Yellow fever certificates | Western Cape Government

Yellow fever certificates


Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. It’s called yellow fever because when the virus attacks the liver, the patient's skin and eyes turn yellow. 

To prevent the spread of yellow fever, travellers entering and leaving countries affected by yellow fever need to be vaccinated against the virus. The risk of contracting yellow fever differs due to various factors, including the:  

  • season, Yellow fever vaccinations
  • destination, 
  • type of activities undertaken, and 
  • length of your stay.

Vaccinated travellers should still be careful to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. This will ensure additional protection not only against yellow fever, but also against a number of other infections transmitted by mosquitoes, such as malaria and dengue fever.

Symptoms include:

  • the sudden onset of fever and shivers,
  • headaches,
  • muscle pain (with prominent back pain),
  • abdominal pains,
  • nausea and/or vomiting,
  • loss of appetite,
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), and/or
  • bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes or stomach.

If you develop any of these signs or symptoms, you should contact your nearest health care facility and provide them with your full travel history. 


What’s a yellow fever certificate?

International law requires travellers crossing the borders of countries where yellow fever is endemic to have yellow fever vaccinations. After you’ve been vaccinated, you’ll be issued with a yellow fever certificate.

The certificate only becomes valid 10 days after vaccination, and stays valid for the duration of the life of the person vaccinated. 

If you’ve travelled in a yellow fever region, in the six days before you wish to visit South Africa, you’ll have to show your yellow fever certificate when you enter the country. 

Yellow Fever Certificate

Is anyone exempt from the vaccination?

There is no specific treatment, but vaccination is very effective. The single-dose vaccine against yellow fever is 100% safe and effective. It’s recommended for the majority of persons older than 9 months.

You and your children are exempt from the vaccine if:

  • your children are younger than 9 months,
  • you’re older than 60 years of age (especially if they’ve never had the vaccine before),
  • you’re pregnant or breastfeeding,
  • you have a weakened immune system, or if
  • you’re allergic to eggs.

Note: You’ll still have to get a certificate from the vaccination centre saying that you’ve been exempted.

What happens if you don’t have the certificate?

If you arrive in South Africa without a valid yellow fever certificate, you’ll either be:

  • denied entry, or
  • quarantined until your certificate becomes valid, or for a period of not more than 6 days.

Note: Those with an exemption certificate due to medical reasons may be allowed entry and required to report any fever or other symptoms to the health authorities and be placed under surveillance.

If there’s no Port Health officer at the point where you enter the country, you’ll be refused entry into South Africa.

Yellow fever regions

International regulations require proof of yellow fever vaccination for travel to and from certain countries. The following countries are yellow fever regions and travellers are required to provide officials with a yellow fever certificate. 

Angola Democratic Republic of the Congo Mali Trinidad and Tobago
Argentina Ecuador Mauritania Uganda
Benin Equatorial Guinea Niger Venezuela
Bolivia Ethiopia Nigeria  
Brazil French Guyana Panama  
Burkina Faso Gabon Paraguay  
Burundi Gambia Peru  
Cameroon Ghana Rwanda  
Central African Republic Guinea Senegal  
Chad Guinea-Bissau Sierra Leone  
Colombia Guyana Sudan  
Congo Kenya Suriname  
Cote d'lvoire Liberia Togo  


Vaccination is the single most important measure for preventing yellow fever. So, before your next business trip or vacation, make sure if you’re required to get vaccinated against yellow fever and/or any other harmful diseases that you do so well in advance.

Here’s some more information that can help you stay safe and healthy:

Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 6 August 2019