South Africa

Customs regulations

Import regulations:

Free import of:

  • 200 cigarettes and 20 cigars and 250 grams of tobacco ;
  • 2 bottles (2 liters) of wine and 1 bottle (1 liter) of spirits or liquor ;
  • 50 milliliters of perfume and 250 milliliters of eau de toilette per person;
  • other goods up to a value of ZAR 5,000.- per person. Goods imported from from Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho and Namibia, up to a value of ZAR 25,000.- per person, are exempt from VAT;
  • 25 kilograms of handmade articles for commercial purposes, made of glass, plastic, leather, stone or wood, for travelers arriving from Angola, Botswana, Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Allowances will only be granted once per person in any 30 day period, after an absence of 48 hours or more from South Africa.
Residents of South Africa must hold any TRD 1 and NEP forms accompanying any reimported goods.

Tobacco products and alcoholic beverages limited to those of 18 years and older.

Tobacco products and alcoholic beverages limited to those of 18 years and older.

Plants and plant material: import permit is required for a.o. seeds, flowers, fruit, honey, margarine and vegetable oils.
Prohibited: restrictions apply and declaration upon arrival is required for meat, processed meat, cheese and other dairy products. An import permit from the Director of Veterinary Services is required prior to the importation of the above. All medication, except for personal use, is subject to an import permit. Narcotic drugs are prohibited. Also prohibited are flick knives, explosives and pornography containing minors and bestiality.

Arms and Ammunition regulations:

Must be packed separately in a locked firearm case, with all ammunition removed from the firearm. They should also not be packed with clothing. Furthermore:

  • Nationals and residents of South Africa require a RSA firearm license.
  • Visitors require a temporary import permit, which will only be issued for foreign hunters and participants in an organized sport shooting event. Temporary import permit can be obtained:
    – by applying at least 21 days prior to arrival with the Central Firearms Control Register, Private Bag X811, Pretoria 0001, South Africa; or
    – by applying on arrival.
    Please consult for application form (SAPS 520) and full information including supplementary documentation that must accompany the application.

Export regulations:

Residents of South Africa can register valuables with Customs prior to departure by completing a TC-01 and TRD 1 forms. The TRD 1 form should be retained and shown upon return in South Africa. Goods to be brought back valued at more than ZAR 50,000.- require an NEP form obtainable for a bank.

Free export of household consumables (foodstuff, cleaning materials, etc.) up to a value of ZAR 5,000.-.

Crew members customs regulations:

Crew are not entitled to import alcoholic beverages, tobacco products or perfumes but are entitled to an allowance of ZAR 700.- for other goods.


All animals and animal products must be transported as manifested cargo under Air Waybill, also in case of transit if transshipment is involved.
A veterinary import/in transit permit must be obtained from the Director Veterinary Services, Private Bag X138, Pretoria prior to dispatch of the pet, and must be valid on the date of entry into South Africa and all required documents must accompany the shipment.
Pets need to have microchip implants, readable by an ISO 11784 or ISO 11785 scanner, for identification. In addition, a veterinary health certificate is required stating that the dog/cat:

  • comes from an area with a radius of 25 km. free from rabies for 6 months prior to export of the pet;
  • was vaccinated against rabies not more than 12 months and, in the case of primary vaccination, not less than 30 days before arrival.

Quarantine measures apply to dogs coming from certain countries.

The following dogs are permitted in the cabin with a dispensation from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries:

  • seeing eye dogs if accompanying a blind person; and
  • Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals (ESAN/SVAN). These dogs must be accompanied by a special letter from a licensed mental health professional.

Emotional Support Animals must manifest as cargo on arrival. Guide dogs will be inspected at the passenger terminals and must, together with the owner, be escorted by airline staff until inspections are completed.

The transporting carrier must be notified at least 48 hours prior to departure to South Africa.

For more information contact the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries in South Africa. Tel: 27 12 3197514. Email: [email protected].

Baggage Clearance regulations:

Baggage is cleared at the first airport of entry in South Africa. In case of connecting on a domestic flight, baggage can be labeled to the final destination but clearance must be done at the first airport of entry.

Exempt: baggage of transit passengers with destination outside South Africa if the passengers do not leave the transit area.


Currency Import regulations:

Allowed :
Residents and non-residents: local currency (South African Rand-ZAR): ZAR 25,000.-; foreign currencies and traveler’s cheques: unlimited, if amounts over USD 10,000.- are declared upon arrival. Kruger coins will only be accepted with prior approval of the South African Reserve Bank.

No limit for travel between South Africa and Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho and Namibia, as these countries belong to the same common monetary area.

Currency Export regulations:

Residents : Local currency (South African Rand-ZAR): ZAR 25,000.-. A single discretionary allowance of ZAR 1,000,000.- per calendar year for those aged 18 years (ZAR 200,000.- for those aged under 18) may be permitted when arranged through an authorized dealer; foreign currencies: up to the value of ZAR 160,000.- per adult and ZAR 50,000.- per child (aged under 12 years) per calendar year. Prior clearance from an authorized dealer is required. Amounts reduce to ZAR 25,000.- per person if prior clearance has not been obtained. Kruger coins will only be accepted with prior approval of the South African Reserve Bank.

Non-residents: local currency: ZAR 25,000.-; foreign currencies and traveler’s cheques: up to the amounts imported and declared. Up to 15 Kruger coins can be exported, if the visitor can prove that they were acquired with imported foreign currency.

No limit for travel between South Africa and Eswatini (Swaziland), Lesotho and Namibia, as these countries belong to the same common monetary area.

Airport Tax

No airport tax is levied on passengers upon embarkation from the airport.

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  • Traveller information

The basics

South Africa reopened to travelers at the end of 2020, and the country relaxed its stringent day-to-day restrictions on February 28. However, it’s not all good news. The South African variant of Covid-19 is thought to transmit more quickly, and vaccines are potentially less effective against it. That means many countries have imposed flight restrictions.

What’s on offer

Breathtaking coastline, buzzing cities, wine country and, of course, the Big Five — South Africa is a real bucket list destination. Most tourists pair a safari — the 7,523 square mile Kruger National Park, in the northeast of the country, is one of the largest game reserves in Africa — with a city break in coastal Cape Town. But there’s so much more on offer: sprawling, tree-lined Johannesburg is one of the largest man-made forests in the world; beachside Durban, home to much of South Africa’s Indian population, is one of the world’s best places for a curry; and other natural paradises are all over the country, including iSimangaliso Wetland Park, whose Zulu name, “something wondrous,” is the perfect description. And of course there’s Soweto, the township outside Johannesburg, whose museums bring the horrors of Apartheid home and whose restaurants are some of the best in the city.

Who can go

Anyone can visit, subject to usual visa regulations. There are strict protocols to follow — see below.

What are the restrictions?

All travelers must complete a screening form within 48 hours of their trip to produce on their device at the airport. On arrival, they must present a paper copy of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. It must be signed by the person who took the test. You should take several copies, in case you have to hand them over at different stages. Those arriving without a test are subject to quarantine at their own expense.

Screening is ongoing at all points of entry.

Transits are also allowed, though again you must present the same negative PCR test.

Business travelers going between South Africa and the Southern African Development Community of 15 other states in Southern Africa must also produce the same negative PCR test, but are allowed multiple entries over 14 days.

Of South Africa’s land borders, 33 are closed, 20 are open, including Beitbridge, Lembombo and Ficksburg.

What’s the Covid situation?

South Africa has seen 1.56 million infections and nearly 53,500 deaths, as of April 15.

Although that’s not by any means the highest death or infection rate, the South African variant of the disease appears to spread more easily. There are also concerns that vaccines might be slightly less effective against it — although it’s thought they still offer protection against severe disease.

Countries across the world swiftly moved to ban flights when the variant was discovered.

Daily reported Covid-19 cases

What can visitors expect?

On February 28, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the easing of restrictions from level 3 to level 1. That means there is a reduced curfew in place, from midnight to 4 a.m. (previously it started at 11 p.m.) No alcohol can be sold during those hours, and restaurants generally chose one hour earlier to allow staff and clients to get home before curfew. Extra restrictions were imposed over Easter.

Gatherings are now permitted — the maximum number of participants is 100 indoors and 250 outdoors.

Mask wearing is compulsory on public transport and inside public buildings, and fines are issued for those not complying.

South Africa’s world-famous beaches have had closures imposed during previous lockdowns, but are currently open.

Useful links

Health screening form

South Africa Tourism Covid-19 update.

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