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South Africa's New Child Travel Laws Explained

To ensure your holiday isn't over before it begins, read First Car Rental's guide on the new child travel regulations

On 1 June 2015, new child travel rules were implemented by the South African Home Affairs Department in an effort to combat child trafficking.

These regulations apply to South Africans as well as foreign nationals, and mean that travellers will be required to produce further documentation in addition to passports and visas (where applicable) when entering or leaving South Africa with children under 18 years old.

Sections covered in this guide:

  • Unabridged Birth Certificates
  • How to apply for an Unabridged Birth Certificate
  • Documents required - both parents travelling with children
  • Documents required - one parent travelling with children
  • Documents required - children travelling with an adult that is not their parent
  • Documents required - children travelling alone
  • Parent consent letter or affidavit
  • Important contacts

Unabridged Birth Certificate

The first requirement for anyone travelling with children, whether parents of the child, relatives, family friends or school teachers, is that an Unabridged Birth Certificate be produced at the South African border for each child traveller. This is in addition to the child's passport and travel visa (where applicable).

An Unabridged Birth Certificate contains details of both parents of the child. All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 were automatically issued with a valid Unabridged Birth Certificate free of charge. Children borne before 14 March 2013 were automatically issued with a standard Abridged Birth Certificate showing only their mother's name.

International travellers and unabridged birth certificates

Foreign children travelling to South Africa will need a legal document, issued by the relevant authority in their home country, containing information similar to South Africa's Unabridged Birth Certificate, including details of both parents.

In the case of countries that do not issue similar documents to the Unabridged Birth Certificate, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country will need to be produced. For the correct format of this letter (published by Home Affairs), click here.

In cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.

Adopted children

In cases where a child is adopted, the parents of the child will need to produce proof of adoption by means of an official adoption certificate in addition to the child's Unabridged Birth Certificate.

Applying for your child's Unabridged Birth Certificate

If you're planning a holiday outside of South Africa, make sure to apply for your child's Unabridged Birth Certificate well in advance of your departure date. The time frame to acquire an Unabridged Birth Certificate from the date of application varies greatly, from a few weeks to several months.

To apply:

  • Visit your nearest Home Affairs office in South Africa or South African embassy, mission or consulate if you are overseas.
  • Fill out Form BI-154. Original application forms can only be obtained from the relevant Home Affairs office or South African embassy, mission or consulate.
  • Make sure to take your ID book along, as well as your child's ID number.
  • All documents submitted must be originals or certified copies (please note - certified copies of documents are only valid for 6 months).
  • There is a R75 fee for the Unabridged Birth Certificate.

Child-travel situations and the documents required:

1. Both parents travelling with one or more of their children

In the instance where both South African or foreign national parents are travelling together with one or more of their children, they will need to produce:

  • A passport and/or visa for each traveller, including every child.
  • An Unabridged Birth Certificate, or foreign equivalent, for each child.

2. One parent travelling together with one or more of their children

If only one parent is travelling with a child, whether the child is a South African citizen or from elsewhere, more documents will need to be presented at South Africa's border post.

The documents required are:

  • A passport and/or visa for each traveller, including every child.
  • An Unabridged Birth Certificate, or foreign equivalent, for every child.
  • A recently dated letter or affidavit of consent from the non-travelling parent registered on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from South Africa with the child. (The affidavit must not be older than three months).
  • A certified copy of the non-travelling parent's ID or passport. (This certified copy must not be older than six months).
  • In the instance where it is not possible to produce a letter or affidavit of consent, the parent must alternatively show either a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of any child to the travelling parent; or a death certificate of the other parent registered on the birth certificate.
  • In the instance when the father of the child is unknown, the mother will need to provide an affidavit saying that she is solely responsible for the child.

For Home Affairs Department’s suggested format for a parental letter of consent or affidavit, click here.

3. Child travellers accompanied by an adult that is not their parent

When a child is travelling with an adult that is not their parent or legal guardian, the following documents must be produced at South Africa's border post:

  • A passport and/or visa for each traveller, including every child.
  • An Unabridged Birth Certificate, or foreign equivalent, for each child.
  • A recently dated letter or affidavit of consent from the child's parents registered on the birth certificate of the child confirming that he / she has permission to travel without them - whether alone, or with a relative, school group or friends. (The affidavit must not be older than three months).
  • Where only one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide either a copy of a court order in terms of which he or she has full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child; or a death certificate of the other parent.
  • A certified copy of both parents' ID and passport. (These certified copies must not be older than six months).
  • The contact numbers of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

4. Children travelling alone

When a child is entering or leaving South Africa unaccompanied by any adult, they must produce:

  • His or her passport and/or visa.
  • His or her Unabridged Birth Certificate, or foreign equivalent.
  • Proof of consent from both parents or legal guardian in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa.
  • Where only one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide a copy of a court order issued to him or her in terms of which he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child; or a death certificate of the other parent.
  • A certified copy of ID or passport from both parents (These certified copies must not be older than six months).
  • The contact numbers of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
  • A letter from the person who is to receive her or him in South Africa containing that person's residential address and contact details in South Africa where the child will be residing;
  • A copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child;

Use The Correct Documents

There have been a number of reports regarding families who were refused entry into or exit out of South Africa due to not providing the correct-format letter or affidavit of consent.

  • To view and download the correct affidavit of consent (as published by the South African Home Affairs Department), please click here.
  • For foreign nationals, to view and download the correct letter equivalent of a South African Unabridged Birth Certificate, please click here.

Important Contacts

Before travelling, it's highly recommended that you consult the South African embassy in your home country, in order to ensure that you meet all relevant criteria. Alternatively, consult South Africa Home Affairs for more information on South Africa's new child travel requirements.

  • Department of Home Affairs website: http://www.dha.gov.za/
  • Department of Home Affairs toll free hotline: 0800 60 11 90

PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page is a guide to assist people with new South African immigration laws. The information was correct at the time of publishing; First Car Rental takes no responsibility for any of the information being out of date or incorrectly noted.

Update:

Home Affairs on immigration amendment acts and regulations

 

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