IMPORTANT INFORMATION – Travel Information Tab
Covid-19 Related Travel Updates
On 11 November 2020, the South African authorities opened their borders fully and allowed arrivals from all countries on the condition that travellers submit a negative result of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 test taken not more than 72 hours before date of travel. Those unable to submit proof of a negative PCR test will be quarantined at their own costs. All visitors to South Africa are also required to download the “Covid Alert SA” app onto their smartphones. The app is available free of charge from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Upon arrival, travellers will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms. If they display any symptoms or are suspected to have been a close contact of infected persons, a PCR COVID-19 test is mandatory, and, where necessary, they will be quarantined at their own costs. More information can be found on the South African Government website at the following link: https://www.gov.za/covid-19/individuals-and-households/travel-coronavirus-covid-19#borders.
Prior to arrival, travellers will also be required to complete an online COVID-19 travel health questionnaire, which is accessible at https://sa-covid-19-travel.info. Upon completion of the questionnaire, travellers will receive a unique ID number that must be presented to Port Health officials upon arrival. Alternatively, travellers may print and complete a hardcopy of the questionnaire form found here and present it upon arrival.
For more information on South Africa’s COVID-19 regulations, please refer to the South African government’s website at https://www.gov.za/covid-19/about/. Further updates and news on the current COVID-19 situation in South Africa can also be found on the official Twitter page of the South African Department of Health at https://twitter.com/HealthZA and the official website www.sacoronavirus.co.za.
Singapore citizens, who require urgent consular assistance in South Africa, may call the High Commission at +27 12 430 6035 (office hours) or the Emergency hotline at +27 729 888 759 (after office hours). For all other travel queries that are non-urgent in nature, we kindly request that an email be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can provide a comprehensive reply.
Visa Information for Travel to South Africa
According to the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA), persons travelling on a Singapore passport are exempted from visa to enter and stay in South Africa for a maximum of 90 days. However, please note that this does not necessarily mean that the South African immigration officials will issue them with a full 90-day short-term visa stamp upon arrival. The actual duration Singapore travellers are authorised to stay in South Africa visa-free would depend on factors such as the purpose of the visit. As such, they are advised to verify the authorised duration of stay from the immigration stamp. They must leave the country or apply for an extension of stay (up to the maximum 90 days) before the duration expires.
For further details, please refer to DHA’s website at www.dha.gov.za/index.php/immigration -services/exempt-countries, or contact DHA or the South African High Commission in Singapore for clarifications.
General Travel Information for South Africa
South Africa receives over 15 million tourists each year. Many foreign nationals live and work in South Africa without incident. Major tourist sites are generally safe during daylight hours. However, crimes, including violent crimes, are an issue in South Africa. Visitors must therefore take the necessary precautions and avoid dangerous areas or travelling alone and/or late at night. They must also be alert to their surroundings at all times, as crimes can occur anywhere and at any time, and pay attention to information on crime risks obtainable from authorities and other sources, including hotels.
Singaporeans travelling to South Africa are strongly encouraged to eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg so that they can be contacted should the need arise. You are also advised to stay in touch with your family and friends regularly so that they know you are safe. Those who need urgent consular assistance while in South Africa may contact the Singapore High Commission in Pretoria or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24 hours) at:
High Commission of the Republic of Singapore in Pretoria
980-982 Francis Baard Street (formerly Schoeman Street),
Arcadia, Pretoria 0083, South Africa
Telephone: +27 12 430 6035
Duty Officer Telephone: +27 72 988 8759
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-hours)
Tanglin, Singapore 248163
Telephone: +65 6379 8800 / 8855
Emergency numbers and Other Useful Contacts in South Africa
Mobile phone direct dial for emergency: 112
South Africa is a huge country and medical assistance may not be readily available. If you need emergency assistance, dial 10177 and ask for an ambulance which may provide some interim medical attention. [Note: the 10177 ambulance service is operated by local authorities. Another privately operated ambulance service which also provides medical evacuation is Netcare 911 which can be reached by calling 082 911.] You should concurrently contact your travel insurance firm. If emergency medical evacuation is required, International SOS in Johannesburg can be contacted at + 27 11 541 1000 / 1300, and in Singapore +65 6338 7800. The cost of International SOS has to be borne by users or their insurance companies.
For those planning to travel, here are some general tips:
- Familiarise yourself with our network of overseas missions.
- Purchase comprehensive travel insurance and be familiar with the terms and coverage.
- Equip yourself with research about your destination’s entry requirements, current situation, local laws and customs.
- eRegister with us on our website (https://www.mfa.gov.sg) so that we may reach out to you during an emergency.
- Always take care of your personal safety, remain vigilant and monitor local weather news, advisories, and security developments.
- Exercise caution around large gatherings and avoid locations known for demonstrations or disturbances.
- Be prepared for possible delays and last-minute changes in travel plans especially during unforeseen events such as natural disasters, social unrests, or terror attacks.
- Stay connected with your friends and family. Inform them of your whereabouts and provide them with your overseas contact details.
Travellers may also wish to familiarise themselves with the following advice when travelling in South Africa. This list is not meant to be exhaustive.
Personal safety and General Tips
- Do not check in valuables in your check-in luggage. There have been instances of luggage being opened and/or lost.
- When booking transport from airport to hotel, use only those from reputable hotels or agency. There have been instances of highway robbery resulting from the use of freelance transport services. There are also reports of incidents involving Uber and other private transport service operators. Try to verify the identity of your drivers by asking for their ID and driving licence.
- Keep a copy of your passport biodata page as well as the page with the arrival immigration stamp.
- Do not carry large sums of cash, as criminals are known to target travellers, whom they believe like to carry cash. Avoid carrying all your credit cards and cash together in one lot.
- If you pay by credit card, ensure that the vendor brings the mobile card payment machine to you and makes the payment in your presence.
- Should you lose your credit card or mobile phone, you should quickly cancel your credit card or SIM card to avoid unauthorised transactions.
- Keep useful contact numbers such as your bank’s credit card hotline, the customer hotline of your travel insurance or the telephone numbers of your close friends / family members stored in a separate notebook or online (on cloud, web mail etc.) so that you can retrieve them quickly should the need arise (especially when you lose your mobile phone).
- When withdrawing money from an ATM, be extremely vigilant. Do not be distracted by anyone; refuse any offers of help from strangers. Be wary also of ATM fraud.
- Do not be engrossed in your handphones or music devices when in public areas. Find a safe corner before checking your phone messages to avoid snatch theft.
- Do not flash your jewellery and other valuables (such as premium fashion wear). If faced with armed criminals, it may be wiser to hand over the valuables than to resist and risk death or serious injury. Be aware that when shopping for jewellery and high-end items such as watches in boutiques, you could be observed by criminal elements from afar.
- Armed robberies can occur at hotels and shopping malls, and even in broad daylight. If you are caught in such a situation, consider the following advice to minimise personal injury.:(a) Comply and do not resist; (b) do not make sudden movements; (c) avoid eye contact with the criminal; and (d) avoid anything that might antagonise the criminal.
- If you plan to visit wildlife reserves, go on safaris, do trekking or visit beaches or rivers to swim, please check weather/safety reports. Animals can be dangerous. Some parts of the country are not malaria-free. Avoid isolated areas even during the day when hiking or visiting the beach. Please refer to the South Africa National Parks website at https://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=57375 for some safety tips.
- Female travellers should consider travelling in a larger group of both sexes.
- Whenever arriving at a new or unfamiliar place, make a quick mental survey to quickly establish where the fire exits or escape routes are should there be a sudden need to evacuate the premises for any security reason such as a power cut or criminal situation.
- In addition to purchasing comprehensive travel insurance and being acquainted with the terms and coverage, you should always keep your insurer informed the moment you think you might need to make a claim.
If you have travelled to a country listed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a yellow fever endemic country / region before entering South Africa, proof of yellow fever vaccination will be required by South African authorities. You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid WHO International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis.
You may wish to consult Tan Tock Seng Hospital’s Travellers’ Health and Vaccination Clinic (THVC) (Tel: 6357 2222, Email: email@example.com ) for vaccination and other medical advice.
Customs / Duty Free Allowances
Singaporean travellers may wish to visit the website of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) at https://www.sars.gov.za/ClientSegments/Customs-Excise/Travellers/Pages/Arrival-in-SA.aspx to see what the latest duty free allowances are for travellers entering South Africa and also the current list of prohibited items.
Other Arrival Requirements
- The South African immigration authorities require travellers to have at least 6 months’ validity on their passports from the date of entry into South Africa. Travellers should also have at least 2 blank pages in their passports.
- If you are travelling to other neighbouring countries such as Namibia, kindly check with the respective embassies for their requirements on travelling with children. For example, Namibia requires parents travelling with children under 18 to have the original birth certificate or a certified true copy which lists down the names of both parents. If the child is travelling with one parent, the absent parent should also issue a letter of consent in the form of an affidavit.
Awareness of spontaneous outbreaks of social unrest
- Strikes, protests and demonstrations in major cities and townships can happen without warning. The media have reported incidents of violence in Cape Town (the townships of Philippi and Samora Machel), Johannesburg (neighbourhoods of Hillbrow, Jeppestown, Malvern, Troyeville, Turffontein, township of Alexandra) and Pretoria (neighbourhood of Sunnyside in the CDB). A good resource to refer to are the social media webpages of the local authorities for updates on the local security situation:
- Travelling on roads and highways is generally safe. Avoid stopping in isolated areas and at night, even if beckoned by men in police uniform. When self-driving, Singaporeans should stick to major roads and highways. For example, it is generally safer to drive along the National Highways (marked by an N-prefix) and regional/provincial roads (marked by an R-prefix). Drivers should avoid stopping on highways if possible. For more overseas safe driving tips, please refer to the Automobile Association of Singapore’s website
- Please observe the speed limit. If no road signs are present, the general speed limits are 60km/h in an urban area, 100km/h on a public road outside an urban area and 120 km/h on the highway. You may wish to consult your car rental company for more information.
- GPS and similar devices will pick the shortest route without regard for road conditions, safety and other hazards. It is better to take a longer route by sticking to main roads (N, M and R), and paying heed to signages and surroundings, and not rely entirely on navigation devices. Before driving off for the first time in any vehicle, travellers are advised to first familiarise themselves with the various functions of their car’s onboard Sat Nav / GPS device in case there is an urgent need to locate the nearest points of assistance (e.g. police station, hospital, etc.).
- Drivers also need to pay heed to natural hazards such as animals, fog and flash floods, especially when driving at night as some roads are not illuminated.
- When there is a defective traffic light or when you are at rural intersections (cross junctions), the first car to arrive at the line has priority.
- There have been reported cases of rocks or other items being thrown from overhead bridges or left on expressways with the aim of confusing drivers or damaging tyres, so that criminals may rob them when drivers stop at the roadside to check their cars.
- When travelling in private cars, keep your bags and valuables in the boot and out of sight to avoid “smash and grab” robbery attempts when the car slows down or stops.
- When locking the car by remote control, physically double-check that doors are indeed locked; robbers are known to use anti-jamming devices to foil the remote locking.
- When you are departing from a hotel or airport, it is always a good idea to be observant of the other vehicles around you to ascertain if you are being followed. If you suspect that you are being followed by suspicious persons, drive to the nearest police station (if indicated on the GPS) or to a public space like petrol station or back to the hotel and call the local police on 10111.
- If another vehicle collides into the back of your car in an isolated location and at an unusual hour, it could be a robbery attempt. It is better to drive to the nearest police station than to stop and get out to check.
- When renting a car, ensure that the tyres are in good condition (i.e. not cracked or damaged). Be prepared for breakdowns and familiarize yourself with the steps needed to change a car tyre if punctured. Please clarify with your car rental company on the steps to take in the event of an accident or car breakdown.
- It is not advisable to rent a car and drive immediately after arriving in South Africa on long plane flight given the fatigue, jetlag and time difference. Do not drive alone but make a plan to switch driving duties with your travel partners. Plan to have regular rest stops in a safe location such as a petrol station.
- If you require roadside assistance, check with your car rental firm directly as they usually provide them. Or else, try the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA-SA) which has a 24 hour hotline at +27 861 000234 (or dial 0861 000 234 if your mobile phone has auto roaming). Kindly note that emergency services rendered by AA-SA are charged at a different rate for non-members. Special arrangements currently exist between AA Singapore and AA-SA so AA Singapore members should bring along their valid membership cards if you intend to drive in South Africa. You may wish to contact AA Singapore at www.aas.com.sg for more details of this reciprocity before you travel.