South African Standard Time
South African standard Time is two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT +2), one hour in advance of central European winter time and seven hours in advance of United States eastern standard time throughout the year. There are no time zone differences within the country.
Every person seeking to enter South Africa must be in possession of a valid passport for travel to South Africa and, where necessary, a visa. Visitors who intend travelling to South Africa's neighbouring countries and back into South Africa are advised to apply for multiple entry visas.
No international immunisation is needed when entering South Africa. The only inoculation requirement is a yellow fever vaccination certificate from travellers over one year of age entering South Africa within six days of leaving an infected country. Visitors who travel through or disembark in these areas are advised to be inoculated against the disease before visiting South Africa.
Security and Safety
As South Africa is a developing country, crime does exist, so we would advise you to take a few basic precautions. All valuables, passports, cameras, should be locked in the safe of your hotel. Valuables should be carried discreetly when walking in cities.
Phoning overseas from South Africa
If you wish to make a call overseas, you must first dial 00, which is South Africa's international access code. You then dial the country code, area code of the city or region and the number of the person you wish to call. e.g. if you make a call to Sydney, Australia, telephone number 456 1234 you must dial 00 612 456-1234.
Weather and Climate
South Africa's climatic conditions generally range from Mediterranean in the southwestern corner of South Africa to temperate in the interior plateau, and subtropical in the northeast. A small area in the northwest has a desert climate. Most of the country has warm, sunny days and cool nights.
220/230 volts AC at 50 cycles per second. Three pronged plugs are universal, so take an adapter. Most hotel rooms have 110 volt outlets for electric shavers and small appliances.
There are 11 South African official languages including English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swati, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda and Zulu. However, English is spoken everywhere you go in South Africa. English is the language of the cities, of commerce and banking, of government and official documents. All our road signs and official forms are in English and at any hotel, Bed and Breakfast or Guest House, the service staff will speak to you in English.
Currency and Exchange Rates
One Rand (R) = 100 cents (c). Notes issued R200, R100, R50, R20, R10; coins R5, R2, R1, 50c 20c, 10c, 5c. Currency exchange rates are available at banks and published daily in the press or see South Africa Current Exchange Rates which are updated daily.
Tipping / Gratuities
Tipping is customary in South Africa. A guideline for visitors is the following: Porters R5 per item, taxis 10%, waiters and waitresses in restaurants 10-15%.
South Africa has a well developed banking system. All major credit cards can be used. Remember to notify your bank in advance that you will be travelling. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are available in all large towns and all over the cities. ATMs are linked to all major international networks, and it is possible to draw currency from them. They accept Cirrus or Maestro cards as well as all major credit and debit cards. You will not be charged any fees over and above those levied by your own bank. Banks are generally open from 8.30am or 9am to 3.30pm Mondays to Fridays, and 8.30am to 11am on Saturdays. Branches at airports adjust their hours to accommodate international flights.
As a visitor to South Africa, you can spend as little as R250.00 on goods intended for export, and claim a VAT refund. The user-friendly procedure allows you to claim your money before you even leave South African territory.