Fire and rescue services
Call 10111, or go to the nearest police station.
More than 80,000 Australians visit South Africa each year. Most visits are trouble-free. We set out below some information to help you prepare for your trip and stay safe. *source: Australian Bureau of Statistics, OAD rankings year ended Dec 2018
Full travel advice: Safety
Full travel advice: Health
Full travel advice: Local laws
Full travel advice: Travel
Crime and violence are serious issues in South Africa.
Crime rates in South Africa are significantly higher than in Australia.
Police in South Africa deal with a high volume of aggravated crime. Their resources are stretched. You may not get the level of service you would in Australia, especially for less serious crimes such as theft and fraud.
The South African Police Service doesn't have a 'Tourist Police' force. Criminals have posed as 'Tourist Police' to extort and rob tourists. This includes stopping tourist buses to check proof of identity and search luggage.
Crime in and around airports can occur.
Criminals have robbed arriving passengers, following them from the airport to:
Theft from luggage also occurs. To avoid this, don't place valuables in checked-in luggage.
Crime in South Africa includes:
Robberies involving violence can occur at shopping centres .Be alert at all times.
Assaults and robberies on local commuter and metro trains happen:
Theft from hotel rooms and guest homes does happen, including within game parks.
Criminals have stolen bags and backpacks from public places including restaurants and bars. Be alert in all public places.
To avoid theft:
Crime rates are significantly higher after dark.
To protect yourself against crime, avoid travelling to:
Thieves posing as vendors or beggars target cars:
‘Smash and grab’ thefts from vehicles are common, particularly:
Criminals also place debris on roads to stop vehicles. Don't stop to clear debris.
To prevent theft when travelling by car:
Criminals have attacked hikers in South Africa.
To prevent attacks when hiking:
ATMs in major cities are common. ATMs in rural areas are more rare.
ATM and credit card fraud is common. Criminals use skimming devices to copy your card details onto a blank card.
Criminals wait near ATMs and rob people withdrawing cash.
To protect yourself against cash and credit card crime:
Don't use ATMs that open onto the street. Only use ATMs in controlled areas, such as:
Scams are common.
Don't be fooled by scams. If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.
If you're a victim of scam, don't travel to South Africa to try and get your money back. The risk of assault is too high.
Fake internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes operate from some African countries. These typically take place on internet dating sites or chat rooms.
Someone you meet online may ask you to send money so they can travel to Australia to visit you. As soon as the scammer receives the money, they end their relationship with you.
Some may ask you to travel to Africa to meet them. When you arrive in Africa they may kidnap, assault or rob you.
Report fraud and scams to the Commercial Crimes Unit of the South African Police Service in Johannesburg on +27 (11) 970 5300.
Public protests and demonstrations can turn violent.
Avoid taking photographs or video footage of demonstrations and protests.
There have been reports of protesters damaging property belonging to bystanders.
Terrorism is a threat worldwide.
Attacks can be random. Terrorist targets could include places visited by travellers such as shopping centres.
Respect local wildlife laws. Maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife.
Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators.
Follow park rules and the advice of wardens.
Be cautious about swimming in lakes and rivers due to the risk of wildlife attacks or waterborne disease.
Get comprehensive travel insurance before you leave. Your policy needs to cover all overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. The Australian Government won’t pay for these costs.
If you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. This applies to everyone, no matter how healthy and fit you are.
If you're not insured, you may have to pay many 1000s of dollars up-front for medical care.
Consider your physical and mental health before you travel, especially if you have an existing medical condition.
See your doctor or travel clinic to:
Do this at least 8 weeks before you leave.
Not all medication available over the counter or by prescription in Australia is available in other countries. Some may even be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.
If you bring restricted medication or don't have the right documents you could:
This includes countries where you don't leave the airport.
If you intend to bring medicine, check if:
If your medication is illegal in South Africa, ask your doctor in Australia about alternatives.
Take enough legal medicine so you remain in good health on your trip.
Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor stating:
If you are travelling from a country where yellow fever is widespread you'll need a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter South Africa. This does not apply to a child aged under 1 year.
If you can't show proof of vaccination, authorities may not let you enter.
You can't get vaccinated when you arrive.
The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa is very high.
Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to the virus.
Victims of violent crime, especially rape, should seek immediate medical help.
Malaria is common in South Africa, especially in:
The 90km area along the border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe is a designated malaria risk zone. Some areas nearby may have a malaria risk during the year.
Other insect-borne diseases, including filariasis, are also prevalent.
To protect yourself from disease:
Take medicine to prevent malaria if travelling to an area where it's common.
Cholera mainly occurs in rural areas. More serious outbreaks can happen from time to time.
To protect yourself against cholera:
Tap water in major cities is generally safe to drink.
Waterborne, foodborne and other infectious diseases are prevalent.
Serious outbreaks sometimes occur.
To protect yourself from illness:
If you're bitten or scratched by an animal, get medical help straight away.
Seek medical advice if you have a fever or diarrhoea.
The standard of medical facilities in South Africa varies.
Public medical facilities are generally low standard compared with Australia. Private hospitals are often better equipped.
Many regional hospitals only provide basic facilities.
There's no shared healthcare agreement between Australia and South Africa.
Before admitting you, hospitals usually ask for:
In remote areas, air evacuation to a major city is sometimes the only option in an emergency. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.
Decompression chambers are located at:
You're subject to all local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling.
If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
If you're detained or arrested, you need to ask officials to tell the Australian High Commission in Pretoria.
Penalties for drug offences are severe and include long prison sentences.
Some Australian criminal laws still apply when you’re overseas. If you break these laws, you may face prosecution in Australia.
If you're an Australian-South African dual national, you can’t enter or exit South Africa on an Australian passport.
If you try, you may be:
If you're unsure if you will be treated as a South African dual national, check with:
Every country or territory decides who can enter or exit through its borders.
Make sure you meet all entry and exit conditions. If you don't, the Australian Government can’t help you.
You don't need a visa if you're visiting South Africa for tourism purposes for up to 90 days. In other cases, you'll need a visa.
Leaving and re-entering South Africa won't automatically give you another 90 days.
Check South Africa's immigration rules about:
Children travelling on a valid passport with one or both parents are no longer required to present a birth certificate, parental consent letter and other supporting documentation. There is still a requirement for other situations, such as unaccompanied minors travelling (under the age of 18) or legal guardianship.
To check the requirements for other situations, such as legal guardianship or unaccompanied travelling minors, visit the South African Department of Home Affairs.
Some countries won’t let you enter unless your passport is valid for 6 months after you plan to leave that country. This can apply even if you’re just transiting or stopping over.
Some foreign governments and airlines apply the rule inconsistently. Travellers can receive conflicting advice from different sources.
You can end up stranded if your passport is not valid for more than 6 months.
The Australian Government does not set these rules. Check your passport’s expiry date before you travel. If you’re not sure it’ll be valid for long enough, consider getting a new passport.
Your passport must have at least 2 completely blank pages to endorse your entry permit on.
If your passport doesn't comply with these requirements, authorities may stop you from boarding.
Your passport is a valuable document. It's attractive to people who may try to use your identity to commit crimes.
Some people may try to trick you into giving them your passport. Always keep it in a safe place.
If your passport is lost or stolen, tell the Australian Government as soon as possible:
Carry copies of a recent passport photo with you. You may need to replace your passport while you're overseas.
There are limits to how much money you can bring into South Africa. Foreign nationals can enter with a maximum of either:
You may have to declare the amount of money you're carrying when you arrive or leave.
Rolling blackouts can happen in parts of South Africa.
Avoid using minibus taxis. Ask your accommodation host or tour guide for advice about using public transport.
Book local transport through a reputable provider.
Tensions between metered taxi and rideshare drivers can escalate to violence.
Avoid catching a rideshare service that is close to a metered taxi.
To drive in South Africa you must:
Driving without the correct licence can affect your insurance.
If you move to South Africa, you can swap your Australian driver's licence for a South African licence. You must do so within the first 12 months of your residency.
If you're going to ride a motorcycle, check whether your travel insurance policy covers you. Always wear a helmet.
Use extreme caution on roads.
Road conditions are generally good but can vary, especially in rural areas.
Hazards in urban and rural areas include:
You're 4 times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in South Africa than in Australia.
DFAT doesn't provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths.
Check South Africa's air safety profile with the Aviation Safety Network.
Depending on what you need, contact your:
Call 10111, or go to the nearest police station.
Always get a police report when you report a crime.
Your insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number
Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.
292 Orient Street
Pretoria, South Africa
Phone: (+27 12) 423 6000
Fax: (+27 12) 342 8442
Facebook: Australian High Commission in South Africa
Check the High Commission website for details about opening hours and any temporary closures.
In a consular emergency, if you can't contact an embassy, call the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on:
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