COVID-19 Information

Last updated: January 5, 2022

For non-U.S. citizens seeking information about current travel restrictions affecting travel to the United States, please see https://za.usembassy.gov/visas/

***  Effective December 6, 2021, all airline passengers to the United States ages two years and older, regardless of vaccination status or citizenship, must provide a negative COVID-19 viral test taken within one calendar day of travel. Alternatively, travelers to the United States may provide documentation from a licensed health care provider of having recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days preceding travel. Check the CDC website for additional information and Frequently Asked Questions.

***  Effective November 8, 2021, all non-immigrant, non-U.S. citizen air travelers to the United States will be required to be fully vaccinated and to provide proof of vaccination status prior to boarding an airplane to the United States.

Can I get and exemption or waiver to the testing requirement?

Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited basis when extraordinary emergency travel (like an emergency medical evacuation) must occur to preserve someone’s health and safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. There are no waivers available for individuals who test positive for COVID-19. Individuals – or air carriers seeking to allow boarding by potentially qualifying individuals – who believe they meet the criteria for a waiver should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at CDC-Test-Waiver-SA and provide the information requested. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will then submit the request to the CDC for consideration. Please visit the CDC webpages for more information about exemptions and the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the United States.

Country-Specific Information

The level 1 lockdown maintains several COVID-19 preventative regulations including mandatory masks in public places (with penalties for non-compliance), however, the relaxation of restrictions include all gatherings will be limited to a maximum of 1,000 people indoors and 2000 people outdoors. Restaurants and eateries will continue to operate while observing strict health protocols.

COVID-19 health and safety protocols must continue to be followed at all times, including observance of guidelines for social distancing of 2 meters, sanitation and hygiene, and use of appropriate personal protective equipment, like cloth face masks, as determined by the South African National Department of Health. Many retail shops and services, supermarkets, pharmacies, and businesses continue to operate in line with safety protocols but will be strictly enforcing mask rules. For detailed information, visit the Government of South Africa’s Covid-19 Adjusted Alert Level 1 Regulations.

COVID-19 Testing

  • Are PCR and/or antigen tests available for U.S. citizens in South Africa? Yes.
  • PCR testing is widely available. There are some private enterprises running COVID-19 testing with a price around $80-100 USD.
  • If so, are test results available within one calendar day? Yes.

    • PCR test results are generally available in one calendar day, in line with CDC regulations. U.S. citizens should check with the facility or laboratory for specific information on how long on average it takes to receive results.
  • Information on where and how to obtain a COVID-19 test:

    • Locations: Hospitals will generally only conduct COVID-19 tests for incoming patients in possession of a doctor’s letter. The U.S. Embassy does not recommend any specific testing facilities, but is aware of several providers, including: Ampath Laboratories, NextPathology Biosciences, Lancet Laboratories, Dis-Chem Pharmacy, PathCare, Epicenter, Biosmart Laboratories, Travel Doctor, and some urgent care / day clinics like Intercare. Several testing sites offer a drive-through option, while others have private appointments. Please check with testing centers for more information.
    • Payment: Public sector testing is free of charge; however, this option is not available for testing for travel purposes only. At private testing facilities, U.S. citizens must pay for their COVID-19 test; it is not covered by the South African government. Verify payment options with the testing facility. Inquire with the respective laboratory to verify their testing costs and requirements. It is advisable to check with your health insurance to ascertain if they will cover the costs for the test.
    • Cost: Average cost for a COVID-19 PCR test is $50-60 USD (R850.00). Some private testing enterprises may charge up to $80-100 USD.
  • Delivery of Results: Most testing facilities will return test results electronically by email and text message.
  • Further information:  U.S. citizens may visit the government of South Africa’s Coronavirus FAQ page HERE, or call the NICD hotline at 0800-029-999 for more information on testing facilities.

COVID-19 Vaccine Information:

  • Are vaccines available in South Africa for U.S. citizens to use? Yes
  • South Africa has received sufficient vaccine doses and is vaccinating South African citizens and non-citizens over the age of 12. Please see South Africa’s vaccine strategy for COVID-19 HERE and continue to monitor South Africa’s vaccination rollout plan.
  • Which vaccines are available in South Africa?
  • Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.
  • Visit the FDA’s website to learn more about FDA-approved vaccines in the United States.
  • The United States Government does not plan to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to private U.S. citizens overseas. Please follow host country developments and guidelines for COVID-19 vaccination or visit this page for more information.

Entry and Exit Requirements:

  • Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes.
  • On November 11, 2020, President Ramaphosa announced that the Government of South Africa would open up international travel to all countries subject to the necessary health protocols and the presentation of a negative COVID-19 certificate. On February 28, 2021, President Ramaphosa announced that 20 land border crossings will be open with valid PCR or antigen tests required for entry while some 33 land border crossings will remain closed.
  • Visa Information: For foreigners present in South Africa, the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced new directives extending the validity of legally-acquired visas or permits until the end of December 2021 for holders who have not departed South Africa since the announcement of the National State of Disaster in March 2020, and arrived with a valid visa between December 2019 and 14 March 2021.  Holders of such visas are permitted to remain in the country under the conditions of their visas until the end of December 2021. Those wishing to be repatriated to their countries within this period can depart without being declared “undesirable persons.”  The extension does not apply to people who entered the country from 15 March 2021. The normal validity period of visas of people admitted into the country from 15 March 2021 applies. Please note that it is incumbent on the individual to contact DHA for details about the visa extension process.If you are an American citizen in South Africa wanting more information on prospective travel to the United States, please ensure you are enrolled in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the most current information.  The U.S. Mission to South Africa’s American Citizen Services will send any updates to the public by email through STEP, which is the U.S. Department of State’s central platform for mass email communication.
  • Is a negative COVID-19 test (PCR and/or serology) required for entry? Yes.
    • On arrival, travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure.
    • Where a traveler has not done a COVID-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
    • All travelers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted.
    • All travelers will be asked to install the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app.
  • Are health screening procedures in place at airports and other ports of entry? Yes.

Movement Restrictions

  • Is a curfew in place? No.
  • Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? No.                                  

Quarantine Information:

  • Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? No.
    • On arrival, travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 test result not older than 72 hours from time of departure.
    • Where a traveler has not done a COVID-19 test prior to departure, they will be required to remain in mandatory quarantine at their own cost.
    • All travelers will be screened on arrival and those presenting with symptoms will be required to remain in quarantine until a repeat COVID-19 test is conducted.
    • All travelers will be asked to install the COVID Alert South Africa mobile app.

Transportation Options

  • Are commercial flights operating? Yes.
    • Domestic and international air travel is operating within South Africa. Prospective travelers will only be able to use one of the land border posts that have remained operational during Alert Level 1 or one of the five open international airports including the three main airports: King Shaka, OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airport.
    • Due to restrictions related to the Omicron lease contact airlines directly for flight information and booking.
  • Is public transportation operating? Yes.

Public rail, minibus taxi, and bus services have resumed at reduced levels subject to social distancing and mandatory use of face masks for passengers and drivers. Minibus taxis and buses must reduce their maximum licensed passenger seating capacity to 70% a vehicle, e-hailing services that are licensed to carry up to four passengers are limited to carrying 50% of their permissible passenger carrying capacity. Transport services are required to provide adequate sanitizers for washing of hands of all passengers. Operators must ensure that their vehicles are sanitized before picking up and after dropping off passengers.

Fines for Non-Compliance:

  • There are fines and possible imprisonment (up to 6 months) for non-compliance of mandatory mask wearing in public places. South Africa Police Services and local authorities are responsible for enforcement of business operation regulations.

Consular Operations:

  • U.S. Consulates General JohannesburgCape Town, and Durban have resumed all American Citizen Services.  Should you require services at your nearest U.S. Consulate in South Africa, please write or call using contact information at https://za.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/emergency-contact/.
  • Visa Services: The U.S. Consulates General in South Africa are conducting visa interviews and accepting interview waiver applications.  If you fall into one of these categories and are unable to schedule an immediate appointment or interview waiver please follow instructions at https://ais.usvisa-info.com to request an expedited appointment or email your nearest U.S. Consulate.  If you are eligible to apply for or renew your visa under the interview waiver program, we strongly encourage you do so.  Eligibility is determined based on the answers provided to questions during the online appointment scheduling process. For questions regarding scheduling an appointment online, requesting an expedited appointment, or renewing your U.S. visa via courier, please call +27 87 550 2160. Customer service center agents are available Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm local time.

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