As Covid-19 cases decline and more people are vaccinated, countries are slowly starting to reopen their borders to travellers from South Africa.
Canada said it would allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the country for non-essential purposes from Tuesday (7 September), provided they meet certain conditions.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has also eased travel restrictions for vaccinated South Africans.
While South Africans arriving on tourist visas must still take a mandatory rapid PCR test at the airport, the change means that passengers will be allowed to travel to their final destination through Dubai from South Africa – subject to specific requirements.
Parts of Europe have also begun opening up travel for vaccinated South Africans, with Germany, France, and Spain relaxing some restrictions in recent weeks for those who have had a jab.
Saudi Arabia has also removed South Africa from its list of banned countries.
While South Africa has mostly kept its borders open to international tourists since easing its first hard lockdown in mid-2020, other countries have not reciprocated, and South Africans still face strict travel restrictions.
This also impacts travellers who are dissuaded from visiting South Africa because of their difficulties returning to their own countries.
A mapping tool developed by travel website Skyscanner shows that as of 8 September, South Africa has 79 ‘major restrictions’ from other countries in place. This is up from around 60 major restrictions before the third Covid wave hit.
These countries have suspended travel, may be closed to entry, or entry may only be possible if you are a citizen/meet strict entrance requirements.
By comparison, there are currently 31 moderate restrictions for South Africa, where travel is possible, but only if travellers meet certain entry requirements, including taking Covid-19 tests.
The below table gives an overview of some of the major travel restrictions still in place for South Africa as of Wednesday (8 September).
This does not constitute travel advice and is for comparison purposes only. South Africans should still check with the respective health authorities before travelling.
|Restrictions on people travelling from South Africa
|Australia’s borders are currently closed, and entry to Australia remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. Travel to Australia is only available if you are exempt or you have been granted an individual exemption.
|Chinese and foreign passengers travelling from or transiting through South Africa must apply for ‘Green Health Codes’ (for Chinese citizens only) by submitting their Covid-19 negative certificates for nucleic acid tests to Chinese embassies or consulates.
|Fully vaccinated travellers are no longer subject to restrictions to travel to or from France, whatever the country of departure. However, the French embassy strongly advises against travel from France to countries on the “red” list, including South Africa.
|From August, South Africa is no longer listed as a ‘variant of concern’ area but only as a high-risk area. The general travel ban has been lifted; however, travellers should still expect mandatory testing and quarantine requirements.
|South Africa is classified as ‘high risk’ by Spanish authorities. While travel is permitted, travellers should expect mandatory testing and quarantine requirements.
|Entry to New Zealand from all countries remains strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. South Africans are expected to go through managed isolation if they are allowed entry.
|South Africa is on the red list for entering England. If you have been in a country or territory on the red list in the last 10 days, you will only be allowed to enter the UK if you are a British or Irish National or have residence rights in the UK.
|Only people that qualify for the NIE visa exception are allowed entry into the US. The US also requires all air passengers entering the country to present a negative Covid-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure or proof of recovery from the virus within the last 90 days. Airlines must confirm the negative test result or proof of recovery for all passengers two years of age and over before boarding.