Travel 101: Covid Restrictions

A man wearing a mask showing a digital boarding pass at an airport


Covid-19 travel restrictions are constantly changing. Here's where to find the latest rules around vaccine certificates, vaccine passports, quarantines and Travel Insurance.


You've had your second Covid-19 vaccination, compared holiday packages and booked your flights, and you're ready to dash off on your long-awaited holiday. Or not. There's still a huge amount of uncertainty around travel and Covid restrictions, and the rules seem to change every day.


Digital Covid-19 Vaccine Certificates


In line with many other countries, South Africa has introduced a digital vaccine certificate for those who have received either one J&J or two Pfizer jabs. Each certificate has a scannable QR code.


Most countries should accept this digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate, which you'll generally be required to present with your passport. You can manually access your certificate via the South African Government website.


First, have the following information on hand:
1. Your RSA ID Number, foreign passport number, or asylum or refugee number. (This should be the same ID document number you presented when you got vaccinated).
2. The cellphone number you included on your registration.
3. Your vaccination code from the SMS you received post-vaccination.


Then visit the South African Covid-19 Vaccine Certificate System portal, enter all that info and voilà!... your vaccine certificate is available for download.


If you don't receive an SMS with a vaccination code, call the Covid-19 Public Hotline on 0800 02 9999. Alternatively, contact the site at which you received your vaccination.


The digital vaccine certificate will be updated periodically to ensure that it meets international standards. The Department of Health will (theoretically) keep South Africans notified about the availability of updated versions, but it's best to be proactive and check the government website regularly. Remember that it is ultimately your responsibility to keep your certificate current.


Vaccine Passports


Are vaccine passports the same as South Africa's Digital Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate? Not exactly. A vaccine passport is a digital document introduced by numerous countries as a travel requirement. Presented to border officials upon entry, it contains your vaccination status and the negative results of the Covid-19 test some countries demand passengers have within 72 hours of take-off.


Most countries will allow South African travellers to enter with a Digital Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate, a standard South African passport, and a negative Covid-19 test result (if that's required prior to travel). However, every country's rules are different, and regulations change frequently. Be sure to double-check the current policies of the country you plan to visit before you leave.


Quarantine Rules


When it comes to quarantining, every country's Covid restrictions and rules are... you guessed it... different, and regulations are also subject to sudden change. Again, it's best to regularly check the official website of the country to which you're heading to ensure you're on top of new developments.


Here are the travel regulations pertaining to:
South Africa
United Kingdom
United States

Travel Insurance


Will your Travel Insurance cover you for Covid-related expenses? While some insurance companies have excluded Covid-19 related expenses from their policies, others do (at least in part) cover basic costs such as quarantine and medical expenses. Very few (by which we mean practically none) offer cancellation and curtailment cover should you test positive just before you leave. Some do, though... so be sure to do your homework.


Before you leave on your overdue overseas trip, use our free online tool to compare Travel Insurance quotes.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.

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