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Travel to SA – Tips

Are you planning a trip to South Africa? We have some helpful tips to ensure it is a smooth and enjoyable one. 
However, we know that you may have unique travel experiences and tips that may benefit others. So, don’t hesitate to submit your tips and we can include them on this page. 

New SARS Traveller declaration

The new SARS Traveller declaration form for those returning to South Africa is still in the pilot phase and will continue voluntarily until further notice. This is a Customs declaration form.
All the information is available on the SARS website

Drivers Licence

When you convert your South African driver’s licence to a German licence, you have to hand in your SA card. If you want to drive in South Africa, or any other country outside the EU you need to apply for an International licence from the road traffic authorities (Führerscheinstelle) where you live.
Regulation 110 of the Road Traffic Act states that a foreign licence may only be accepted for driving in SA if it is issued in one of the SA’s official languages. Since the German driver’s licence is issued in German (and not English), by law you need to have an international driving licence with you. 

International licence – Yes you need one!

An International licence is basically a translation and confirmation of your German driving licence that can be recognised by the authorities. It serves as a translation and an interpretation of the licence (the original licence must accompany the International Driving Permit).

Regulation 110 of the Regulations to the National Road Traffic Act states that you need an International licence together with your German driving licence, based on the fact that German driving licences are issued only in German. This approach is also summarised by the Department of Transport on this working instruction to traffic centres that deal with foreign licences: https://www.arrivealive.co.za/documents/foreign%20dl%20and%20idp.pdf (see point 1.2 regarding the handling of foreign driving licences).

Here is an extract of Regulation 110: Conditions for acknowledgement and exchange of driving licence not issued in terms of Act, and international driving permit.—(1)  Subject to sub-regulation (1A) and (3), a driving licence referred to in section 23 (1) (a) of the Act, issued while the holder of it was not permanently or ordinarily resident in the Republic, shall, for the period for, and subject to the conditions under which it was issued, be deemed to be a valid licence for the purposes of Chapter IV of the Act, if

(a)  (i) the licence has been issued in an official language of the Republic;
or (ii) a certificate of authenticity or validity relating to the licence issued in an official language of the Republic by a competent authority, or a translation of that licence in such an official language, is attached to it.
(b) such licence contains or has attached to it, a photograph and the signature of the licence holder.

To apply for an international licence, you will need your German driving licence and a current biometric photo.
An international driver’s licence costs around 16 euros. – 2023. 
You can find more information here, or Google “Führerschein (international) beantragen”

Sim cards, mobile data and Wi-FI

  • Try to find accommodation that offers free Wi-Fi. Many restaurants offer free Wi-Fi.
  • You can use your German number to roam in South Africa. This can become expensive.
  • Rent a mobile phone for your time in South Africa. Vodacom offers phone rentals
  • Read about using Cellucity B4ITravel here. I have not personally used them and have no idea how good the service is.
  • Compare eSims for South Africa on the eSIMDB website
  • Airalo (e-sim). They offer data packs at local rates. The app does not work on all phones.
  • Some Car rental companies offer additional rental of mobile phones and GPS devices

Money (Rands)

If you still have bank accounts in South Africa you can transfer money to these accounts for your trip to South Africa.
If you do not have any bank accounts in SA, you can consider the following:

  • Take cash with you – always a risk
  • Use your German credit card if it is open for foreign transactions. Some banks allow a certain amount of free transactions. You can also withdraw cash. 
  •  Use your German debit card if it is open for foreign transactions
  • Travelers Cheques, which you can cash in at local banks. 
  • You can also withdraw money at the cashier when paying at certain grocery stores for items.

Please keep the exchange rate in mind as well as the transaction fees.
Always have some cash with you as not everyone takes cards e.g. street vendors, taxis.

Foreign Exchange- EUR to ZAR

We are not financial advisors and therefore cannot give financial advice. The information here should not be seen as financial advice in any way.Always make informed decisions and speak to a professional when you are unsure. What is exchange control? Foreign exchange controls are various forms of controls imposed by a government on the purchase/sale of foreign currencies by residents or on the purchase/sale of local currency by nonresidents.

Identity documents and passports

When you have only a South African passport:

  1. To travel from Germany to South Africa, you will need a valid South African passport.
  2. To travel back from South Africa to Germany, you will need a valid South African passport and a valid German Aufenthaltstitel (temporary residence permit),  Niederlassungserlaubnis (permanent residence card) card, a valid visa or a Fiktionsbescheinigung (Temporary proof of German residence).
    Please be mindful of any limitations or restrictions of your documents e.g single entry Aufenthaltstitel (temporary residence permit), in this case, usually for short student visas,  you are not allowed to travel from and back to Germany on your current Aufenthalt (Residence permit).

Check the validity of your South African passport and consider applying for a new one in South Africa. The turnaround time has been very good lately.

Applying for your ID in South Africa

Applying for official documents from the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has become a whole lot easier.  Apply online You can apply for your Smart ID or Passport online via the eHomeAffairs website. You will still need to

Temporary proof of German Residence

To stay in Germany longer than 90 days in a 180 period, you will need a residence permit. Qualifying for a residence permit will depend, among other things, on the type of visa you applied for. Your long-stay visa allows

Passport – Applying in South Africa

Applying for a new Adult Tourist passport in South Africa can be done online via the Department of Home Affairs E-Services. This service allows you to fill in the application form online and make an appointment for your biometrics.  Biometrics

Visas and dual citizenship

It is considered an offence for a South African over the age of 18 with dual citizenship to enter or leave the country using their foreign passport.
Once you’ve obtained dual citizenship, you must use your South African passport when entering and leaving South Africa. For more information see the “Notice to South Africans who have dual Citizenship”  Document from the Embassy in Berlin

German Passport, staying longer than 90 days
A German citizen can travel to South Africa without a visa for up to 90 days, thereafter they need a visa.
If you renounced your South African Citizenship and are travelling on a German passport, you still have the right to permanent residence in South Africa. Make sure you take along all your supporting documentation for example your original renunciation certificate and if you already have one, your new non-Citizen Identity document.

You can apply for your new Non-citizen identity document as soon as you receive confirmation of your renunciation of South African citizenship.  

Children

The rules for travelling with children to South Africa accompanied and unaccompanied can be found on the Department of Home Affairs website.
– Here is a link to the  Suggested Parental consent letter from the Department of Home Affairs. It does not need to be notarized.

When you want to travel during a German school term, you can apply for special leave (Beurlaubung).

Travel during a school Term

The school rules in Germany are very strict and every student is obliged to attend classes and other school events. You therefore cannot take your child out of school before the term ends. They must attend school for the whole term, with only certain exemptions like ill-health, participation in sports competitions, or an important personal reason like the marriage of siblings, death in the family or serious illness in the family, see the next section on Beurlaubung.

Travel Insurance

Make sure you have travel insurance to cover your trip. Some credit cards offer this for free, but make sure you know what you are covered for.
Some companies that offer travel insurance:

Medical

Make sure your medical costs will be covered. You can take out additional medical cover, or have it included in your travel insurance.

Flights

The major airports in Germany are Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg and Düsseldorf.

Direct Flights between SA and Germany
Direct flights to SA are only from Frankfurt and Munich (Seasonal)

  • Lufthansa has flights between Frankfurt and O.R Tambo Intl and well as to Cape Town. They also fly the Munich – Cape Town route. From early 2024 they will offer flights from Munich to Johannesburg.  Lufthansa offers the opportunity to bid for upgrades and depending on how full the flight is you can book a sleeper row, which cost a lot less than Premium Economy or Business class.
  • Condor reinstated their Frankfurt to Cape Town flights. They also have two flights a week between Frankfurt and  O.R. Tambo, but both destinations are only during their Winter flight plan. Get up-to-date info on their 2023 Winter and Summer flight plans. 

Other Airlines

  • Emirates has flights from Berlin, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf, connecting in Dubai and flying to O.R Tambo, Durban, and Cape Town
  • Turkish Airlines flies from Berlin, Bremen, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Friedrichshafen, Hamburg, Hannover, Karlsruhe, Cologne, Leipzig, Munich, Nuremberg and Stuttgart to Istanbul. From there they fly to O.R Tambo
  • Qatar Airlines, British Airways, and KLM all have connecting flights to South Africa
Airline and Flight Reviews
The following reviews are from our FB members and are not the view of the admin team of this website
Condor

“I didn’t know it at the time of booking, but Condor is a cut-price airline. My priority was direct flights there and back, so it suited me fine.
The planes were quite old A330’s in which a few of the screens do not work as well as the remote control was stuck so as to be unusable.
The food was vegetarian, i.e. pasta, with a varying sauces for the return trip.  Breakfast was not eggs, bacon (or sausage), and fried tomato, but rather a type of (tasteless) cheese in pastry (made in NL). On the return trip, it was a cheese croissant. The seats, however,  seemed somehow much narrow than normal.”

Seat Info –  You can search your flight details either on the airline’s website or read reviews on Seatguru

Flying with Children

Flying with Children Travelling with small kids can be an amazing experience but also quite a task especially when it involves long flights. One of the key

Connecting Flight in SA

If you have an onward flight for instance to Hoedspruit, you will have to clear passport control and customs at the arrival airport of your international leg. 

Luggage:
International – domestic connections
After clearing customs and collecting your bags at the international carousel, you must check in your luggage for your domestic flight. There should be a fast bag drop re-check desk available but not guaranteed. Once you have dropped your bag, head to Domestic Terminal and pass through security before heading to your gate.

Recommended minimum connecting time is 90 minutes. Please allow extra time if you require special assistance or you are travelling with children.

Luggage

For luggage restrictions in the EU, a single bag may not weigh more than 23 kg. 
The amount of bags you are allowed to take with you will depend on your airline, ticket class and fare conditions.
Laptops and electronic devices containing Lithium Batteries may not be transported in checked luggage and must be in your hand luggage. 

Travel advice and bookings

We have Travel agents listed on our website. These businesses are owned and run by South Africans living in Germany.
Contact them to get expert advice and assistance with bookings.

Morkel’s Travels

Founded in 2014, Travelor started as a unique startup that cracked down on the method of lowering vacation prices around the world using social power.

Mon Voyage Travel and Tours

Mon Voyage Travel and Tours is an IATA and ASATA accredited Travel Agency based in Port Elizabeth, South Africa Waiting, willing and ready to assist

The Expat Travel Shop

The Expat Travel Shop is full-service travel agency with over 2 decades of experience in global travel. Our personal approach meets client needs in both

Reise Explorer

From the Hocheifel to the world! With a destination knowledge of over 140 visited countries on all 6 continents, we help you to make the

Gift ideas

  • Cuckoo clocks
  • Beer Krüge / Beer Stein
  • Nutcrackers
  • Music boxes
  • Handmade wooden toys
  • Räuchermännchen
  • Schwibbbogen
  • Garden Gnomes
  • Hummel handcrafted Figurines 
  • Anything from Käthe Wohlfahrt
  • Tulip glasses (beer or wine)
  • Authentic/Branded Beer glasses
  • Glassware from Riedel
  • Rosenthal Porcelain
  • Zwilling products
  • WMF Products
  • Raclette Grill
  • Haribo sweets, Hannuta, Giotto
  • Decent Marzipan like Niederegger
  • Mozart Kugeln
  • Canned Venison
  • Mustard and “Pommes Mayo”
  • Obstbrände and Schnaps like Williams Pear Schnapps
  • Eierlikör
  • Teas
  • Nürnberger Lebkuchen for example from Lebkucken Schmidt
  • Steiff Teddy bear
  • Lego
  • Dr Hauscha Skin care
  • Dr Beckmann Gallseiffe

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