Emergency Preparedness for U.S. Citizens Living Abroad

U.S. citizens living abroad face a host of challenges, but no matter where we live, we are wise to be prepared for emergency situations that can result from natural disasters, technological & accidental hazards, terrorist attacks, social unrest, pandemics, or other reasons. The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to South Africa is providing this information about emergency preparedness to assist U.S. citizens in South Africa. We encourage you to share this information with family members and friends.

The safety and security of U.S. citizens abroad is among the highest priorities of the U.S. Department of State. The State Department routinely provides standard advice to its employees and other U.S. citizens on prudent steps to take to ensure they would be prepared in the event of an evacuation. Here are some steps you can take to prepare your family for an emergency situation or crisis condition.

  • Check to be sure that your U.S. passport and any necessary visas are valid and that you are registered in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) with your current address and phone number. If you need a new passport, make an appointment at the nearest U.S. Consulate General in South Africa.
  • Keep U.S. visas current for any non-U.S. citizen members of your family. Refer to the U.S. Mission to South Africa’s visa webpage for information about how to apply for visas.
  • Assemble all vital documents such as passports, birth and marriage records, vaccination records, insurance records, and bank records in one readily accessible location.
  • Prepare a detailed home inventory to document your possessions, along with the description, date of purchase, model number, serial number, and value. Consider making a video record of your possessions and storing it online.
  • Prepare a Basic Disaster Supplies Kit with adequate supplies of food, water, medications, and other supplies that will allow you to shelter in place during any sort of localized emergency for at least 72 hours.
  • Put together a “Go Bag” (including items like water, food, cash, passports, important documents, radio, cellphone, extra batteries, change of clothing, flashlights, candles, personal medications; and first aid kit).
  • Make sure your car is in good working order. Keep the gas tank full and check oil, coolant, tires, and battery.
  • In the case of an extended electricity disruption, the following items are useful: generator, generator service/maintenance, fuel for generator, candles, matches/lighters, gas stoves (including gas cylinders and lighting attachments), and flashlights (including extra batteries and spare bulbs).
  • Designate a family rendezvous point in case you are separated and unable to return home.
  • Identify an in-country safe haven, in case you need to evacuate your area. Consider reciprocating with a friend or contact who lives elsewhere in the country.
  • Consider your household staff in any preparations, as they may be in a vulnerable position.
  • Plan for pets. Make advanced arrangements with local citizens. We recommend giving them food and supplies to care for the pet, rather than cash.


As mentioned above, we strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in South Africa enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at travel.state.gov. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for South Africa. For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria and U.S. Consulates General in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban are located at the addresses below. The U.S. Embassy in Pretoria does not have a consular section and does not provide consular services to U.S. citizens. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, outside of business hours, contact the nearest U.S. Consulate General at the emergency after-hours number listed below.

U.S. Consulate General, Johannesburg
(Covering Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, and Free State provinces)
1 Sandton Drive (corner of Rivonia and Sandton Drive)
Sandhurst, Johannesburg
Tel: 011-290-3000 (outside South Africa: +27-11-290-3000)
After-hours emergencies: 079-111-1684 (outside South Africa: +27-79-111-1684)

U.S. Consulate General, Cape Town
(Covering Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape provinces)
2 Reddam Avenue
Westlake, Cape Town
Tel: 021-702-7300 (outside South Africa: +27 21-702-7300)
After-hours emergencies: 079-111-0391 (outside South Africa: +27-79-111-0391)

U.S. Consulate General, Durban
(Covering KwaZulu-Natal Province)
Old Mutual Building, 31st floor
303 Dr. Pixley Kaseme Street
Tel: 031-305-7600 (outside South Africa +27-31-305-7600)
After-hours emergencies: 079-111-1445 (outside South Africa +27-79-111-1445)

U.S. Embassy to the Republic of South Africa
(Note: The Embassy does not provide consular services)
877 Pretorius Street
Arcadia, Pretoria
Tel: 012-431-4000 (outside South Africa: +27-12-431-4000)