Can Africa introduce a cashless economy?

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The spread of COVID-19 continues to lead to restrictions in international air and travel traffic and impairment of public life.

Before unnecessary tourist trips to South Africais currently being warned.

Epidemiological situation

South Africa is severely affected by COVID-19. The number of new infections has recently been relatively low. Regional focal points are the provinces of Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape.
In December 2020, the new virus variant with a higher infection potential was discovered in South Africa. South Africa is therefore classified as an area with a particularly high risk of infection (virus variant area).
The South African Department of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) provide current and detailed figures.


All travelers over five years of age must show a negative COVID-19 test upon arrival, which meets the requirements of the WHO and must not be older than 72 hours upon departure. Travelers who enter the country without such a test certificate must undergo an antigen test immediately upon arrival at their own expense and, in the event of a positive test result, go to a 10-day quarantine. When checking the requirements for passengers to take passengers on their way to South Africa, airlines rely on the requirements of the South African Civil Aviation Authority and, as experience has shown, require proof of negative PCR tests without exception.

The use of a web-based travel health questionnaire via the platform COVID SA Travel System is mandatory. Travelers must fill out the questionnaire online two days before the start of the trip at the earliest and receive an identification number that must be presented to the health authorities when entering or leaving the country. Experience has shown that the airlines also distribute printed blank questionnaires, which - completely filled in - have been accepted as an alternative up to now.

All travelers are also expected to have the "COVID Alert South Africa" ​​mobile app installed on their mobile phones, to show travel health insurance and to present their proof of accommodation including address should quarantine be required. Airlines and immigration control points check compliance with these requirements. Foreign travel health insurance is no longer mandatory for entry, but it is still strongly recommended.

Transit and onward travel

The obligation to provide evidence of a negative PCR test upon entry into South Africa also applies in the event of a planned transit. Proof of existing health insurance is not required, but it can facilitate a smooth transit. Travel warnings also apply to the neighboring countries of South Africa. Entry and exit by land to and from South Africa are only allowed at 20 border crossings. Long handling times are to be expected there. All commercial sea ports are open.

Travel connections

There are regular international flight connections, but with a very limited offer. Domestic flights are often full.

Due to the Coronavirus Entry Ordinance of May 12, 2021 and the classification of South Africa as a virus variant area, in addition to the existing registration and test obligation and the extended and unconditional quarantine obligation, proof of a negative COVID-19 test in German and English must be provided when traveling from South Africa to Germany , French, Spanish or Italian language, even if travelers are already fully vaccinated. Airlines and other carriers are otherwise not allowed to take people over the age of six with them.

The underlying PCR test may have been carried out a maximum of 72 hours, and a rapid antigen test in accordance with the requirements of the Robert Koch Institute a maximum of 24 hours before the planned entry.

The ban on transporting people in cross-border rail, bus, ship and air traffic in South Africa does not apply to German nationals and people with residence and right of residence in the Federal Republic of Germany, but can lead to changes in the flight plan and reductions in flight connections to and from Germany .

Restrictions in the country

A lockdown applies throughout South Africa (Alert Level 1). This includes, among other things, a night curfew, an obligation to wear mouth and nose protection in public and a ban on larger social gatherings. The South African government provides detailed information in English.

Hygiene rules

In public and at work there is an obligation to wear mouth and nose protection without exception. Hands must be disinfected before entering shops. A distance rule of 1.5 m must be observed (special features apply e.g. to transport).

  • Make sure you comply with the AHA regulations and also follow the instructions from local authorities. Violations of the hygiene regulations can result in high fines and prison sentences.
  • Find out about detailed measures and additional information from the South African government.
  • Install the mobile app "COVID Alert South Africa".
  • In the event of COVID-19 symptoms or contact with infected people, contact the South African COVID hotline by phone (0800 029 999) or WhatsApp (0600 12 3456).
  • Be sure to check with your airline about the current conditions of carriage and possible changes to the flight schedule.
  • Stays in foreign countries can currently affect the possibility of entering other countries. Therefore, find out about the current regulations on entry, transit and quarantine in the respective travel countries via the travel and safety information before starting any trip.
  • When you return to Germany, note the valid entry restrictions such as registration, test and quarantine regulations, inquire about the current conditions of carriage at the responsible company or your tour operator, if necessary, and contact the health department at your place of residence or residence if you are entering from a risk area . Further information is available in our continuously updated info box on COVID-19 / Coronavirus.



Domestic situation

Protests and demonstrations and, in particular, conflicts can often occur due to the great social differences in the country. Isolated violent clashes and traffic obstructions cannot be ruled out.

  • Find out about the local media.
  • Avoid demonstrations and large gatherings of people in large areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local security guards.


South Africa has a high crime rate, especially in large cities and their peripheral areas. This includes acts of violence such as robbery, rape and murder. The vast majority of violent crime occurs in areas and under circumstances that do not affect travelers. You can still be the target and victim of theft, break-ins, robbery and similar crimes.

Handbags are often torn away on the streets, especially in city centers. Thefts also occur in hotel restaurants and rooms. At ATMs, there is always manipulation or attempted fraud by people who pretend to help with withdrawing money, but actually aim to exchange the bank / credit card for a forgery or to steal the PIN. Other scams and credit card fraud are also common.

Travelers or tour groups are stopped and robbed on motorways or driveways, for example by being wedged or occasionally stopped by vehicles that falsely pretend to be police. The routes to and from the airports in Johannesburg and Pretoria are particularly affected.

In heavy traffic and at red lights, there are more frequent lightning break-ins, so-called "smash-and-grab" - attacks in which car doors are opened or windows smashed in order to steal valuables from the car. After dark, there is a risk of vehicle hijacking (so-called "carjackings") at intersections with less traffic.

When driving on the motorway in the urban area, especially when transit through certain suburban areas (e.g. Cape Town: N2 route to and from the airport, route Cape Town - Stellenbosch / Somerset West-Cape Town; Pretoria: trips on the N4 to Pilanesberg or to Lanseria airport on the N14) there is an increased risk of so-called “stoning” at dusk and in the dark, ie vehicles are forced to slow down and stop by throwing stones or stone blocks in order to use the situation to attack the occupants.

  • Refrain from any resistance in the event of a robbery, the perpetrators could be armed.
  • If you have a mobile phone with you during your stay, do not wear it visibly in inner-city areas. Emergency numbers: Police 10 111, ambulance services 10 177 or 112.
  • Keep your money, ID, driver's license, air tickets and other important documents safe.
  • Do not sport valuables; Avoid using large, valuable handbags if possible.
  • Prefer cashless payments and only take the cash you need for the day and no unnecessary valuables.
  • Never let your credit card out of your sight, insist on a portable reader.
  • Do not choose ATMs on the street, but rather in shopping malls, supermarkets or banks and never let strangers watch you or help you.
  • After hours, and especially after dark, avoid downtown Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth and other major cities; On Sundays and public holidays you should only stay in groups in the city centers. Also exercise caution during the day.
  • Always keep car windows closed and car doors locked from the inside.
  • Handbags, cameras, cell phones etc. should never be left visible in the car, but should be carried in the trunk.
  • When waiting at large intersections, pay close attention to your surroundings and keep a sufficient distance from other vehicles.
  • It is best to only go on excursions in groups. If you are traveling alone, try to join larger groups if possible.
  • Do not use lonely hiking trails for excursions to publicly accessible natural areas and parks and to well-known sights and avoid inanimate areas.
  • Do not go on hikes and trekking tours like in and around Table Mountain alone, but only in larger groups and, if possible, with a local guide.
  • You should also only undertake township visits in an organized manner and only with a local guide.
  • As a backpacker, make sure you have safe accommodation Relevant travel guides give recommendations for backpacker hostels, but caution is advised.
  • Be skeptical of unfamiliar e-mails, profit notifications, offers and requests for help from alleged acquaintances. Do not disclose any data about yourself; if necessary, make sure yourself personally or contact the police.

Nature and climate

The climate is dry to subtropical and humid. Bush and forest fires occur again and again, especially in the summer months of the northern hemisphere. Impairment of the infrastructure in the tourist areas cannot be ruled out in these cases.

Heavy rainfall can lead to flooding, even in national parks (such as the Kruger National Park).

In the sea there are sometimes strong (under) currents that pull even experienced and skilled swimmers out to sea. In the past, swimming accidents have occurred time and again. Sharks are also a potential danger for bathers.

  • Always observe prohibitions, signs and warnings, as well as the instructions of local authorities.
  • Find out about the latest news in the local media. You can find information about floods at SAN parks (South African National Parks), especially during the rainy season (January to March).
  • Pay attention to possible notices about water restrictions in the Cape region.
  • Always find out where it is safe to bathe in the sea and stay on guarded beaches.

Travel info

Infrastructure / traffic

Traffic routes may be impaired due to measures related to COVID-19 containment, see Current.

Long-distance public transport generally works reliably. There is a domestic flight network and bus connections between all major cities, but few train connections.

A rental car is recommended for individual travelers and small groups, as the local public transport networks are unsafe and confusing. An exception is the "Gautrain" between Johannesburg and Pretoria, which is usually safe and reliable.

In South Africa there is left-hand traffic. The road network is dense and the main roads are mostly in good condition. There are often tolls on motorways, some of which have to be paid directly and some are billed electronically. Information is provided, for example, by AA toll tariffs.
Back roads, especially in rural areas, are often inadequately secured and of poor quality. Dangers arise from the carelessness of other road users, especially from shared taxis, and frequent overtaking on the left despite the prohibition.

In some cases, traffic signs have a different meaning than in Germany. For example, a green illuminated turning arrow at the traffic light does not mean that you do not have to pay attention to pedestrians or oncoming traffic. In South Africa there are many "4-way-stop" intersections, i.e. all cars have to stop at the intersection first; The journey then continues according to the order of arrival, i.e. the car that stopped first at the intersection is the first to drive off again.

There are many speed cameras and high fines can be expected for violations. The alcohol limit is 0.5. If the limit is exceeded, arrest and imprisonment can be expected.

While better residential areas are often generously laid out and well-maintained, the “townships”, in which the majority of the non-white population groups still live, consist of mostly simple houses, barracks or huts. Townships are not to be equated with slums, there are also middle-class residential areas in townships. Above all, the townships and inner cities of the big cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban suffer from the high crime rate in the country.

  • Avoid the suburban trains in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban (exception "Gautrain"). If you do use the trains anyway, it is advisable to travel in 1st class and only during rush hour during the day.
  • Order taxis only from reliable, well-known companies; Guesthouses and hotels often help with reservations. Do not flag taxis in the street.
  • Refrain from hitchhiking and so-called minibus taxis.
  • It is illegal to be stopped by the police and asked to pay a fine in cash on the spot.
    In such cases, notify the South African corruption hotline “fraud and anti-corruption hotline” on 0800 00 28 70.
  • Drive extremely defensively; avoid any confrontation with other road users. Do not insist on your rights or tell others verbally or through gestures if you do not agree with the driving behavior of other road users.
  • After dark, do not undertake any overland trips, as car breakdowns, potholes, insufficiently signposted and secured construction sites and animals on the roadway pose a significant safety risk.

Driver's license

The international driving license is required and is only valid in conjunction with the national German driving license.


There are no restrictions in public life and tourists do not have to face disadvantages. The level of acceptance among the population can vary, however, and resentments cannot be ruled out in rural areas or townships.

Legal specifics

Possession, consumption, import, export and trafficking in drugs are punishable by law. The penalties provided by law range from a fine to 25 years in prison, depending on the seriousness of the crime.

Prostitution is a criminal offense in South Africa. Acts in the area of ​​child prostitution can be punished with particularly high prison sentences (up to 20 years). Sexual acts with children against payment to the child or a third person are criminalized, but also profiting from and living on profits from child prostitution.Any person up to the age of 18 is considered a child.

Bathing in the nude is a criminal offense.

The picking of protected plants and the capture of animals of protected species is prohibited and, depending on whether it took place on private or public property, or even in a nature reserve, can lead to severe fines and imprisonment of two to ten years. This also applies to the unauthorized export of protected plants and animals.

Money / credit cards

The local currency is the South African Rand (ZAR). Bank and credit cards connected to the Maestro system can be used at a sufficient number of international ATMs. Payment by credit card is common and welcomed.

Cash (euros or US dollars) can be changed anywhere in the metropolises. The passport must be presented when exchanging money. The South African Reserve Bank provides more information.

Entry and customs

Entry and transit regulations may currently differ due to measures to contain COVID-19, see Current.

Entry and import regulations for German citizens can change at short notice without the Foreign Office being informed beforehand. You can only obtain legally binding information and / or information that goes beyond this information on the entry and customs regulations for importing goods directly from the representatives of your destination country.
You can find the customs regulations for Germany on the website of German customs and via the “Customs and Travel” app, or you can inquire about them by telephone.

Travel documents

Entry is possible for German citizens with the following documents:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Temporary passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Provisional identity card: No
  • Children's passport: Yes, unless extended or updated

Comments / minimum remaining validity:
Travel documents must be valid for at least 30 days beyond the day of departure and have at least two free pages for visa stamps.
Even if you continue your journey to neighboring countries and then return to South Africa, sufficient pages for stamps must be available again.


German citizens generally do not need a visa for short-term tourist, visiting or business trips to South Africa.
Upon presentation of a valid return ticket, a visitor's visa is usually issued upon entry for the period of the planned trip, for a maximum of 90 days.

For other than short-term tourist, visiting or business trips, German citizens need a visa, which should be applied for at the South African embassy in Berlin before entering the country.

Holders of “travel documents for refugees in accordance with the agreement of July 28, 1951”, holders of German “travel documents for refugees in accordance with the agreement of October 15, 1946” and holders of “travel documents” are required to have a visa for South Africa.

Exceeding the stay ("overstay")

According to the current entry regulations, exceeding any residence permit ("overstay") leads to a "declaration of unwanted person" even by a few days. This results in an automatic entry ban for one to five years. The South African authorities apply this new regulation strictly, exceptions are not yet known. If you leave the country late, you will be declared an undesirable person even if you have applied for an extension of your residence permit, but this has not yet been decided. Objections to this can only be lodged after departure. However, the contradiction process is lengthy and success is not guaranteed. The Federal Foreign Office and its missions abroad have no influence on this.

  • It is essential that you adhere to the residence permit that has been issued to you and avoid an "overstay".


Minor German citizens traveling with at least one parent only need a valid passport since November 2019. However, it is still advisable to carry a birth certificate and a declaration of consent from the other parent with you, unless both parents with custody are traveling with you.

If a minor travels unaccompanied by an adult, the following documents must be carried along with the valid passport:

  • International birth certificate (or a birth certificate with an English translation),
  • Declaration of consent by the parents in English, e.g. using a "Parental consent letter" template,
  • Passport copies of the parents / guardians, in the case of sole care a court order on sole custody or death certificate of the other parent, each with a translation into English,
  • Contact details of parents / guardians,
  • Confirmation letter in English and contact details and passport copy of the person to whom the minor is to travel.

The Department of Home Affairs and the South African representations in Germany provide further information.

Import regulations

The import of foreign currency is possible without restrictions, but must be declared for an equivalent value of 10,000 US dollars or more. The import of the national currency is permitted up to an amount of 25,000 ZAR and must be declared for higher amounts. The export of rand is limited to ZAR 5,000, and foreign currencies to the amount declared upon entry.

Used personal items can be imported duty-free. There have recently been increasing difficulties with the import of hunting and sporting weapons.

  • If you would like to import weapons to South Africa, contact the South African diplomatic mission near your place of residence in good time before departure and ensure that your local tour operator provides assistance with the importation.


Import regulations for pets essentially depend on the country from which the animals are imported into South Africa. In any case, an import permit that is valid for six months is required. Animal Health provides this and all other information.



The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the disease COVID-19, which is triggered by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a pandemic.

  • Please note the continuously updated information on COVID-19 and the information in the COVID-19 leaflet on the WHO, RKI and BZgA websites.
  • Please note the information from the RKI on the new virus variant.


In January 2019, WHO declared delaying or skipping vaccinations as a threat to global health. In particular, the lack of vaccination against measles poses a high risk when the number of cases increases internationally.

  • As part of your travel preparations, check your and your children's vaccination protection against measles and have this supplemented if necessary.

Vaccination protection

No compulsory vaccinations are required for direct entry from Germany. However, a yellow fever vaccination must be proven when entering from a yellow fever area. This also applies to a transit-related stopover of over 12 hours, e.g. in Nairobi or Addis Ababa. A vaccination is also recommended for shorter transit times, as delays may occur or, in individual cases, the time spent in transit cannot be traced. A single vaccination is now considered a lifelong proof of vaccination in international travel.

  • Make sure that you and your children have the standard vaccinations according to the Robert Koch Institute's vaccination calendar up to date.
  • Vaccinations against hepatitis A are recommended as travel vaccinations, and in the case of long-term stays or special exposure also against hepatitis B and rabies (e.g. self-drive under camping conditions, contact with wild animals or project work in animal welfare).
  • Please note the instructions for use and help for the indication in the travel vaccination recommendations leaflet.
  • The DTG offers up-to-date, detailed travel vaccination recommendations for specialist groups.


Malaria is caused by crepuscular and nocturnal anopheles- Mosquitoes transmitted. If left untreated, the dangerous one is particularly dangerous Malaria tropica often fatal in non-immune Europeans. The disease can break out weeks to months after your stay in the risk area, see Malaria leaflet.

  • If you develop a fever during or even months after a corresponding trip, see your doctor as soon as possible and inform him about your stay in a malaria area.

A medium to high risk exists from October to May in the east of Mpumalanga Province (with the entire Kruger Park and adjacent private game reserves) and in the north and northeast of Limpopo Province. Malaria prophylaxis (see below) is recommended for this period.
There is a low risk from June to September in the east of Mpumalanga Province (with Kruger Park) and in the north and northeast of Limpopo Province; from September to May in the north and northeast of KwaZulu-Natal (including Tembe and Ndumo as well as Umfolozi and Hluhluwe game reserves).

To avoid malaria, protect yourself consistently against insect bites as part of exposure prophylaxis. You should pay particular attention to the following points:

  • Wear light-colored clothing that covers the body (long trousers, long shirts).
  • Repeatedly apply insect repellent to all exposed parts of the body, especially in the evening and at night (malaria).
  • If necessary, sleep under an impregnated mosquito net.

Depending on the travel profile, in addition to the necessary exposure prophylaxis, chemoprophylaxis (taking tablets) is also useful. Various prescription drugs (e.g. atovaquone proguanil, doxycycline, mefloquine) are available on the German market for this purpose.