Travel insurance is not mandatory when visiting South Africa

Travel insurance is not mandatory when visiting South Africa


At the end of 2020, it was announced that visitors to South Africa no longer required travel insurance to cover COVID-19-related costs. To date, this regulation remains applicable, much to the relief of travel insurers. For travellers who want to enter the country, other precautionary measures do still apply.

In the Disaster Management Act Amendment of Regulations gazette on November 11, no mention of mandatory travel insurance is made, which was previously a prerequisite to enter the country as a guest.

This amendment is welcomed by many travel insurance providers who suddenly found themselves situated between a rock and a hard place, saying that it was impossible for an insurance policy as low as R400 (the required minimum amount) to cover the costs of COVID-19-related procedures.

However, many other precautionary measures do still prevail, and the gazette includes the following regulations in terms of international travel:

(a) All travellers are to provide a valid certificate of a negative Covid-19 test which was obtained no more than 72 hours before the date of travel.

(b) If a traveller fails to submit a certificate as proof of a negative Covid-19 test, the traveller will be required to quarantine him or herself at his or her own costs.

Local travellers who remain within the borders of the country also no longer need to complete the previously mandatory health questionnaires. In this regard, responsible travelling between provinces and mandatory mask-wearing in public does still apply.

For South Africans who wish to travel overseas, the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) says travel insurance is non-negotiable and is mandatory for those wishing to exit the country.

Rachael Penaluna, manager at Sure Maritime Travel had the following to say:

“The situation is incredibly fluid for the moment. Countries can move from low-risk to high-risk at any time and adjust their entry requirements at very short notice. Travellers often wonder what happens if they test positive or get sick at their destination. Travel insurance is therefore non-negotiable”.

Travellers are urged to continuously keep in mind that the current pandemic can be unpredictable in nature and laws can change quickly at present.