At most destinations, foreign visitors and returnees are required to submit a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate to allow entry. This means that travelers must perform the COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure of the flight.

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) has set up a testing unit in OR Tambo to provide a convenient testing facility for travelers who need to obtain a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate before traveling from South Africa. ..

Travelers can take the test on the same day as the flight, or test it 1-2 days before the international flight and then collect the certificate on the day of the flight. Most destinations require testing within 72 hours of departure.

How the test works

Travelers leaving South Africa

  • The mobile test equipment is located at OR Tambo International Airport, in front of the police station, opposite the InterContinental Hotel.
  • The cost is R600 per test and can be paid by cash, check card or credit card. We do not accept payments with American Express cards.
  • Children under the age of 5 do not need to be tested.
  • Test results will be available within 4-6 hours and travelers will be able to stay at the airport while waiting for the results.
  • Alternatively, the traveler can test 1-2 days before the flight and collect a test certificate once the process is complete. All travelers will be notified by SMS when the results are processed.
  • The traveler can then collect the COVID-19 PCR test certificate and proceed to check-in.
  • For more information, please visit www.nhls.ac.za.

Travelers arriving in South Africa

  • All arriving passengers require a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate upon arrival (obtained within 72 hours of the flight to South Africa).
  • The certificate is valid for the duration of the passenger’s journey, including transit and stopovers.
  • The test is only valid for one entry into South Africa.
  • Passengers arriving must prepare a printed test certificate upon arrival in South Africa. If you cannot make a printed copy, you can email a digital copy to the Port Health Authority (ortia.operations@health.gov.za).
  • A digital copy must be received by the harbor health authorities before passengers are admitted to the country.
  • To ensure tracking of mailed certificates, travelers must include their surname, passport number, flight number, and arrival date in the subject line of emails to port health authorities.

Travelers who do not get PCR results on arrival

If the arriving or returning traveler does not have a negative PCR test, they will be directed to the airport’s laboratory and NHLS staff will perform the test immediately.

Travelers have to pay for the test themselves.

Travelers must wait for the results to be processed before they are admitted to South Africa.

If the test is negative, the traveler will be admitted. However, if the result is positive, the traveler must quarantine at the designated center at his own expense.

Travelers may not travel across states during quarantine.

If you reject the test, it will be quarantined

International passengers who refuse the test must be quarantined at the designated center at their own expense.

Non-South African travelers need to download the South African COVID Alert SA app. With this app you can track when you are visiting this country.

Although required, South African passport holders and permanent residents are also encouraged to download the app.