The Department of Home Affairs has announced the resumption of limited services and protocols for certain travelers, such as returning South African citizens and permanent residents and departing foreign nationals.

As of May 1, the country moved from a Level 5 to Level 4 alert, and President Cyril Ramaphosa relaxed the nationwide lockdown, allowing some businesses to reopen.

The Department of Home Affairs is providing the following services during the Level 4 phase:

  • Issuance of temporary identity certificates.
  • Collection of identity cards or documents. Smart ID cards may be collected at all live capture offices, but no new applications will be accepted during this period.
  • Registration of births and deaths, excluding late registration of birth.
  • Re-issuance of birth and death certificates.
  • Applications and collection of passports for those traveling across the country’s borders to deliver essential goods and those traveling outside the country to receive medical treatment.

South African citizens and permanent residents returning to South Africa must follow these protocols:

  • Obtain prior approval from the South African mission in the country where they are by applying within 72 hours of their intended entry into South Africa.
  • Submit with their application a copy of their passport, ID card or document; a copy of their permanent residence permit, if applicable; and their travel itinerary in the previous two months.
  • If allowed to enter South Africa, the individual will be referred for mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Foreign nationals who are repatriated to their home country or country of residence must follow these procedures before departing:

  • Obtain approval from the relevant foreign mission or consulate in South Africa within 72 hours of intended departure. The application must include a copy of the applicant’s passport, temporary residence visa or permanent residence permit, and proof of the applicant’s means of travel.
  • The foreign mission or consulate must notify the Minister of Home Affairs in writing and obtain prior approval of the intended exit.

Analysis & Comments: Though DHS is resuming some functions, applicants seeking immigration services should anticipate significant delays, as only skeletal staff will return to work. Expatriates returning home should be aware of the pre-approval process and factor in the new requirements when planning their departure. Borders remain closed to international inbound travel with limited exceptions. The response to the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop, and Deloitte will provide additional updates as information becomes available. Please check Deloitte’s COVID-19 Digital Map, available here, for information on travel restrictions and immigration changes in other countries.

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