COVID-19 Related Travel Updates

 

On 4 October 2020, the South African Minister of Home Affairs reinstated the visa exemption status of Singapore citizens which was revoked at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020. Until further notice, Singapore passport holders may continue to visit South Africa without a visa.

 

Update: On 11 November 2020, the South African authorities opened their borders fully and restored incoming international travel to travellers from all countries on the condition that all arriving travellers submit a negative PCR COVID-19 test obtained not more than 72 hours before date of travel. Those who are unable to submit proof of a negative test will be quarantined at their own cost. Furthermore, all visitors must download the “COVID Alert SA” app onto their smartphones, which may be done in advance free of charge from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. Upon arrival, travellers will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms or contact with infected persons, and if they display any symptoms or are suspected to have been in such contact, they will be expected to take a mandatory COVID-19 test and quarantine at their own cost, where necessary. 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

 

As of 17 December 2020, travellers will also be required to complete a web-based COVID-19 travel health questionnaire ahead of arrival, which is accessible at https://sa-covid-19-travel.info. Upon completion, travellers will receive a unique ID number that has to be presented to Port Health officials upon arrival. 

 

 

Note: The South African authorities previously spoke about requiring travel insurance covering COVID-19 for all incoming travellers/tourists. This is no longer a pre-requisite for entering South Africa. However, given the highly fluid global COVID-19 situation, Singaporean travellers coming to South Africa are still strongly encouraged to purchase travel insurance which includes a COVID-19 rider, and make sure the rider covers South Africa as well as other destinations of travel on the same trip.

 

 

For more information regarding South Africa’s Adjusted Alert Level 3 regulations announced on 28 December 2020, please refer to https://www.gov.za/covid-19/about/alert-level-3-during-coronavirus-covid-19-lockdown. Further updates and news on the current COVID-19 situation in South Africa can be found on the official Twitter page of the Department of Health of South Africa at https://twitter.com/HealthZA and the official COVID-19 website at www.sacoronavirus.co.za

 

 

Singaporeans who require urgent consular assistance when in South Africa may call the High Commission at +27 12 430 6035 (office hours) or the Emergency hotline +27 72 988 8759 (after office hours). For all other queries on travel which are non-urgent in nature, we kindly request that an email be sent to singhc_pry@mfa.sg so that we can provide a comprehensive reply.

 


 


General Travel Information for South Africa 

 

It is safe to visit South Africa. Over 10 million tourists visit the country every year. Many foreigners live and work in South Africa without incident.  First-time visitors should however know that crimes do happen. Major tourism sites during daylight hours are generally safer.   Repeat visitors should not become complacent. Away from the familiarity and safety of home, Singaporeans should be alert to their new surrounding. We have to switch to a different presence of mind.  What is safe in Singapore (e.g. 5-star hotels, shopping malls and Central Business Districts) may be unsafe overseas. [1] Every country has a different law and order situation and approach. The following do’s and don’ts illustrate the precautionary attitude required to minimise the risk of falling victim to crime, and are not meant to be exhaustive.

 

 

Personal safety


  • 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. [2] 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.
  • Do not carry large sums of cash, as robbers are known to target travellers whom they believe like to carry cash.
  • 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.
  • 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 crime.
  • If you plan to visit 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. [3] Please refer to the SA National Parks website for some safety tips https://www.sanparks.org/about/news/default.php?id=57375
  • Female travellers should consider travelling in a larger group of both sexes. [4]
  • Armed robberies can occur at hotels and shopping malls. 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, (d) do not do anything to antagonise the criminal.
  • Whenever arriving at a new or unfamiliar place, we suggest making 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.

 

 

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). In addition, protests and looting have been reported in the KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces in July 2021. Travellers should avoid affected areas and monitor local media for updates.

A good resource to refer to are the social media webpages of the local authorities for updates on the local security situation, such as:

 

 

Driving

 

  • 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 www.aas.com.sg/our-services/overseas-safe-driving-tips.html

 

 

Other useful tips

 

  • 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.
  • 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 if the need arises (especially when you lose your mobile phone).
  • If you pay by credit card, ensure that the vendor brings the mobile card payment machine to you and make 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.
  • When withdrawing money from an ATM, be extremely vigilant. Do not be distracted by anyone; refuse any offers of help. ATM fraud does happen.  
  • Try not to carry all your credit cards and cash together in one lot.
  • Keep a copy of your passport data page as well as the page with the arrival immigration stamp.
  • 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 condition, 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 the surrounding, and not rely entirely on navigation devices. [5] 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,  doctor 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 being thrown from overhead bridges at cars on the expressway on cars with the aim to confuse drivers so that they would stop at the road side to check their cars.  On more remote roads, traps such as barbed wire are also sometimes put on the road to cause cars tyres be damaged. The aim is to make motorists stop their cars on the road side and criminals would rob them.
  • 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.


 

Arrival Requirements

 

  • The South African immigration authorities require travellers to have at least 6 months validity on their passport from the date of entry into South Africa.  Travellers should also have at least 2 blank pages in their passports.
  • South Africa has strict entry regulations for minors (i.e. those under 18 years) to prevent child trafficking. Any minor travelling with one parent or without his/her parents into South Africa will need to bring along certain documentation for entry into South Africa. Please contact the High Commission of South Africa in Singapore for more details and refer to http://www.dha.gov.za/index.php/statements-speeches/621-updated-advisory-new-requirements-for-children-travelling-through-south-african-ports-of-entry
  • Note: 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.

 

 

Customs / Duty Free Allowances

 

Singaporean travellers may wish to visit the website of the South African Revenue Services (SARS) to see what the latest duty free allowances are for travellers entering South Africa and also the current list of prohibited items.https://www.sars.gov.za/ClientSegments/Customs-Excise/Travellers/Pages/Arrival-in-SA.aspx

 

 

Vaccination

 

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:  thvc@ttsh.com.sg ) for vaccination and other medical advice.

 

 

Footnotes

 

[1] In October 2017, two Singaporeans were robbed on their way to the beach near Mitchells Plain (about 32km away from Cape Town).  In July 2019, some Singaporeans staying at a high-end hotel in Cape Town were traumatised by an armed robbery in the hotel lobby.   

[2] In May 2017, a group of Singaporeans on their way to their hotel in Johannesburg were intercepted by fake police on the expressway who made off with their valuables.  In August 2018, a Singaporean who had done some shopping in up-market shopping centre in Sandton was followed back to the hotel and robed by armed criminals.  Because he put up a struggle, shots were fired and he was fortunate to escape with a minor injury.  

[3] In June 2019, a visitor to a nature attraction in Pretoria, widely known to be a crime hotspot at dusk, was robbed.  In July 2019, a tourist who hiked alone in Greenpoint (Cape Town) which is generally safe was stabbed to death.

[4] In September 2019, a female tourist staying at a lodge near the Kruger National Park was raped.

[5] If you use your mobile phone’s GPS, you should be aware that phone reception and data transmission can be intermittent or non-existent in remote areas.

 

 

Singaporeans are strongly encouraged to eRegister with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg so that we can contact you should the need arise.  Singaporeans are also advised to stay in touch with your family and friends 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

 

Main General Telephone: +27-12-430 6035

Duty Officer Telephone/WhatsApp : +27-72-988 8759

Email: singhc_pry@mfa.sg

 

 

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office (24-Hours)

 

Tanglin, Singapore 248163

 

Telephone: +65 6379 8800 / 8855

Email: mfa_duty_officer@mfa.gov.sg

 

 

Emergency numbers in South Africa

 

Police: 10111

Ambulance: 10177

Mobile phone direct dial for emergency: 112 

 

 

Other Useful Contacts

 

  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 +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.

 

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.  You should concurrently contact your travel insurance firm.  The contact detail of International SOS in Johannesburg is + 27 11 541 1000 / 1300, and in Singapore +65 6 338 7800.  The cost of International SOS has to be borne by users or their insurance companies.  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.

 

 

Overseas Travel – Be Informed & Be Safe [13 November 2019]

 

In view of the upcoming school holidays, Singaporeans planning overseas travel are reminded to take the necessary precautions, including being prepared to deal with accidents, natural disasters or terrorist attacks. Singaporeans are also reminded to be familiar with your destination’s local laws and customs restrictions, including immigration procedures and entry requirements.

 

Singaporeans travelling to and from Malaysia, in particular via the land checkpoints, are reminded to ensure that your passport is presented to a Malaysian immigration officer and stamped correctly before leaving the Malaysian immigration booth. Failure to do so is an immigration offence in Malaysia and the penalties can be severe, including detention, a fine, and a ban from future entry into the country.

 

  In 2019, demonstrations have occurred in several major cities across the world. Such demonstrations can sometimes escalate into violence. It is important for Singaporeans to keep abreast of local news, avoid any protests or demonstrations and heed the advice of the local authorities. 

 

When participating in outdoor leisure activities overseas, Singaporeans should be mindful that certain sporting activities, especially in open seas, may carry risks. Besides ensuring that one has the physical competencies and appropriate condition to undertake the activity, every effort should be made to ascertain if the trip organiser or guide is reliable and competent, and that appropriate safety and contingency plans are in place. When in doubt, Singaporeans should consult the relevant professional bodies or sporting associations for specific advice.

 

 

For those planning to travel, here are some tips:

 

Before travelling

 

  • 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.

 

 

While travelling

 

  • 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.

 

 

In the event that you require consular assistance, please contact the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission or call the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Duty Office at +65 6379 8800/8855.

 

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