Travel Tips for South Africa

Visa Requirements- These include:

  1. A passport valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of the intended visit, and at least 1 unused page for entry/departure endorsements (sometimes referred to as the visa page).
  2. Payment of the prescribed fee, if applicable.
  3. A vaccination certificate, if required (travel through the yellow fever belts of Africa and South America requires inoculation)
  4. Statement and/or documentation confirming the purpose and duration of your visit.
  5. Two identity photographs (guidelines on website).
  6. Proof of financial means in the form of bank statements; salary advices; undertakings by your hosts in South Africa; bursaries; medical cover; or cash available, including credit cards or travellers’ cheques.
  7. If travelling by air, a return or onward ticket; or proof of sufficient funds; or a cash deposit of equivalent value to an air ticket must be lodged. Take care to request the correct duration of stay and type of visa.  Also check on processing time so that there is no last-minute panic.

Getting Around– An extensive tarred road system makes travelling in South Africa by vehicle convenient and easy. You will find gravel roads in rural areas though.  Note:

  • A valid international driver’s license is required.
  • We drive on the left hand side of the road.
  • Wearing seat belts is compulsory and cellphones can only be used ‘hands free’.
  • Speed limits are generally set at 120km on freeways, 100km on secondary roads and 60km in urban areas.
  • Toll fees apply on certain national roads.
  • Petrol stations are widespread.
  • Most global car hire firms have branches in South Africa, along with local concerns.
  • The Automobile Association (AA) supplies road maps.

Another means of getting around South Africa are luxury inter-city bus services such as Greyhound and Trans-Lux, as well as the backpackers’ Baz Bus.  Metrobus buses are available for in-city transport.  Metered taxis must be ordered by telephone. There is a hop-on-hop-off bus in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

South African Money-

  • The rand is divided into 100 cents
  • Coins come in denominations of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5
  • Notes come in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200
  • Travellers’ cheques can be exchanged in banks, bureaux de changes and some hotels. It is suggested you bring them in hard currencies.
  • Money can also be withdrawn at automated teller machines (ATM) of which there are many countrywide.
  • South Africa’s main banks are Absa Bank, First National Bank, Nedbank, Standard Bank and Capitec
  • Banking hours are generally 09h00-15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 – 11h00 on Saturdays.
  • All major credit cards are accepted in the country, particularly MasterCard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club.

Most retail purchases carry a VAT levy of 14%, which is refunded to foreign tourists at departure points, subject to stipulated amounts spent, completion of the necessary forms, and presentation of original tax invoices.

Safety Precautions-

Safety precautions you may want to consider include:

  • Locking valuables and luggage away in the car boot while traveling (never leave handbags or cameras on car seats)
  • Being vigilant of your luggage and other belongings (never leave them unattended).
  • Storing valuables in your hotel safe.
  • Limit the amount of money you carry on your person. Also, don’t accept offers of assistance at ATMs and keep your pin numbers secure.
  • When using a credit card in restaurants, ask the waiter to bring a portable credit card machine to your table.  Report stolen or lost cards immediately.
  • Carry a current road map with you. If you’re in any doubt about a place you wish to visit or how to get there, have a word with your hotel concierge first or contact the National Tourism Information and Safety Line on 083 123 2345 for assistance.
  • Only use reputable tour operators and travel and transport services. If you’re not sure, ask your hotel to recommend a service provider for you.
  • In rural areas, watch out for wild or farm animals – road signage will warn you when you need to take care.
  • If you intend traveling to malaria areas, take the necessary prophylaxis before you leave home.

South African Customs regulations afford visitors to the country the opportunity to bring in certain goods without incurring duties and value added tax (VAT).  These are limited in quantity and value. On arrival, you can take the green ‘nothing to declare’ channel if you stick to these allowances:

  • Personal effects
  • New or used goods not exceeding R3 000 (additional goods, new or used, exceeding R12 000 will incur a duty charge of 20%)
  • Wine not exceeding 2 litres per person over the age of 18
  • Spirits and alcohol not exceeding l litre per person over the age of 18
  • Cigarettes not exceeding 200 units and cigars not exceeding 20 units per person over the age of 18
  • 250g cigarette tobacco or pipe tobacco per person over the age of 18
  • Perfume not exceeding 50ml and eau de toilette not exceeding 250ml per person

If you have goods in excess of these allowances, take the red channel and declare your items. Here you will be billed at the applicable rates by representatives of South African Customs. If you are importing for business and commercial intent, you will not qualify for these allowances, other than that relating to personal effects.

Customs in South Africa further stipulates that individual travellers are entitled to a duty-free allowance of R5 000 per person, where no duties or VAT apply. These allowances may not be pooled and only apply on a per person basis.

 

*** Please note everything is correct at time of release. Always check with your travel agent or an official tourism guide to make sure you have everything you need.