Travelling Southern Africa
All visitors require a valid passport for entry into South Africa. On arrival, your passport will be date-stamped to authorise a stay of up to 90 days providing you can produce a return ticket or proof that you have enough money to pay for one.
For visits of up to three months, holders of European Union, United States, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and Japanese passports are exempt from visa requirements. Citizens of neighbouring Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland need not apply for visas if their visit does not exceed 14 days. Entry formalities are revised from time to time; check with your travel agent or the South African diplomatic mission in your country.
Visitors from all other countries are advised to contact the appropriate diplomatic or consular representative before finalising travel arrangements.
Visas are not issued at South African airports and other entry points. Swaziland and Lesotho border facilities, however, tend to be more flexible.
Transit visas are issued to travellers passing through South Africa to or from neighbouring countries. For these, applicants must be able to produce a return ticket and visa (if relevant) or other documentary proof of destination.
Similarly, you will need a multi-entry visa if you intend combining your trip to South Africa with visits to other Southern African countries (Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique).
Visa extensions can be obtained from the Department of Home Affairs, Private Bag X14, Pretoria 0001, telephone (012) 314 8911, fax (012) 314 8516, or from the various regional offices (contact numbers are listed in local telephone directories).
Visitors from or passing through a place or port within a yellow fever zone will need to produce a valid certificate of vaccination. The zone extends through much of tropical Africa and South America (Brazil is currently regarded as a risk area). However, you won't need such a certificate if you are a simply transit passenger and do not leave the transit airport.
If you intend visiting the Mpumalanga Lowveld (which encompasses the Kruger National Park) or northern KwaZulu-Natal and Zululand, take a course of anti-malaria tablets before departure.
Personal effects (but not unopened packages) are admitted duty free. You are also allowed to bring in limited quantities - R500 worth at the time of writing - of duty-free spirits, wine, perfume and tobacco products. Further items up to the value of R10,000 may be brought in at a flat-rate 20 percent duty plus VAT (currently 14 percent). Everything else except motor vehicles (see Arrival by Road) is subject to standard duty.
The importation of illegal drugs is a serious offence. Firearms control is strict; permits are required; Customs officers will advise you.
South Africa is well served by international airline companies. South African Airways, the national carrier, operates a fleet of Boeing 747 and Airbus airliners over a network that spans much of the globe.
The main points of entry and exit are Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town International Airports. Johannesburg Airport also serves Pretoria. Daily flights link these entry points with major Southern African centres.
Passenger facilities at these three international airports include banks, currency exchange, post office, telephone, fax and e-mail services, duty-free and other shops, restaurants, snack and cocktail bars, car-hire, taxis, and buses to and from town. The major hotels provide courtesy transport.
South Africa is bordered by Zimbabwe and Botswana in the north, Namibia in the north-west and by Mozambique and Swaziland in the north-east. There are numerous crossing points; most travellers enter through Beitbridge, a small Zimbabwean town close to the Limpopo River, on both sides of which there are customs and immigration posts. The roads from Harare and Bulawayo converge here to become, in South Africa, the N1 national highway leading to Pretoria and Johannesburg. The N1 continues southwards, through the Free State and the Great Karoo, to Cape Town.
Opening times of the border posts vary according to local requirements. Check with your travel agent or the Automobile Association.
Travellers intending to bring their own vehicles into the Common Customs Area that embraces South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique must obtain the necessary documents - a triptyque (or carnet) authorising temporary importation - from the Automobile Association, or other recognised motoring organisation, in their country of origin.
Several shipping lines offer a limited number of passenger berths on cargo vessels plying between northern hemisphere and Southern African ports. Fares vary - understandably so, since one is effectively paying for a cruise as well as transport. The main points of entry are Durban and Cape Town. Cruise ships also call at South African ports.
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