Travelling Facts in South Africa

Personal Safety
Emergency Numbers
Health/Medical facilities
Banks and Money
Registration with your Embassy
Public Holidays

Personal Safety

South Africa is well known internationally as one of the crime capitals of the world, which may be an exaggeration by the media, however precautions must be taken.

  • Try to stay away from central Johannesburg and townships after dark.
  • Try to stay on the main roads and keep to well lit areas.
  • Should you be confronted by a thief or hijacker, do NOT resist.
  • Do not carry a lot of cash with you.
  • Do not display a lot of jewellery or cameras in the street or in your car.
  • Make sure valuable items such a bag, laptop, wallet, or cell phone are not visible in your vehicle as breaking windows and stealing from your car is very common.

  • Read more

South African Police Emergency number: 10111
Metro Police Rescue: 10177
Emergency using a mobile phone: 112 / 147
Accidents: 082911
Fire & Ambulance: (011) 375 5911
Fire Brigade: 286 6000 / 999
for emergency

Public phones are coin or card operated. Green phones use cards in denominations of R10 to R200, which may be bought at hotels, post offices and supermarkets. Cell phones may be hired at airports.

Useful numbers:

Directory assistance :1023

International :10903

time :1026

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Health and Medical Facilities

Emergency medical services are widely available country-wide, and airborne medical rescue teams service large cities such as Johannesburg. You must keep your medical aid card with you at all times and a medical aid disc displayed on your car so that in the event of an accident, you or your family members will be taken to private medical facilities.

Visitors to game parks must take malaria tablets from pharmacies (drug stores). Medical and hospital charges must be paid for immediately.

Travel insurance is recommended.

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Banks And Money

Credit Cards: Most major credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express) are accepted. They may also be used to draw cash from ATMís. Petrol may only be purchased either by cash or with a special petrol card. Do not give your credit card/bank card to a waiter when paying your restaurant bill. Ask the waiter to bring the card machine to your table.

Customs: Personal effects are allowed in duty free. Visitors may bring goods worth R500.00 and thereafter duty is leveled at 20%.

Foreign exchange: Commercial banks and the bureau de change

Lost or stolen credit cards

MasterCard: 0800 990 418
American Express: 0860 119 966 or 011 710 4750
Thomas Cook: 0800 998 175
Diners Club: (011) 358 8598

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Value Added Tax (VAT), currently at 14% is levied on most goods and services – visitors may reclaim VAT on purchases over R250.00 at international points of d

Registration with your Embassy

It is important that you register with your Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. Your Embassy will be able to promptly assist you in the event of you losing your passport. The requirements for registering vary, but will include the completion of a form, providing your passport details, address and contact telephone numbers.

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For the protection of you, your family and your property, it is advisable to take out relevant insurance: Comprehensive motor vehicle insurance, household insurance, all risks insurance (for your personal belongings that you have on your person), personal liability insurance (provides cover against legal liability for bodily injuries to third parties or their prop


The dress code in South Africa is generally casual but there are a few up market restaurants and theatres that require a collar and tie. In restaurants, it is customary to give a 10% tip to the waiter/waitress if the service was adequate and 20% if the service was exceptional. Most restaurants do not add the tip into the meal price.

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Only in smoking areas.

Public Holidays

New Year's Day 1 January
Human Rights Day 21 March
Good Friday 29 March
Family Day 1 April
Freedom Day 27 April
Worker's Day 1 May
Youth Day 16 June
National Women's Day 9 August
Heritage Day 24 September
Day of Reconciliation 16 December
Christmas Day 25 December
Day of Goodwill 26 December

If a holiday falls on a Sunday, the Monday is observed as a holiday.

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