Last updated: 18 Oct 2021

Britain / United Kingdom


Although it is relatively small size, the United Kingdom is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world, peopled by four main ‘native’ nationalities, plus later arrivals from all over the world. The United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland is comprised of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The UK is also a geographically diverse country, with such landscapes as the rolling moors of Yorkshire, the lakes and mountains of the Lake District and Scotland, and the ancient forests of Nottinghamshire or the stunning beaches of Wales. All this, as well as genteel villages with chocolate-box cottages or vibrant cities at the forefront of modernity, means the UK has something to offer everyone.

Visit London's huge range of museums, historic houses, churches and galleries, or spend time in its vast choice of shops and markets. Visit the crown jewels in the Tower of London, an essential part of London life for almost a thousand years and still standing.

From Big Ben to Canterbury Cathedral, Eton College to the universities of Cambridge & Oxford, Wembley Stadium to Lord’s Cricket Ground, Stonehenge to Tower Bridge, the list goes on...
Official Name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Union of: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Capital:  London (LON)
Currency:  British Pound (GBP), also known as Pound Sterling. Scottish Pounds are also widely accepted.  
Language:  English, Welsh, Gaelic, Scots.
Dialling code from SA:  + 44
Time Zones: No UTC / GMT offset (2 hours behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: From last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October: UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)
Public Holidays 2021: 

Jan 1; Apr 2; May 3, 31; Dec 25-28 (Individual countries within UK may have additional holidays)

Side of the Road: Left
Best Time to Go: Year-Round. Winters are chilly and can be rainy, but hotel rates are better during the off season (November – March, excluding Christmas and New Year). July and August are peak seasons. 
Best for: Architecture through the Ages, Royal Attractions, National Parks
Plugs: 230 volts AC, 50Hz. Square three-pin plugs are standard
Drinking Water: Mains water in hotels and towns is safe to drink. Bottled water is widely available. 
Health: There are adequate and well-equipped medical facilities, however visitors are required to pay for these services. Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. If you would like to bring medication on your travels, it is best to bring it in the original packaging, with a signed and dated letter from your doctor detailing exactly what it is and why you need it. If you require medication on your travels, you should bring a doctors certificate. 
Customs: The local etiquette on escalators is: stand on the right, walk on the left. This is strictly followed.  Politeness, humour and irony are part of British communication – it is therefore important to “read between the lines”. Avoid insulting the monarchy. Some clubs and restaurants may have a dress code.
Local Offences / Laws: Smoking is banned in public areas. 
Travel Tips / Warnings: Avoid political protests, particularly in Northern Ireland.  If visiting Northern Ireland, check the local political situation. 
Duty Free: Goods obtained duty and tax paid in the EU are unlimited, as long as tax was paid in the country and they are for your own use. If you bring in more than the following, customs officials are more likely to ask the reason for holding the goods:
• 800 cigarettes or 400 cigarillos or 200 cigars or 1kg of tobacco.
• 90L of still wine.
• 110L of beer.
• 10L of alcoholic beverages stronger than 22% or 20L of fortified or sparkling wine or other liqueurs.

If you are arriving from a non-EU country, the following goods may be imported into the UK by persons over 17 years of age without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. These can be combined provided travellers do not exceed their total tobacco allowance.
• 4L of still wine.
• 1L of alcoholic beverages stronger than 22% or 2L of fortified or sparkling wine or other liqueurs. These can be combined provided travellers do not exceed their total alcohol allowance.
• 16L of beer.
• Other goods including souvenirs up to the value of £390 (or £270 if arriving by private plane or boat).

The Channel Islands and Gibraltar are treated as being outside of the EU for duty-free purposes.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited items include unlicensed drugs, offensive weapons, indecent and obscene material, counterfeit and pirated goods, and meat, dairy and other animal products from outside the EEA.

Restricted items include firearms, explosives and ammunition, live animals, endangered species, certain plants and their produce, certain fur skins, rough diamonds, and radio transmitters.

Travel Alerts

COVID-19 Travel Advisory: United Kingdom is open for travel, with health requirements.

Red Countries/Regions

  • Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela. 

Entry restrictions

  • Passengers are not permitted to enter the United Kingdom if they have travelled to or transited through any red countries/regions in the past 10 days.

Passenger Locator Form

  • Passengers must complete the mandatory digital Public Health Passenger Locator Form within 48 hours prior to departure for the United Kingdom. The form must be completed here and be presented prior to boarding. The PLF must contain the correct flight number and date.

  • Passengers who declare on their Passenger Locator Form that they meet the COVID-19 vaccination eligibility criteria for reduced isolation and testing (the Vaccination Exemption), must hold the necessary proof.

Testing requirements

  • Passengers aged 11 years or older travelling from outside of the Common Travel Area (United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands) to the United Kingdom must hold a negative Covid-19 test certificate (e.g. PCR, LAMP or antigen test) taken within 3 days prior to departure. The test may be in printed or digital copy, and in English, French, or Spanish. It must include the passenger's name, date of birth or age, test result, the date the test sample was collected or received, the details of the test provider, and the name of the test device. Passengers not holding the Covid-19 test will be subject to an immediate GBP£500 fine. It is the passenger's responsibility to ensure the test meets the minimum standards for sensitivity, specify and viral load details.

  • This does not apply to: Fully vaccinated passengers holding a digital or paper-based document proof of having received a full course of a Covid-19 vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel, provided they have not been in a Red List Country in the past 10 days prior to travel;

Rules applicable for England only  

  • Passengers travelling to England who have not been in a Red List Country in the 10 days prior to travel and who have been fully vaccinated must book and pay for a day 2 Covid-19 test to be taken after arrival.
  • Fully vaccinated passengers must hold digital or paper-based document proof of having received a full course of the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen vaccines at least 14 days prior to travel from an approved vaccination program in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, or a UK overseas vaccination programme. The document must be issued by a national or state-level public health body that includes the passengers' forename and surname(s), date of birth, vaccine brand and manufacturer, date of vaccination for every dose, country or territory of vaccination and/or certificate issuer. If the document does not include all of the required passenger details, or the passenger does not meet all the fully vaccinated rules, the passenger must follow the rules for non-vaccinated passengers or may be denied boarding.

This Information is intended as a Guideline.

Issuing Authorities

British High Commission, 255 Hill Street, Arcadia, PRETORIA, 0083.
Tel: (012) 421-7500
Fax: 0865355422

International enquiries:

An online visa application service called Access UK has been launched for South African passport holders to apply online. See

Northern Ireland
Visas are required by SA passport holders .
If travelling to Northern Ireland, via the United Kingdom, a full UK tourist visa is required (NOT A TRANSIT VISA). 

Visa Requirements

South African passport holders require a visa in order to visit or transit the United Kingdom.

Visa Application Centre: TLScontact
Web: /

Cape Town: Upper Ground Floor, Media Quarter Building, Corner of De Smit Street and Somerset Road, De Waterkant
Monday - Friday: 9:30 - 15:00

Durban: 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, 3rd Floor, The Atrium, Durban
Monday - Friday: 8:30 - 15:30

Johannesburg: 2nd - 3rd Floor, 24 Central Building, Gwen Lane and Fredman Drive, Sandton, Johannesburg
Monday - Friday: 8:30 - 15:30

Port Elizabeth: Ground Floor Building 66, Fairview Office Park, Greenacres, Port Elizabeth
Monday - Friday: 8:30 - 15:30

Pretoria (closed until further notice)
1st Floor, Menlyn Corner, Growth Point building, Corner of Lois/Atterbury Road, (Opposite to Menlyn Park Shopping Centre) Menlyn, Pretoria

Application Process

1. Apply online at

  • Fill out an online application form, pay the visa fee and book your appointment at a Visa Application Centre
  • Receive a unique GWF Number.

2. Book appointment through TLScontact

  • book and pay for an appointment to submit your biometrics and supporting evidence

3. Attend appointment at TLScontact

Ensure the following documents are brought with you

  • A printed copy of your appointment confirmation email
  • A printed receipt of payment for any Added Value Services (if applicable)
  • A valid passport or travel document and residence permit (both original and copy) in A4 format (if applicable)
  • Any supporting documents which you intend to supply (as well as copies of all originals in A4 format)
  • The first page of your Visa Application Form


- Documents must not be stapled
- Only A4 colored photocopied documents are accepted
- Do not submit originals or valuable documents, as these WILL NOT BE RETURNED

If you choose the self-upload service, you will have to organize and upload all your supporting evidence online, before attending your appointment


  • Valid passport (make sure there are 2 blank pages in the passport - these pages do not have to be consecutive)
  • Completed visa application form
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of employment
  • Proof of sufficient funds
  • Additional documents may be requested

Visa Processing Time

Please contact the High Commission for updates on processing time

Visa Cost

A Standard Visitor visa costs £95

SA Representative

South African High Commission
South Africa House, 9 Duncannon Street,
Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DP
Tel: (0044-207) 451-7299

Travel Health

Compulsory:  None
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis B, Tetanus, Polio