leisure Travellers from high risk countries will not be permitted.

The exception will be business travellers with scarce and critical skills including diplomats, repatriated persons, investors and people participating in professional sporting and cultural events will undergo the same health protocol screenings.

If the passport of the traveller from a high risk country indicates that he/she has spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, he/she will be considered to be arriving from a low risk country.

Travellers from medium and low risk countries will only be allowed into the country subject to the prevailing visa requirements. …

The lists of which countries are allowed and which ones aren’t can be obtained from Business Insider South Africa and they also have a graphic:

If you’re from any of the following countries you’re not allowed to enter South Africa:

  • Albania
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Belgium
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Ecuador
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Jamaica
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Luxembourg
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Nepal
  • Netherlands
  • North Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Palestine
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Portugal
  • Puerto Rico
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Slovakia
  • Suriname
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • Venezuela

As per the governments announcement there is an exception if you can prove that have stayed in a country that is classified “low risk” for the past 10 days.

If you carry a passport from for example Australia, Canada, Germany, Scandinavia, Spain (!?) and even China you are allowed to travel to South Africa.

Previously the government released a graphic showing the process for traveling to ZA:


The influx of revenue from foreign tourists is important to South Africa which is a very popular destination for tourists from around the world but especially from Europe.

No matter how the list will look like, potential visitors will also take into account how the Covid-19 situation is in South Africa itself. Their overall count is still relatively high and if traveling to the country is a risk someone one wants to take on I guess that’s a personal decision. I would probably pass right now.