Last updated August 18, 2021
South Africa is a large and diverse country with a troubled past and a bright future. Throughout the country, you can find many monuments and museums about Apartheid, when the country was forcefully segmented by race and skin color. Today, the country is rebuilding with inclusivity in mind and celebrating the many diverse cultures and tribes that coexist in South Africa.
Is Travel Insurance Mandatory in South Africa?
No. Travel insurance for South Africa is not mandatory, but it's highly recommended that you get visitor health insurance for South Africa.
COVID-19 in South Africa
As of July 2021, the government of South Africa is allowing international travel from all countries into South Africa. However, anyone who comes into the country must present a negative COVID-19 certificate. At the same time, the CDC currently places South Africa at a Level 4, the highest level for COVID-19 severity in the country. For this reason, the CDC strongly recommends that travelers avoid traveling to South Africa.
If you have to visit the country, consider Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) insurance so that you may recoup some of your costs if you need to cancel, postpone or cut short your original travel plans for any reason, including COVID-19-related concerns.
If travel is a must, here are some precautions to take:
Before you travel:
- Get tested with a viral test 1 to 3 days before your trip
- If you were exposed to COVID-19, are sick, or test positive for the disease, do not travel
- Follow all entry requirements for South Africa and be sure you have all required documentation
- Wear a mask
- Practice social distancing protocols
- Wash your hands often
- Be vigilant. If you experience any symptoms take all necessary precautions to protect yourself and those around you
After you travel:
- Get tested 3 to 5 days after you return to your home country
- Stay home and self-quarantine for 7 days
- If you don't get tested, it's best to self-quarantine for at least 10 days
Traveling from the United States:
- If you have a return flight to the U.S., you must get a viral test in South Africa no more than 3 days before your flight, and the test results have to be negative
- Keep your test results on hand in case you're asked for them
- Follow all United States guidelines and airline protocols
Health & Safety Tips
South Africa has relatively high crime rates, but it's certainly navigable, especially by savvy travelers. In large cities, it's a good idea to stay away from dark alleys and backstreets, particularly after dark. Avoid walking around alone after dark and do not wear flashy jewelry or expensive brands that may attract unwanted interest. Don't take out your wallet often or publicize where you keep your money as it will only make you an easier target for pickpockets.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) recommend the following vaccinations for South Africa: hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, yellow fever, rabies, meningitis, polio, MMR (measles, mumps and rubella), Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis), chickenpox, shingles, pneumonia and influenza.
Visas and Documentation
Most people visiting South Africa for 90 days or less do not need a special visa to enter the country. This includes travelers from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and India. For more information please visit the South African Government's page on visas.