Your 8-point checklist before travelling abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic

Travelling out of South Africa this COVID-affected festive season? Here's an here's an 8 -point checklist from DIRCO before you make your move.

Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor on Monday cautioned South Africans travelling to countries with high COVID-19 infection rates to consider postponing their trips this festive season.

The minister said through a departmental press briefing in the morning that 30,000 South Africans were repatriated from March to the time that travel restrictions were completely lifted. Many travellers found themselves in distress during the pandemic and stranded in other countries.

While the department cannot stop anyone from travelling to countries currently in a second wave of COVID-19 infections this festive season, it has compiled a list of things that travellers should consider before boarding an international flight.

"This experience has made us realise the importance of making sure that we equip all South Africans who intend travelling abroad during this season with information that might help them not to find themselves needing to be repatriated because they are stranded," said Pandor at a briefing in Pretoria.

Here is what you should know if you are travelling abroad, besides the usual guidelines:

BE CAUTIOUS / RECONSIDER: Countries in the northern hemisphere are encountering a second wave of the pandemic. South Africans must be cautious travelling to these countries as one might become distressed or even destitute abroad. Depending on the level of lockdown in the respective countries, there is a likelihood of international flights being cancelled at short notice. Read up thoroughly on the country you intend visiting as the global situation is unstable. If the country you choose is a high risk one, consider postponing your visit or proceed with caution if travel in unavoidable.

TRAVEL IS AT OWN RISK: When you travel to these countries you travel at your own risk, knowing the current circumstances and the uncertainty associated with it. Please ensure that you are familiar with the immigration and health entry requirements of that country, as well as South Africa's health entry requirements during the pandemic.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: If you have any uncertainty regarding the health entry requirements of the country you would be visiting, then contact their embassy in South Africa for assistance. If you need any clarity on the health entry requirement on your return to South Africa, you can consult the Department of Health’s website.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: Ensure you have adequate travel insurance. Many South Africans had no or inadequate travel insurance during the peak of the pandemic earlier this year. Inadequate insurance couldn’t cover extended hotel accommodation, nor could it cover new flight tickets and other costs.

REGISTER: When you arrive in the country you are travelling to, please register with South Africa’s embassies abroad. The contacts of all our embassies are available at on the Department of International Relations and Cooperation website. South Africans are encouraged to register via the email addresses provided as some officials might be working remotely due to local lockdown regulations and will not always be available to take your call.

CONTACTS: Inform your family or next of kin of your destination and the duration of your stay.

IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS: Ensure that you meet the immigration requirement of the country you wish to visit as countries have revised their visa regimes during the global pandemic.

PROOF: Check the COVID-19 protocol of the country you intend to visit. Should you not comply with the requirements, you might be refused entry. Although not yet common, many airlines my likely require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination before allowing commencement of travel. Currently, only a COVID-19 test is compulsory.

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