• Travellers from the United Kingdom and United States are among those banned
  • A total of 57 countries are on the list of banned travellers
  • Travellers from all African countries are allowed
  • On arrival, all travellers must produce a COVID-19 test result that is not older than 72 hours from the time of departure from the country of origin
  • Travellers are also expected to install the COVID-Alert APP on their phones

South Africa reopens its borders today (October 1) with the United States, United Kingdom and Russia among countries on the banned leisure travel list.

Ministers from the National Coronavirus Command Council on Wednesday gave necessary clarifications on how the borders would be re-opened for travel.

According to the minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor, the gradual reopening of borders and ports of entry informed by a cautious approach meant that a limited number of ports of entry and borders will be opened from October 1.

“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,” she said.


Travellers intending to visit South Africa 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.

In addition, international travellers are expected to abide by the regulations which include mandatory wearing of masks at all times, practising social distancing in public spaces, and regular washing or sanitizing of hands.


One of the ground-breaking innovations that has been introduced by South Africa is the COVID-Alert APP which alerts subscribers and provides relevant information if they have been in contact with any person who has tested positive for the virus. The APP helps to minimize the risk of spreading the virus.

International travellers are encouraged to download the APP to enable them monitor and minimise their risk of exposure to the Covid-19 virus.

Risk Categorisation

South Africa has also 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.

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 who will undergo the same health protocol screenings.

Airlines from high risk countries are not necessarily banned, but their crew will be required to isolate in facilities at designated accommodation at the cost of their employer.

Designated ports of entry

Three airports will be opened and operational for international air travel. These airports are OR Tambo International (in Johannesburg, Gauteng), Cape Town International (in Cape Town, Western Cape) and King Shaka International in (Durban, KwaZulu-Natal).

Travellers from African countries

Travellers from all African countries are allowed and must possess relevant travel documents and will also be screened for Covid-19 symptoms.

To facilitate free movements of people, goods and services from South Africa, SADC and the African continent, travellers from the neighbouring countries are allowed to visit the country.

Sea ports operations

To facilitate ease of transportation of goods and medicines to and from the country, ships will be allowed to dock, load and off-load cargo. Crew members from the cargo ships will be allowed to do crew changes. These crew members will also be medically screened for Covid-19 symptoms. Passenger liners for luxury travel are still not allowed to dock and off-load passengers.

 Banned leisure travel list

The following are the countries on the banned leisure travel list:

Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Faroe Islands, France, French Polynesia, Georgia, Gibraltar, Greece, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary,

Iceland, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Jordan, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Maldives, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Panama, Palau, Paraguay, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, Qatar, Russia, San Marino, St Marteen, Slovakia, Slovenia, Suriname, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, US Virgin Islands, and Venezuela.


NP/Tony Ekata/Monitored



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