South Africans will have to show the relevant documentation before the Home Affairs department approves it. Picture: Anna Shvets/Pexels.
South Africans will have to show the relevant documentation before the Home Affairs department approves it. Picture: Anna Shvets/Pexels.

LISTEN: What South Africans leaving the country for essential travel should know

By Travel Reporter Time of article published May 27, 2020

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South Africans who are considering to travel to countries of work or study will need to show the relevant documents before it is approved. 

This follows Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's announcement over the weekend that South Africans who work and study abroad can return to the countries where they are based from June 1, 2020.  

Motsoaledi, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the National Coronavirus Command Council, approved essential travel for South Africans who want to return to countries where they are based. Home Affairs said South Africans can only depart for work, study, family reunion, take up permanent residency or receive medical attention. No leisure travel will be permitted. 

Advocate Bongani Bongo from the Home Affairs Committee shed some light on the procedure on the Breakfast with Refilwe Moloto show on Cape Talk. Bongo said that when the coronavirus pandemic started to surface around the world, the department received many calls from South Africans living abroad who wanted to return home. 

“A lot of these South Africans living abroad came back home, but due to the difficulty to travel outside our borders, they had to remain in South Africa. They now have the opportunity to go back to their country of work, study or join their families abroad or receive medical treatment,” he said on the show. 

He said Home Affairs will facilitate the process. He said South Africans needs to produce proof that the country they are travelling to have opened its borders. This also applies to connecting flights to other countries. 

He explained: “If you want to go to London via Qatar, you must produce something that says that you will land in Qatar on your way to London. The traveller will have to produce all these documents before the permission is granted for them to go.” 

The department said those wishing to return to the countries where they reside should have the following:

(a) A copy of their valid South African passport

(b) A letter confirming their admissibility under the current circumstances from the embassy or other diplomatic/consular representative of the country they want to travel to. If returning by road or connecting via flights, the proof submitted needs to include permission from each transiting country.

(c) Proof of means of travel such as air or bus tickets and the intended date of departure.

"South Africans who fall in these categories and satisfy the criteria can send an email to [email protected]"

The department said an email would be sent to travellers who meet the criteria to enable them to proceed with their travel arrangements.

 People applying as a group can send one email with the supporting documents for each member of the group. 


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