Getting here and advice about your stay

Entry requirements for South Africa

Passport validity

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days from the date of exit from South Africa.

Your passport should have at least two blank pages when you present it at immigration to enter or leave South Africa.


If you are visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you do not need a visa.

For more information on visas contact the South African High Commission at: or the South African Department of Home Affairs at:

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry into, transit and exit from South Africa but should have a minimum of six months validity.

The South African Government does not accept British passports that have been extended by 12 months by British Embassies and Consulates under exceptional measures put in place in mid-2014. You will not be able to enter or exit South Africa on an expired British passport with an extension stamp.

Work permits

If you start a new business, or invest in an existing business in South Africa, you must apply for a business permit. Work permits will only be issued if South African citizens with the required skills are not available.

For further information, including details on Overstay Appeals, Residence Permits, and Travelling with Children (under 18), visit the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice pages at:

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website:



There are limits on the amount of currency you can bring into South Africa. For cash in South African Rand (ZAR), the limit is ZAR 25,000. For combinations of cash in other currencies, the limit is US $10,000 (or equivalent). You should declare any amount higher than this on entry to South Africa.

There is a high incidence of credit card fraud and fraud involving ATMs. Make sure your PIN is not seen by others when withdrawing money from an ATM. Refuse offers of help from bystanders. Do not change large sums of money in busy public areas.

Make sure you protect any documents containing details of credit cards or bank accounts.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]


Local laws and customs

Always carry your identity documentation or a copy of your passport. You will need to be able to produce valid identification on request by South African officials.

Drug-taking and smuggling is an offence.

It is illegal to buy, sell, kill or capture any protected wild animal or trade any of its parts without a permit. South Africa is a signatory to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) under which there is a ban on the international commercial trade in ivory and rhino horn. Anyone caught buying or trafficking banned goods will be prosecuted and receive prison sentences and/or fines.

Homosexuality is legal, and the South African authorities have introduced legislation which bans any discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]


Safety and security


South Africa has a very high level of crime, including rape and murder. The risk of violent crime to visitors travelling to the main tourist destinations however, is generally low. The South African authorities give high priority to protecting tourists and tourism police are deployed in several large towns. Most cases of violent crime and murder tend to occur in townships, remote and isolated areas. Consult a reliable tour guide if you visit a township.

Crime increases in areas where large crowds gather, so be particularly vigilant if you are attending sporting or other events that attract large numbers.

Incidents of vehicle hi-jacking and robbery are common, particularly after dark. Keep to main roads and park in well-lit areas. Vulnerable areas include, but are not limited to: traffic lights, junctions, and when approaching or pulling out from driveways. Take care at all times and be vigilant of your surroundings when in a stationary vehicle.

If you think your vehicle is being followed, particularly from an airport, pull into the nearest busy (i.e. where there are other vehicles) petrol station, and wait until the suspect vehicle has disappeared. You are unlikely to be robbed / attacked where there are other people around to witness the event. In the Airport Arrivals Hall, do not accept offers from individuals claiming to be taxi operators. Preferably arrange your airport transfers prior to your arrival with a reputable company, and agree a well-known place at which to meet with your driver. Your business counterparts in South Africa may well also be happy to collect you from the airport and convey you to your hotel – consult them on the matter of airport transfers. In the Johannesburg area, the Gautrain is a reliable form of transport between the airport and the centre of Sandton where Europcar (car hire firm) has an office and there are also Gautrain buses leaving at regular intervals for different parts of the northern suburbs. Disputes between metered taxi drivers and Uber drivers have rendered the taxi option to and from main transport hubs to final destinations unreliable and a little risky.

[Source – ITRISA]

There are frequent incidents of car windows being broken and valuables taken while cars are waiting at junctions. Keep valuables out of sight.

Due to thefts at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, you should vacuum-wrap luggage where local regulations permit. Keep all valuables in your carry-on luggage.

Keep large amounts of money, expensive jewellery, cameras and phones out of sight. Do not change or withdraw large sums of money in busy public areas including foreign exchange facilities or ATMs. Thieves operate at international airports, and bus and railway stations. Keep your valuables safe and baggage with you at all times.

Do not give personal or financial account information details to anyone. There are international fraud rings operating in South Africa, who may target visitors and charities.

Water safety

South Africa has an extensive coastline much of which is protected in nature conservation areas where there are no warning signs, flags or life-saving equipment on the many beaches that stretch for kilometres/miles. Lifesavers operate where there are large numbers of bathers. 

[Source – ITRISA]

Beach conditions and local safety provisions vary considerably throughout the South African coastline and every year significant numbers of people drown due to the strong sea currents. Speak to local people who are familiar with the conditions, and check whether there are any flags and/or lifeguards before entering the water. 

Follow any warnings that are displayed and instructions issued by lifeguards. Familiarise yourself with the signs of a rip current or tide. Contact the National Sea Rescue Institute at: in case of emergency.

For more information about how to stay safe, visit the website of the South Africa National Sea Rescue Institute, or read the information sheet at:
 to avoid being caught up in a rip current.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]


Travel advice for South Africa

There can be major security risks in some parts of South Africa. If you are travelling to South Africa for business, check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) travel advice pages beforehand:

If you are considering travelling to any areas which the FCO advise against, you should take professional security advice. The DIT team in South Africa at:
 can put you in touch with professional security advisors in-country.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]

Local travel

Be particularly vigilant in Durban’s city centre and beach front area.

Keep to main roads and avoid driving at night when visiting Northern KwaZulu Natal and Zululand, as there have been incidents of hi-jacking and robbery, particularly on isolated secondary roads.

Be vigilant on the approach roads to and from Kruger Park where there have been cases of car hijacking.

Avoid isolated beaches and picnic spots. Do not walk alone, especially in remote areas. Hikers should stick to popular trails. There have been violent attacks on hikers and tourists on Table Mountain. Take care in quieter areas of the park, especially early in the morning or just before the park closes.

Call the police (on 10111 or on 112 from a mobile phone) at the first sign of danger.

Mobile phone reception is generally good in major towns and cities but can be intermittent in more remote spots.

Protest marches and demonstrations can occur anywhere in South Africa and sometimes at short notice. Avoid areas where demonstrations and marches are taking place.

Road travel

You can drive using a UK Driving Licence for up to 12 months.

The standard of driving in South Africa can vary greatly and there are many fatal accidents every year.

On highways overtaking can occur in any lane including the hard shoulder. On single-lane roads the hard shoulder is also sometimes used by trucks and slower vehicles to allow faster vehicles to overtake. At quieter intersections, the first vehicle to arrive sometimes has priority. On roundabouts, you should give way to the right, although this rule is often ignored.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]

If you are driving yourself, keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you, and your eyes on your rear view and side mirrors. Give minibus taxis right of way, as they will take this unilaterally, possibly to your detriment, if you do not. Buses and minibus taxis stop wherever they see fit, not just at taxi ranks and bus stops. Law enforcement, where poor driving is concerned, is rare. 

[Source – ITRISA]

Road standards are mostly very good, but some roads in remote areas are less well maintained and may have potholes. Drive cautiously, obey speed limits and avoid unfamiliar rural areas at night. Thieves have been known to employ various methods to make a vehicle stop (e.g. placing large stones in the middle of the road) enabling them to rob the occupants. Park in well-lit areas. Do not pick up strangers or stop to help apparently distressed motorists, as this is a technique sometimes used by hijackers. It is better to report any incident to the police.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]


Business risk

Bribery and corruption

Corruption in South Africa includes the private use of public resources, bribery and improper favouritism. Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for British nationals or someone who is ordinarily resident in the UK, a body incorporated in the UK or a Scottish partnership, to bribe anywhere in the world. In addition, a commercial organisation carrying on a business in the UK can be liable for the conduct of a person who is neither a UK national or resident in the UK or a body incorporated or formed in the UK. In this case it does not matter whether the acts or omissions which form part of the offence take place in the UK or elsewhere.

South Africa is a signatory to the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention. It should be noted that UK bribery legislation also applies to UK registered companies and UK nationals committing acts of bribery wholly outside the UK.

In a report released by a leading South African legal firm, the country has made some inroads in addressing loopholes. This could be attributed to an increase in general awareness among organisations, with over 90% having a policy prohibiting bribery and 52% having an anti-bribery compliance programme in place. However, there has been an upsurge of bribery incidents.

Two forms of corruption are particularly prevalent in South Africa:

1)    Tenderpreneurism

Tenderpreneur is a term that describes individuals who enrich themselves through corrupting the awarding of government tender contracts, mostly based on personal connections and corrupt relationships – although outright bribery might also take place – and sometimes involving an elected or politically appointed official (or their family members) holding simultaneous business interests. This is often accompanied by overcharging and shoddy workmanship.

2)    BEE-fronting

BEE-fronting is an abuse of the rules governing Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), where qualifying persons are given a seat on the Board of Directors of a company while having no decision-making power in the company, in order to qualify the company for government contracts in terms of BEE.

Visit the Business Anti-Corruption portal page at: providing advice and guidance about corruption in South Africa.

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk/]


Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in South Africa. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners such as shopping areas in major cities.

There have been no terrorist attacks in South Africa in recent years. The main threat is from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL). News reports suggest that a number of South African nationals have travelled to Syria, Iraq and Libya. They are likely to pose a security threat on their return. There is also a threat from individuals who may have been inspired by terrorist groups, including Daesh, to carry out so called ‘lone actor’ attacks targeting public places including where foreigners may gather.

South African authorities have successfully disrupted several planned attacks and made a number of arrests related to terrorism offences including alleged plots to attack Jewish targets and western diplomatic missions. South African authorities have also been effective against right-wing extremists.

There is a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack, at:

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk/]

Protective security advice

Visitors to South Africa should be diligent about protecting digital data. Spyware, phishing and malicious software tools are common. One example of this is to send authentic-looking emails to potential victims. The emails appear to have been sent from a trusted institution such as a bank, requesting recipients to divulge personal information. Once criminals have these details they are able to steal money from the victims’ bank accounts. Diligence coupled with firewalls or spyware removal tools are recommended.

The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure at: can provide protective security advice to businesses.

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk/]

Intellectual property

IP rights are territorial, that is they only give protection in the countries where they are granted or registered. If you are thinking about trading internationally, then you should consider registering your IP rights in your export markets. In 2008, South Africa enacted the IPR Intellectual Property Rights frim Publicly Financed Research and Development Act (Act No 51 of 2008). The law clarifies obligations related to the ownership of intellectual property rights in the country and applies to aesthetic and functional designs, marks related to patentable inventions and copyright. Further information can be viewed at the South African Department of Trade & Industry’s website.

There are four Acts in South Africa that govern the country’s Intellectual Property Laws. Generally, the most widely applied IP law is that of copyright. The other three are for patents, trademarks and registered designs.

Read the information provided on the UK Government’s Intellectual Property page at:

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk/]



Visit your health professional at least four-to-six weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country-specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre on the TravelHealthPro website: and by NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website:

Useful information and advice about healthcare abroad is also available on the NHS Choices website:

According to STATS SA, there are currently 7,030,000 adults aged between 15 and 45 living in South Africa with HIV: the prevalence rate in 2016 was 12.7% of the population. The rate at which the population is being infected, however, has been slowly decreasing and currently stands at 1.27%.

[Source – ITRISA / STATS SA]

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

[Source – FCO Travel Advice/]

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel. See FCO Foreign Travel Insurance:


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