On 15 March 2020, the President of the Republic of South Africa, announced urgent and drastic measures to manage the COVID-19 outbreak, protect the people of South Africa and reduce the impact of the virus on society and on the local economy.

Who is affected?

This will affect all international travellers intending to travel to South Africa.


The COVID-19 virus emerged in central China in late December 2019 and the latest figures show it has infected more than 162 000 people. The World Health Organization has now classified COVID-19 a global pandemic.

South Africa recorded its first case of the COVID-19 virus on 5 March 2020, as of now, South Africa has 61 confirmed cases of people infected with the virus, and this number is expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.

The President of the Republic of South Africa announced travel restrictions and other measures to manage the COVID-19 outbreak in South Africa. These measures were discussed during an inter-ministerial meeting and the implementation will still be communicated in more detail by the relevant departments. It is however clear that this will have a material impact on many of our clients.


High-Risk Countries
A travel ban will be implemented on all foreign nationals from high-risk countries such as Italy, Iran, South Korea, Spain, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and China from 18 March 2020. The list of high-risk countries will continuously be monitored and updated. All Visitor’s Visas issued to travellers from high risk countries will be cancelled from 15 March 2020, visas that were already issued will also be revoked.

Any foreign national who has visited high-risk countries in the past 20 days will be denied a visa. South African citizens returning from high-risk countries will be subjected to testing and self-isolation or quarantine on return to South Africa.

All travellers who have entered South Africa from high-risk countries since mid-February will be required to present themselves for testing.

Medium-Risk Countries
Travellers from medium-risk countries – such as Portugal, Hong Kong and Singapore – will be required to undergo high intensity screening.

Port of Entry
Surveillance, screening and testing measures at OR Tambo, Cape Town and King Shaka will also be improved, which is likely to cause delays when entering the country.

35 of the 53 land ports will be shut down with effect from 16 March 2020.

2 of the 8 seaports will be closed for passengers and crew changes.

All schools will close from March 18 until after the Easter holiday break.

Government Travel
All non-essential travel for all spheres of government outside of the Republic is also prohibited, this is likely to place pressure on certain embassies which could lead to extended processing times of visa applications.

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 – Africa
Santa Fe Relocation
Johannesburg, South Africa
D: +27 (0) 10 442 8933
M: +27 (0) 72 279 9606
E: Terence.Rover@santaferelo.com

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
E: Paolo.longo@santaferelo.com

To read more immigration updates, click here 

About our Immigration Services

Our immigration services manage thousands of visa applications every year for a multitude of international companies. Our experienced immigration experts and migration agents handle the immigration process for you and provide simple reporting and guidance on immigration matters.

About us

Santa Fe Relocation is a Global Mobility company specialising in managing and delivering high-quality relocation services worldwide. Our core competence is providing services that help corporations and their employees as well as individuals and their families to relocate and settle in new places. These services are delivered to a consistently high standard, locally and globally, and managed through our own operations around the world. For more information, visit us at santaferelo.com.

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