Staying Safe While Traveling During Civil Unrest | Allianz Travel

Keeping safe during demonstrations or social unrest when traveling abroad

Civil unrest is a conflict between different groups living in the same country. It can be both peaceful and violent. It can range from a few individuals at a small local protest to thousands of people at a massive demonstration.
  • Marching is when groups of people walk through the streets together. Their destination may be a rally or a picket line.

  • Rallies are gatherings of people who meet at a particular spot to hear speakers.

  • Pickets and sit-ins are actions in which people surround, occupy, or block off a specific place.

  • Riots occur when demonstrators become violent against individuals or property.

People may march, rally, or protest for a variety of reasons.

  • Labor disagreements. Protesters may demand that businesses or politicians improve salaries or working conditions.

  • Protests on social or political issues, including taxation, violence, human rights, equality, and the environment, are all common topics worldwide.

  • Political gatherings are when people congregate or march in favor of a political party or an ideal. Some groups advocate for principles at the far reaches of the political spectrum.

  • Avoid all protests, demonstrations, and rallies. Even peaceful gatherings can devolve into violence without warning.

  • Register your details and travel arrangements with the South African Department of International Relations to receive assistance and guidance if civil upheaval occurs in your vacation location.

  • Determine whether certain places or regions are more prone to disturbance. Avoid those regions if at all possible.

  • Keep an eye on what's going on in your destination. Keep an eye on local and international media for information about potential safety or security threats.

  • Check to see whether your destination has an impending election. Unrest and violent protests are possible during election seasons.

  • Determine whether there is an upsurge in tension surrounding contentious social or political issues that can lead to unrest.

  • Learn about the history of your destination. Unrest frequently happens around the anniversaries of significant events, particularly those that are politically or socially controversial.

  • Keep in mind that developments in one country can cause turmoil in another. When demonstrations in an area take place, it may disrupt your travel plans.

  • The freedom to peaceful protest is a crucial aspect of democracy in South Africa and worldwide. Many countries, however, do not recognize this freedom. You could be arrested or imprisoned if you participate in a rally in another country.

  • If you wish to engage in a protest abroad, first learn the local laws. Always check to see if the event you're attending is legal.

  • Protesting or demonstrating is prohibited in various countries. Although freedom of expression and association is a fundamental right, many countries have laws that limit or prohibit it. Before you travel, learn about the laws of your location.

  • There may be a legal procedure to obtain permission (or a permit). Before you go, find out if the authorities have permitted the event.

  • Some countries prohibit protests, especially around government institutions like military sites. Private companies such as medical services or mining sites can also be located in protest exclusion zones. 

  • Be mindful that even being in the wrong place at the wrong time can cause problems. Authorities might deem you a protester because you are close, watching, or taking photos even if you didn't participate.

  • If you are arrested or imprisoned in another country, the South African government has limited options for assisting you.

  • Read the recommendations the Department of International Relations and Cooperation issued to find out what services South Africans arrested or detained overseas can expect.

" Registration of South Africans Abroad" is ROSA's abbreviation. To make it easier to get help in times of emergency, South Africans traveling abroad are encouraged to register their personal information and travel plans with the South African Department of International Relations. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation also offers a free consultation when you register. Citizens of South Africa planning to travel, reside, or work outside the country should complete the registration process.

A rising number of South Africans who have been victims of crime or accident, illness or death, or natural or manufactured catastrophe have been helped by our missions abroad. The Department of International Relations also supports loved ones who need to contact them in an emergency.

In an emergency, registering your trip will help the Department locate you, check your status, and communicate with your next-of-kin. Note that your personal information will only be accessed in a consular emergency.

When planning your trip, you should include registration as an essential aspect of your security and planning.


Social unrest is typically not covered in standard travel insurance policies. You may need to buy additional coverage or a specific policy if you're planning to travel to a country where there is potential for civil unrest or political violence.

That said, when you're traveling, the last thing you want to worry about is being in an accident and not having the funds to cover your medical expenses. That's where travel insurance comes in. Travel Insurance can provide peace of mind while you're on your trip by helping to cover the costs of medical care, lost luggage, and other unexpected events.

Though it can be a hassle to follow all the safety guidelines when traveling, doing so will help protect you from becoming a victim of unrest or other forms of civil strife. By familiarizing yourself with the tips we've provided and registering your personal information with ROSA, you'll have peace of mind knowing that you're taking all the necessary precautions to safeguard yourself while abroad.