Re-opening of South African borders and ports of entry for international travellers

The South African Government has reopened 18 land ports of entry with effect from 1 October 2020.

Who is affected?

This will affect all international travellers intending to travel to South Africa or who are currently resident in South Africa.


Following the announcement of a National State of Disaster and subsequent implementation of strict measures to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, South Africa restricted entry to the country to everyone except citizens.

South Africa is gradually lifting these measures as the spread of the virus is slowing in the country with about 50 000 active cases. There is still a significant risk of a second wave of infections as observed in many other countries.

The President of the Republic of South Africa has announced the easing of the nationwide lockdown to level 1. Following this announcement, the Department of Home Affairs, published Regulations and Directives applicable to all foreign nationals who are currently resident in the Republic of South Africa, International Travellers intending to visit South Africa and Visa Services, including submission of applications.


Visa Expiries

Any foreign national who is already present in the Republic of South Africa and whose temporary residence visa has already expired since mid-February 2020, will be allowed to renew their visas provided they meet all the prescribed requirements.

The Department of Home Affairs has also extended the validity period of legally issued visas which expired during the lockdown period to 31 January 2021.

Any foreign national who decides to depart from the Republic of South Africa after the lockdown instead of renewing their visas will also not be declared undesirable upon departure.

Foreign Nationals Travelling to and from South Africa

Travellers from high-risk countries, whose visas have previously been revoked will now be able to enter South Africa subject to special conditions, as per the Regulations and Directives.

Travellers from high-risk countries, who wish to undertake business travel to South Africa, may with effect from 01 October 2020, in writing, apply to the Minister of Home Affairs and demonstrate reasons for their request to enter the Republic for business purposes during the period of the national state of disaster.

Holiday travellers from high-risk countries will not be permitted, unless they have spent 10 days or more in a low risk country before departure, and they will be considered as arriving from a low risk country.

The list of high-risk countries are updated bi-monthly and can be found here.

Requirements for travel

Travellers must present a medical certificate confirming a negative PCR test result for COVID-19 that is less than 72 hours old at the time of departure. On arrival, everyone will undergo a health screening, and people showing COVID-19 symptoms will be tested. If the test result is positive, they will be required to be quarantined at their own cost. Travelers are also required to have mandatory travel insurance that covers the cost of a COVID-19 test (for those showing symptoms) and quarantine costs and install the government contact tracing app and show proof of a confirmed accommodation booking.

New Visa or Permit Applications

The Department of Home Affairs has resumed Visa services, including submission of applications through VFS Global. Submissions are restricted to the following categories: Visitor’s Visas; Study Visa; Treaty Visa; Business Visa; Crew Visa; Medical Treatment Visa; Relative’s Visa; General Work Visa; Critical Skills Work Visa; Intra-Company Transfer Work Visa; Retired Person Visa; Corporate Visa; Exchange Visa; Waivers; and Appeals or Reviews.

Not all of these services will be available through our Missions abroad.

How Santa Fe can assist

Santa Fe can support your business with any immigration compliance and advisory issues concerning your expatriate population. We can review current employees’ visas and assist with necessary advice or solutions to ensure ongoing compliance with the South African Immigration Act and Regulations.

We will also keep your business updated on ongoing developments on all South African immigration matters and will advise on any changes requiring your attention.

Should you have any questions, please contact:

Terence Rover
Immigration Manager – South Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 442 8933
M: +27 (0) 72 279 9606

Paolo Longo
Regional Immigration Director – India, Middle East & Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 595 2337
M: +27 (0) 83 677 7949


To read more immigration updates, click here

About our Immigration Services

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