Entering South Africa during lock-down due to ‘exceptional circumstances’

Who is allowed to enter and exit South Africa under the national state of disaster?

Not all movement of persons is banned under the current state of national disaster. In terms of Government Gazette 43148 of 28 May 2020, the following persons are allowed to enter and exit South African borders:

  • Those seeking emergency medical attention for a life-threatening condition;
  • the evacuation of a South African national or permanent resident to the Republic;
  • the repatriation of a foreign national to his or her country of nationality or permanent residence;
  • the return of a South African national or permanent resident to his or her place of employment, study or residence, outside of the Republic; or
  • daily commuters from neighbouring countries who attend school in the Republic, and who are allowed entry and exit into and from the Republic, subject to compliance with protocols relating to screening, wearing a face mask, transportation, sanitisation and social distancing.

What if I don’t fall into the above categories?

Alternatively, as of 3 July 2020 and per Government Gazette 43504 of 3 July 2020, a person can apply to the Department of Home Affairs for an exemption, if they do not fall into one of the categories mentioned above and they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances for entering South Africa during the national state of disaster.

These requests need to be in writing, to the Minister of Home Affairs, and include a copy of a passport and a copy of the temporary residence visa, (excluding a visa referred to in paragraphs 5 and 6 of the Directions – in other words, those visas that have been withdrawn from high risk countries).

Any person who receives special permission from the Minister of Home Affairs will be subjected to the prescribed screening procedures and isolation or quarantine rules.

What counts as an exceptional circumstance?

A foreigner that is a spouse of a South African citizen or permanent resident, a foreigner who is a parent of a South African citizen or permanent resident or those with work and potentially financial interests in South Africa may qualify to enter South Africa under an ‘exceptional circumstance’.

If you need assistance in obtaining special permission to return to South Africa, or if you have filed your application to the Minister and have yet to have a response, contact us for further assistance.