Frequently Asked Questions
Time differences — South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich mean time making it an hour ahead of central European winter time, seven hours ahead of eastern standard winter time, and seven hours behind Australian central time.
Passports & visas — for the majority of foreign nationals who travel to South Africa for vacation, entry is straightforward, and hassle free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport, in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa.
Travellers from certain regions of the world (Scandinavia, japan, the USA, and most western European and commonwealth countries) do not need to formally apply for a visa. Upon arrival in South Africa, countries falling into this category will automatically be given a free entry permit sticker that outlines how long they may remain in the country. This automatic entry permit is usually for a maximum of 90 days, though the immigration officer may tailor the time period according to the airline tickets held. Foreign nationals from some other countries are offered this service, but for a maximum of 30 days. If the visitors want to stay for a longer period, they will have to apply formally for a visa, as opposed to relying on the automatic entry permit.
Under South Africa’s immigration act of 2002 (act 13 of 2002) in force since 7 April 2003, (a) immigration act 2002, passports must contain at least one unused page when presented for endorsements. This requirement is the same as many of the world’s top travel destinations, and in line with the majority of global destinations requirements. Failure to have a clear page can result in refused entry.
To determine whether you require a visa to enter South Africa, visit the comprehensive South African home affairs department website: visit website.
For South African missions abroad, visit website.
New regulations for children travelling to and from South Africa
From 1 October 2014, South Africans’ must comply with new regulations relating to children who travel to and from South Africa. These new regulations were promulgated in terms of the South African immigration amendment act of 2010 and define children as persons under the age of 18.
When parents are travelling with a child, an unabridged birth certificate showing the names of both parents is required. In cases where the certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
Children travelling with only one parent – additional documents should include an affidavit including consent from the absent parent, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent. The affidavit should be no more than three months old, from date of travel.
In the case of a child travelling with a person other than a parent, the unabridged birth certificate must be supplemented by affidavits from the parents or legal guardians confirming that the child may travel with that person, copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian.
A child travelling as an unaccompanied minor would have to produce an unabridged birth certificate, and proof of consent from both parents, or legal guardian and contact details, plus documentation relating to the person receiving the child on arrival. The latter should include a letter stating the person’s contact details, residential address, and contact details where the child will be residing, plus a copy of his or her identity document, passport or residence permit.
All documents must either be original or certified as true copies, by a competent authority. Documents not in English must be accompanied by a sworn translation.
For more information also visit the department of home affairs South Africa: website
For customers resident in the UK you can also request further information by contacting the South African high commission
Tel: +44 20 7839 5198
Or in person at South Africa house.
Details for the South African Consulate information can be found at the following: website
Banks & money — the currency unit is the rand, denoted by the symbol r, with 100 cents making up r1 (one rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks, and bureaux de changes. Most major international credit cards such as American express, diners club, MasterCard, and visa are widely accepted.
Tipping — most restaurants do not add a service charge – thus it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. Parking and petrol station attendants can be given whatever small change you have available. Even a small amount is always appreciated.
Tax — value added tax (vat) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists can have their 15% vat refunded, provided that the value of the items purchased exceeds R250-00. Vat is refunded at the point of departure, provided receipts are produced.
Disabled travellers — an increasing number of accommodation establishments have wheelchair ramps, and bathroom facilities for the disabled. Almost every national park has at least one accessible chalet and many accommodation establishments have one or two wheelchair friendly rooms. Most sports stadiums have accessible suites, stands or areas for wheelchairs near accessible parking, as well as special toilet facilities. Most public buildings also cater for wheelchairs.
Clothing — the southern hemisphere seasons are directly opposite to those of the northern hemisphere. In summer, lightweight, short-sleeved clothes are best, although a light jersey / jumper might be needed for cooler evenings. Umbrellas, raincoats, and warmer clothes are needed for winter months.
Electricity — South Africa’s electricity supply: 220/230 volts ac 50 Hz. Exceptions: Pretoria (230 v) and Port Elizabeth (200 / 250 v). Most plugs have three round pins but some plugs with two smaller pins are also found on appliances. Adaptors can be purchased, but may be in short supply. Us-made appliances may need a transformer.
Health & safety — many foreigners are unaware that South Africa has a well-developed infrastructure, high standard of water treatment and medical facilities equal to the best in the world.
Hospitals & medical care — in many medical disciplines, south Africa is a global leader. In fact South African trained doctors are sought after all over the world, indicating the standard of medical care available. There is a large network of public and private hospitals countrywide, offering excellent service. However, clients must have adequate health insurance to cover private hospital fees.
Personal safety — South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists, provided they take basic common sense precautions, for example not walking alone in deserted areas at night and being circumspect about how much photographic equipment or flashy jewellery you carry. Most major cities run organized crime prevention programs. Basic safety tip guidelines will be available at hotels and tourism information offices.
If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the national tourism information and safety line on +27 (0) 83-123-2345. The number may also be used for practical assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.
Food & water — as a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink, as it is treated and is free of harmful micro-organisms. In hotels, restaurants, and night spots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation is top notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks.
Road safety — our transport infrastructure is excellent, and our roads are in good condition. However, the distances between towns are significant, so if you are planning to self-drive it is a good idea to plan your itinerary to ensure you don’t drive long distances, as fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. Avoid long car journeys that necessitate driving at night, as it always carries more risk. In some of the more remote rural areas, the roads are not fenced meaning there may be stray animals on the road.
We have very strict drinking and driving laws, with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. This is equates to one glass of wine for the average woman, and 1.5 or 2 for the average man. Speed limits are 120 km/h on open roads, 100 km/h on smaller roads and between 60 and 80 km/h in towns. Even major national roads cut through residential areas, meaning a speed limit of 80 or 60 km/h. This is to protect pedestrians, especially children, so compliance is encouraged.
Driving — visitors intending to drive need an international drivers permit. Anyone found without one will be fined and disallowed to continue on their journey. Without the permit, visitors will not be able to rent a car. Wearing seatbelts is compulsory, and strictly enforced by law.
Vaccinations — visitors to South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Only infants under the age of one year are exempt. Immunisation against cholera and small pox are not required.
Shopping — most major shopping centres and malls operate seven days a week, however, in smaller towns and rural areas shops are closed on Sundays.
Monday – Saturday: 09h00 – 17h00 | Sundays: 09h00 – 14h00