Advice for South African Citizens Travelling Abroad

Be prepared

Learn at least a few key phrases in the host country’s language. Even a modest command of the local language will go a long way. When travelling abroad the laws of the foreign country apply to everybody.

South Africans are encouraged to have the contact details of the nearest South African Representative office and to carry contact details of their next of kin at all times.

Do you have your passport?

A combination of your South African passport and RSA identity document are the best proof of your South African citizenship. Anyone who intends travelling abroad should have a valid passport. If you do not have a passport, apply for it well in advance. Temporary passports can be issued on short notice but they are not accepted by all foreign countries. If your passport is damaged in any way it is advisable to replace it before travelling.

Passport application forms are available at all regional offices of the Department of Home Affairs countrywide and at South African Representative abroad.

What happens if your passport is stolen/lost while abroad?

If your passport is lost or stolen while you are travelling abroad, report the loss/theft immediately to the local law enforcement agency (e.g. police station). Take a copy of the police report to the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate-General where you will apply for an emergency travel document.

Please note that passport applications are forwarded to the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa for processing and issuance of new passports. The waiting period to receive a new passport abroad can be several months. In emergency situations the South African Diplomatic or Consular Mission is in a position to issue you with an Emergency Travel Certificate, which will allow you only to travel directly back to South Africa.


A visa or permit is your permission to travel to, transit or remain in a foreign country. A visa or permit does not, however, guarantee entry into the foreign country, as the decision to grant entry remains the decision of the immigration officials of the foreign country.
South African passport holders enjoy visa exemptions for certain countries. This means that South Africans can travel, usually for holiday or business purposes, to these countries without a visa for a pre-determined time.
If you do not correctly comply with visa or permit requirements or overstay on your visa or permit you will be subject to any or all of the following: criminal prosecution, imprisonment, deportation and/or being blacklisted.

Travel Insurance

It is strongly recommended that you take out travel insurance before travelling abroad. Travel insurance should cover hospitalisation and related medical costs as well as a possible emergency evacuation. Depending on your age, physical condition and destination you should consider provision in the event of death. Your travel agent or bank will be able to advise you.
Medical costs abroad can be astronomical compared to South Africa. In some instances, medical treatment can be withheld by the foreign country if a person has no proof of funds or travel insurance.

Travel insurance that cover expenses in the event of death abroad will ensure that family and friends are not burdened with the costs for the preparation and transportation of mortal remains to South Africa. Remember to confirm the details of your coverage with your insurer as pre-existing medical conditions may require additional cover.

It is important to cover all the members of the travelling party adequately.