FAQs & Travel Tips
TIME DIFFERENCES — South Africa operates two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time throughout the year making it an hour ahead of central European winter time, seven hours ahead of Eastern standard winter time and seven hours behind Australian central time.
PASSPORTS & VISAS — For the majority of foreign nationals who travel to South Africa, entry is straightforward and hassle free. All visitors to South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport, in order to enter the country, and in some cases, a visa. To determine whether you require a visa to enter South Africa, visit the comprehensive South African Home Affairs Department website.
For South African missions abroad, visit website.
NEW REGULATIONS FOR CHILDREN TRAVELLING TO AND FROM SOUTH AFRICA — With effect 01 October 2014, South Africans’ must comply with new regulations relating to children who travel to and from South Africa. These new regulations were promulgated in terms of the South African Immigration Amendment Act of 2010 and define children as persons under the age of 18.
In terms of the new regulations, when parents are travelling with a child they need to produce an unabridged birth certificate that shows the names of both parents. In cases where the certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.
When a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent. The affidavit should be no more than three months old, from date of travel.
In the case of a child travelling with a person other than a parent, the unabridged birth certificate must be supplemented by affidavits from the parents or legal guardians confirming that the child may travel with that person, copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian.
Similarly, a child travelling as an unaccompanied minor would have to produce not only the unabridged birth certificate, but also proof of consent from both parents, or legal guardian and contact details, plus documentation relating to the person receiving the child in the Republic. The latter documentation should include a letter stating the person’s contact details and residential address and contact details where the child will be residing, plus a copy of his or her identity document, passport or residence permit.
All documents must either be original or certified as true copies of the original, by a competent authority. Documents not in English must be accompanied by a sworn translation.
For more information also visit the Department of Home Affairs South Africa website.
For customers resident in the UK you can also request further information by contacting the South African High Commission
Tel: +44 20 7839 5198
Or in person at South Africa House.
Details for the South African Consulator information can be found at the following website.
BANKS & MONEY — The currency unit is the Rand, denoted by the symbol R, with 100 cents making up R1 (one Rand). Foreign currency can be exchanged at local banks, and Bureau de Changes. Most major international credit cards such as American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa, and their affiliates are widely accepted.
TIPPING — Most restaurants do not add a service charge to bills – thus it is customary to leave a 10-15% tip. Parking and petrol station attendants can be given whatever small change you have available. This is always appreciated, even though it may seem a small amount.
TAX — Value added tax (VAT) is charged on most items. Foreign tourists to South African can have their 14% VAT refunded, provided that the value of the items purchased exceeds R250-00. VAT is refunded at the point of departure, provided receipts are produced.
ELECTRICITY — South Africa’s electricity supply: 220/230 volts AC 50 Hz. Exceptions: Pretoria (230 V) and Port Elizabeth (200 / 250 V). Most plugs have three round pins but some plugs with two smaller pins are also found on appliances. Adaptors can be purchased, but may be in short supply. US-made appliances may need a transformer.
HEALTH & SAFETY — Many foreigners are unaware that South Africa has a well-developed infrastructure, high standard of water treatment and medical facilities equal to the best in the world. Here we address any health and safety questions you may have.
HOSPITALS & MEDICAL CARE — In a great many medical disciplines, South Africa is a global leader. In fact South African trained doctors are sought after all over the world, so this should give an indication of the standard of medical care available. There is a large network of public and private hospitals countrywide, offering excellent service. However clients must have adequate health insurance to cover the fees private hospitals charge.
PERSONAL SAFETY — South Africa boasts a vast array of cultures, communities, sites and attractions. Most parts of the country can be safely visited by tourists, provided they take basic common sense precautions, for example not walking alone in deserted areas at night and being circumspect about how much photographic equipment or flashy jewellery you carry. Most major cities run organised crime prevention programs. Basic safety tip guidelines will be available at hotels and tourism information offices.
If you are in doubt as to the safety of a particular area or attraction, contact the National Tourism Information and Safety line on+27 (0) 83-123-2345. The number may also be used for practical assistance in replacing lost documents or reporting incidents.
FOOD & WATER — As a rule, tap water in South Africa is safe to drink, as it is treated and is free of harmful micro-organisms. In hotels, restaurants and nightspots, the standards of hygiene and food preparation are top notch. It is safe to eat fresh fruit and salads and to put as much ice as you like in your drinks – a good thing too after a day on the beach or in the bush.
ROAD SAFETY — Our transport infrastructure is excellent, and our roads are in good condition. However the distances between towns are significant, so if you are planning to self drive it is a good idea to plan your itinerary to ensure you don’t drive long distances, as fatigue is a major cause of road accidents. Avoid long car journeys that necessitate driving at night, as it always carries more risk. Also in some of the more remote rural areas, the roads are not fenced so there may be stray animals on the road, which could be very dangerous at night.
We have very strict drinking and driving laws, with a maximum allowable alcohol blood content of 0.05%. Translated that means about one glass of wine for the average woman, and perhaps 1.5 or 2 for the average or larger man.
Our speed limits are 120 kmph on the open road, 100 kmph on smaller roads and between 60 and 80 kmph in towns. Be aware that even major national roads cut through residential areas, so there may be a speed limit of 80 or 60 kmph on a road that looks like an autobahn/motorway. This is to protect pedestrians, especially children, so we really do encourage people to comply.
DRIVING — All visitors intending to drive are required to obtain an international drivers permit. Visitors found driving without a permit will be fined and not permitted to continue on their journey. Visitors will also not be able to rent a car without a valid drivers permit. The wearing of seat belts is compulsory, and strictly enforced by law.
VACCINATIONS — Visitors who are entering South Africa from a yellow fever zone must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate.
SHOPPING — Most major shopping centres and malls operate seven days a week, but you will find that in smaller towns and rural areas that shops are closed on Sundays. Monday – Saturday: 09h00 – 17h00 | Sundays: 09h00 – 14h00