TRAVELLERS RESOURCES

Watch our video below for Covid-19 travel requirements

What travellers should know?

If you are travelling out of South Africa by air, road, rail or sea, many destination countries require travellers to provide the following before leaving the country and arriving at your destination country:

  • A negative SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR (COVID-19 RT-PCR) test result
  • Your sample for the COVID-19 RT-PCR test must be collected and tested within 48 or 72 hours prior to your departure/border crossing, depending on the requirements of the final destination country
  • Your test must be performed by a SANAS accredited laboratory
  • If travelling to China, in addition to the above, you are also required to have a negative COVID-19 IgM Antibody test result

As a SANAS accredited and ISO-certified medical pathology laboratory, Ampath Laboratories performs COVID-19 RT-PCR tests and COVID-19 IgM Antibody tests for Travellers on a self-referral basis.

What to do if you require a COVID-19 PCR test for travel purposes:

  1. The SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and COVID-19 IgM Antibody test results take 24 to 48 hours from the time the samples reach the testing laboratory.
  2. To meet the COVID-19 test travel time requirements, kindly ensure that the date and time of your specimen collection, testing and reporting of your test results, is within 72 hours of your departure date and time.

  3. Please note that some countries such as China, require that collection be as soon as 48 hours prior to departure, it is recommended to check the requirements of the final destination country.

  4. Find an Ampath designated COVID-19 sample collection site nearest to your location here
  5. If travelling to China, print and complete the Ampath Laboratories Travel COVID-19 Test Request Forms for China that corresponds with the consular district of the Chinese Embassy that you are dealing with, and, a Contact tracing form prior to visiting an Ampath designated sample collection site
  6. For all other countries requiring a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR test, print and complete this Ampath Laboratories Travellers COVID-19 PCR test request form and Contact tracing form prior to visiting an Ampath designated sample collection site
  7. Traveller COVID-19 RT-PCR tests cost R500.00, the COVID-19 IgM Antibody test costs R274.10 and the COVID Antigen test costs R150.00. These must be paid for upfront, prior to having your sample taken, by either:
    • EFT - Provide Proof of Payment and use your SA ID number or Passport number as a reference number. Click here
    • Credit / Debit Card
    • Cash - a receipt will be provided
  8. When you arrive at the sample collection site:
    • Please wear your mask at all times
    • Sanitise your hands on arrival and when you leave
    • You may be required to complete an electronic order by the staff on-site
    • A nasopharyngeal swab will be collected for a COVID-19 RT-PCR test and if required, a COVID-19 Antigen test. A blood sample will be collected if your destination country requires a COVID-19 IgM Antibody test.
  9. Please register for our Ampath Patients Results App as you will receive your test results for your COVID-19 RT-PCR, COVID-19 Antigen test and COVID-19 IgM antibody test on your Ampath Patient Results App as soon as they have been checked and signed out by a pathologist. Should you require an original hard copy result, you can pick this up from your nearest Ampath Depot.
  10. VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

  11. Please note that destination countries that you are travelling to have their own COVID-19 test regulations and requirements that may differ to those required by South Africa. It is therefore important that you determine what the requirements are for your destination country when you book your trip. As some countries may require that your COVID-19 RT-PCR test be performed within 48 or 72 hours of arriving in their country, this could affect the time period within which you will have to have your COVID-19 RT-PCR test performed prior to your departure.

    Please note: If travelling to China, you require both a COVID-19 RT-PCR test and a COVID-19 IgM Antibody test. The collection of your test samples, the testing and reporting of results must be within 48 hours of your departure. Therefore you need to have your sample taken as close as possible to 48 hours prior to your departure.

    The IATA COVID-19 Travel Regulations Map provides some information on different countries COVID-19 regulations.


  12. Documentation you may require for your destination country:

  13. Contact your nearest Ampath Depot for the following documents should they be required by other countries:

How is a COVID-19 RT-PCR test result interpreted for the purposes of travelling?

Authorities will interpret a positive PCR test result as indicating a current SARS-CoV-2 infection and you will not be permitted to travel. Many persons with COVID do not have any symptoms, hence it is possible that you may test positive but be completely well. Any person testing positive will need to self-isolate for 10 days and be notified to the local Department of Health authorities.

A negative PCR test result will be interpreted as you not being infected with SARS-CoV-2, and if you are completely well, you should be allowed to travel. Should you have any COVID-like symptoms or have been in recent contact with a person with COVID, it is essential that you inform local travel authorities as you should not travel and you may need a follow up PCR test to confirm or exclude COVID.

For Travellers to China, a negative COVID-19 IgM Antibody test result will be required in addition to a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR result to be permitted to travel.

Ampath wishes you a safe and COVID-19 free journey.

Do you know how to confirm the validity of a COVID-19 test report?

Our informative guideline shares more detail on unique identifiers that will help confirm a valid COVID-19 test report for travel and other purposes.