South Africa - Consular Information Sheet
November 1, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Although South Africa is in many
respects a developed country, much of its population lives in
poverty. There are adequate tourist facilities in all urban centers,
game parks and areas most commonly visited by tourists. Food and
water are generally safe, and a wide variety of consumer goods
and pharmaceuticals are readily available.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: South Africa has tightened its visa
requirements for certain categories of visitors. Only visitors
on tourism, short business consultations, or in transit do not
require visas; others need visas or will be refused admission
and returned to their point of origin. Visitors who intend to
work in South Africa must apply for work permits abroad at the
appropriate South African Embassy or Consulate. Travelers entering
South Africa from countries where yellow fever is endemic are
often required to present their yellow World Health Organization
(WHO) vaccination record or other proof of inoculation or must
be inoculated at the airport in order to be permitted entry. Travelers
may obtain further information from the Embassy of South Africa,
3051 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone
(202) 232-4400, or the South African Consulates in Los Angeles,
Chicago, or New York. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the
nearest South African Embassy or Consulate.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Political violence has significantly
decreased in most areas of South Africa since the establishment
of a democratically elected government in May 1994. Some public
gatherings, however, have provoked violent clashes between political
factions, resulting in casualties. The highest incidence of such
political violence has occurred in the province of Kwazulu/Natal.
Although foreigners have not been specifically targeted in these
attacks, some have been caught up in general disturbances. Some
townships in the vicinity of major cities, most notably Durban,
Johannesburg, and Cape Town, have been scenes of violent demonstrations
and factional conflict. Areas most frequented by tourists, such
as major hotels, game parks and beaches, generally have been unaffected
by political or factional violence. In August 1998 and January
1999, however, American franchise restaurants in Cape Town were
bombed, and the possibility of renewed threats against American
interests cannot be discounted. Americans and American interests
were not obviously targeted during the year 2000. Bombing venues
have included police stations, courthouses and commercial venues,
such as bars, restaurants and shopping areas. Two of the targeted
locations have American place names. Random bombings continue
to occur in and near Cape Town, with five in August/September
2000. No person or group has taken responsibility for any of the
bombings. The South African government is taking steps to control
the violence, and is actively investigating all bombings.
While visiting game parks and reserves, leaving your vehicle
or otherwise being on foot can be dangerous, even in the presence
of a guide. Between July and September 2000 there were four incidents
of wild animal attacks on American citizens in the region, resulting
in three deaths and one serious injury.
CRIME INFORMATION: Although the vast majority of visitors
complete their travels in South Africa without incident, visitors
should be aware that criminal activity, sometimes violent, occurs
on a routine basis. Crime in South Africa is perceived to be a
significant threat to the country's overall stability and to the
welfare of its citizens. Criminal activity, such as assault and
armed robbery, is particularly high in areas surrounding many
hotels and public transportation centers, especially in major
cities. American citizens should exercise particular caution in
these areas. Notwithstanding government anti-crime efforts, crimes
such as carjackings, muggings, "smash and grab" attacks
on vehicles and other incidents are regularly reported by visitors
and resident Americans. Crimes against property, such as car jacking,
have also often been accompanied by violent acts, including murder.
South Africa has a very high incidence of rape. Foreigners are
not specifically targeted, although rape of foreigners has occurred
on rare occasions.
Travelers may also wish to consider avoiding local commuter and
metro trains, especially between Johannesburg and Pretoria, as
a number of American passengers have been the subjects of muggings
and violent attacks.
In the Western Cape, police resources have been strained by continuing
gang conflicts and vigilante violence in the townships near Cape
Town. Travelers should use extreme caution when traveling in,
to, or through affected areas.
Credit card fraud, counterfeit U.S. currency, and various check-cashing
scams are frequently reported. Do not permit anyone to "assist"
you with ATM transactions.
Beware of schemes in which a caller from South Africa (who is
usually not South African) attempts to win the confidence of an
unsuspecting American, who is then persuaded to either provide
privileged financial information or travel to South Africa to
assist in a potentially lucrative business venture. Those contemplating
such transactions are urged to contact either the U.S. Department
of Commerce or the U.S. Department of State before providing personal
financial information or making any financial commitments.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. The pamphlets A Safe
Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information
on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the
region in general. Both are available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
TRAVEL TO THE FORMER "INDEPENDENT HOMELANDS": Travelers
should avoid nighttime travel and use caution when driving in
the former "independent homelands" of Transkei and Ciskei,
which have been incorporated into the provinces of Eastern Cape
and Kwazulu/Natal. Some areas, such as the "wild coast"
in the former Transkei, have significant levels of crime and inadequate
medical services. This situation, though improving, has caused
problems for foreign travelers to the area. Travelers may contact
the U.S. Consulate General in Cape Town or the U.S. Consulate
General in Durban for further information before embarking on
trips to these areas.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are good in urban
areas and in the vicinity of game parks and beaches, but may be
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services, but usually do accept credit cards. Uninsured
travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations
and other health precautions may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's International
Travelers Hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (877-394-8747), fax: 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning South Africa is provided for general reference
only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Good
Road conditions are generally good. Many drivers travel at very
high rates of speed, however, and poor lighting on rural roads
and insufficient regulatory control regarding driver licensing
and vehicle maintenance pose dangers to travelers. A number of
Americans have been killed in highway accidents since the mid-1990's,
only occasionally caused by the fact that driving is on the left
in South Africa.
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page
at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information
concerning South Africa driving permits, vehicle inspection, road
tax and mandatory insurance, contact the South Africa National
Tourist Organization offices on 1-800-822-5368.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the government of South Africa's Civil Aviation
Authority as Category 1 -- in compliance with international aviation
safety standards for oversight of South Africa's air carrier operations.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit
Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S.
Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air
carriers for suitability as official providers of air services.
For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers,
travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
South Africa law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested
or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in
illegal drugs in South Africa are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans
living in or visiting South Africa are encouraged to register
at the Consular Section of the nearest U.S. Consulate and obtain
updated information on travel and security within South Africa.
U.S. Embassy is located at 877 Pretorius Street Arcadia in
Pretoria, telephone (27-12) 342-1048, fax (27-12) 342-5504. Note:
The U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg provides most consular
services for Americans in the Pretoria area.
The Consulate General in Johannesburg is located at No. 1 River
Street (corner of River and Riviera Road), Killarney, Johannesburg,
telephone (27-11) 644-8000, fax (27-11) 646-6916. Its consular
jurisdiction includes Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Northern, North West,
and Free State provinces.
The Consulate General in Cape Town is located at Broadway Industries
Center, Heerengracht, Foreshore, telephone (27-21) 421-4280, fax
(27-21) 425-3014. Its consular jurisdiction includes Western Cape,
Eastern Cape, and Northern Cape Provinces.
The Consulate General in Durban is located at Durban Bay House,
29th floor, 333 Smith Street, telephone (27-31) 304-4737, fax
(27-31) 301-0265. Its consular jurisdiction includes Kwazulu/Natal