COVID-19 Protocols & Regulations for international travelers entering South Africa & for travelers departing SA for international destinations

For a downloadable PDF version of the below information, click here

South Africa requires Travelers to have a negative COVID-19 PCR test result /certificate in order to be permitted entry into a country. These tests must have been done within72 hours of their flight departure.

Where the tests can be done:  The South African National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has set up testing units at OR Tambo, providing convenient testing facilities for travelers who need to obtain COVID-19 PCR test certificates before their travels from South Africa. The testing is available 24/7.

Travelers can be tested on the same day as their flights or have the test done a day or two ahead of their international flights, then collect their certificates on the day of departure.  Remember to take into consideration any transit stops that may prevent the traveler from reaching their final destination within the 72 hours after taking the test.

Arriving Travelers

Must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificates on arrival.  The certificates will be valid for all transit stops along the way.  These certificates must be no older than 72 hours.   

  • Tests are only valid for a single entry to South Africa.
  • If travelers are unable to provide a printed copy, digital copies must be e-mailed through to the port health authorities at OR Tambo International Airport, to:
  • Travelers must ensure the digital copy is sent in good time to reach the authorities prior to their arrival at the port. The traveler must show the  authorities the certificate on the mobile device as well as proof of the email sent.
  • For easy recognition of the e-mailed certificates, travelers must include their full name, surname, passport number, flight number and arrival date in the subject line of their emails to Port Health Authorities.
  • On occasion, where authorities deem necessary, additional COVID testing may be required upon arrival.
  • In such instances, or for any traveler who is not in possession of negative PCR results, they will be escorted by an NHLS staff member, to the airport’s testing facility.
  • All efforts will be made for the test to be carried out immediately.
  • Travelers are responsible for the cost of the test themselves.
  • The traveller must wait in a designated area for the results to be processed.
  • If the test is negative, the traveller will be permitted to enter the country.
  • If the test is positive, the traveller must enter quarantine for 10 days at a designated centre.  The quarantine costs will be for the traveler’s expense.
  • Foreign travelers must have COVID-19 Insurance for travel to South Africa, to cover any quarantine costs if applicable.
  • Any international traveler who refuses  to be tested must enter quarantine at a designated centre at their own expense.
  • It is highly recommended that all foreign travelers must download the free South African COVID Alert SA Mobile App, which can be downloaded from the App Store or Google Play.
  • Must complete a South Africa Traveler Health Questionnaire Entry or South Africa Traveler Health Questionnaire for Exiting (whichever is applicable) – see Forms section below.
  • Must preferably purchase international insurance before boarding their flight to South Africa.

Departing Travelers:

  • Children under the age of five are not required to be tested.
  • Mobile testing units are situated at OR Tambo International Airport, in front of the police station, opposite the Intercontinental Hotel.
  • Travelers will be advised of the test results within four to six hours, and they may wait at the airport in the designated area.
  • Alternatively, they may do testing a day or two before their departure date and collect their test certificates once completed. Travelers will be notified by SMS once their results are processed.
  • Once their COVID-19 PCR test certificates have been collected they may proceed to check-in.
  • Quarantine restrictions must be adhered to otherwise a penalty fine or more serious consequences will be levied against the traveler.
  • More information can be obtained at

Ensure you have your ID (for locals), or your passport (for international travelers), on you when travelling.

The Domestic screening declaration is not required for level 3.

Temperature Screening

Temperature screening is done when you enter the airport, and upon your arrival at international arrivals.  Travelers with a 37.2 degree temperature or higher will not be permitted entrance into the airport.

If you have any flu—like symptoms, lack of sense of smell or taste, do not travel.  

Domestic airports currently operating

OR Tambo International                Cape Town International                              King Shaka International

George                                               Upington International                                 Kruger Mpumalanga Int’l

Kimberley                                          Lanseria                                                            Margate

Plettenberg Bay                              Bram Fischer Int’l (Bloemfontein)             

Port Elizabeth International (renamed Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport w.e.f 1 March 2021)

East London (renamed   King Phalo Airport w.e.f 1 March 2021)

Domestic Travel within South Africa

Domestic travel is freely permitted across South Africa, however current level 1 regulations stipulate the following:

Current Restrictions – Level 3 (w.e.f. 15 June 2021) as per the SA government website:


Cost of the COVID PCR Test

The current cost of the PCR test is R850 incl. vat. Payments can be processed via credit card, cash or cheque cards only.  American Express cards are not accepted.

The Airports Company of South Africa (ACSA)  manages all main airports in the country.  For all COVID-related concerns re hygiene protocols, here are a few FAQ’s form their website:

  1. How will you ensure that wheelchairs are sanitised knowing many people will be touching them?  Wheelchairs will be sanitised after every use
  2. Will Passenger Aid Unit assistance be wearing Personal Protective Equipment’s when assisting passengers?  All staff members will wear Personal Protective Equipment when assisting passengers.
  3. How will the airlines ensure that seats are deep cleaned after every flight?  Please kindly refer to your respective airline for more information on sanitation and hygiene within the aircraft.
  4. Are IDs and driver’s licenses safe from contamination considering the number of people touching them at the airport? Passengers are encouraged to use online check-in to minimise touching of personal identity documents. Security will also request that passengers scan their boarding cards.
  5. Will baggage handlers wear full Personal Protective Equipment because they could pass the virus from one bag to another?  All baggage handlers will wear full Personal Protective Equipment when assisting passengers and handling baggage.
  6. How safe is luggage from contamination during loading and offloading?  Airports Company South Africa adheres to the strictest health and safety protocols. All baggage will be fully sanitised and baggage handlers will wear complete Personal Protective Equipment. Bags must be  wrapped as an additional safety measure.
  7. How frequently are high touch areas and bathrooms sanitized?   The bathrooms and high touch areas will be sanitised in accordance with the public health procedure as  approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority.
  8. Will trolleys be sanitized and how frequently?  Yes, after every use. As an extra safety precaution, we recommend passengers also sanitize their hands    before using a trolley.
  9. What will you do to people who do not observe airport rules?  They will not be permitted in the terminal building or they will be escorted off the premises by airport   security.
  10. Will there be isolation facilities available for people who show symptoms or who present a temperature of 38 and higher? There will be secondary screening and isolation facilities available for those with temperature higher than 37.2 degrees.
  11. How will social distancing be enforced in airports?  Social distancing signage is up in the terminal building, and Covid-19 monitors will ensure that guidelines are enforced.
  12. Will masks be available to passengers who don’t have and will you have a shop selling masks?  Passengers must have a mask to be permitted inside the terminal building. Masks will also be sold at   vending machines within the airport building
  13. Where will hand sanitisers be placed at the airports? Hand sanitisers have been made available at strategic passenger journey touchpoints throughout the terminals. Soap is also provided in all bathroom facilities. Hand sanitizers have been made available throughout the entire terminal building.
  14. Can South Africans travel to high-risk countries?  South African citizens who wish to travel to high-risk countries must check with the country if their borders are open and requirements of travel. Please note that South African residents who want to   travel to high-risk countries should contact the Department of Home Affairs for clarity.  Contact centre: 0800 60 11 90 // Facebook: @HomeAffairsZA // Twitter: @HomeAffairsSA //   Email: // Website:
  15. What are the rules inside the aircraft cabin?  Passengers must confirm with the airline directly.
  16. What Personal Protective Equipment should staff wear? Do they change the Personal Protective Equipment during a shift?  ACSA has developed a Personal Protective Equipment guideline that is complaint with local legislation as well as WHO guidelines for Ports Of Entry.  We have also done extensive studies on the quality     grades of Personal Protective Equipment that best suits our environment.  The guideline prescribes Personal Protective Equipment based on the nature of work as well as the occupational exposure. All  staff change their Personal Protective Equipment during the shift (eg. after tea break).  This is because           the general assumption is that Personal Protective Equipment will be contaminated and exhibits a high  risk to someone that will want to reuse them. ACSA does provide such Personal Protective Equipment    to staff at no cost.
  17. What training has staff been given on the new procedures?  All staff have been given compulsory Back To Work occupational health and Safety training on COVID-
  18. What will Airports Company South Africa do if a person who works at the airport becomes infected with Covid-19?  We will activate our Occupational Health and Safety staff response plan. Any staff member who is  suspected to be ill will be placed in isolation. The Department of Health will be informed, and the               employee will be attended to.
  19. We have bought tickets, what will happen to them if the airport doesn’t open?  Please ensure that all ticket enquiries are taken up with the respective airline.
  20. How many hours before departure must a passenger be at the airport?  Passengers must be at the airport at least ninety minutes for domestic flights.  International travel: Passengers must be at the airport at least four hours for domestic flights to ensure  enough time is allocated for screening and operational procedures.
  21. What have you done to make airports safer?   Airports Company South Africa has recruited additional staff and implemented strict health compliance protocol, including social distancing, temperature screening all passengers and staff, regular deep cleaning, and surface sanitizing of the airports. We have equipped all staff with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment and sanitizers.
  22. What happens if the traveller is unable to afford a COVID-19 test or quarantine?  Please contact the Department of Health for clarity. Whatsapp: 0600 123 //            Website:

National Institute for Communicable diseases:

World Health organisation:

South Africa Corona Virus Website