SA travel news: Travelling with children

28 April 2015

Are you planning to travel with children under the age of 18 years in to and out of South Africa later this year? Then you best be aware that, in addition to a valid passport, you’re going to need to a lot more paperwork from 1 June 2015.

The South African Department of Home Affairs’ new strict rules for travelling with minors will come into effect on that day.

South African Passport Photo courtesy of South African Tourism

The regulations – which require all adults travelling with children to produce a copy of an unabridged birth certificate, among other documents, for each child they are travelling with – apply to all nationalities. It is being implemented to counter child abduction and human trafficking.

The birth certificate should identify the parents of the child by name. If an original cannot be produced, a certified copy can be provided, but the certification must be less than three months old.

In the event that the birth certificate is not in one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, which includes English, travellers will need to provide an English translation from an accredited translator.

In the instance where one parent is travelling with a child for any reason, whether as a single parent, or merely in the absence of the other parent, the following documents must be produced for immigration officials:

- A copy of an unabridged birth certificate

- An affidavit from the other parent or legal guardian of the child, confirming their consent for the accompanying adult to travel with the child. The affidavit must contain full names and passport details of both parents registered on the birth certificate and child(ren), with contact details for any non-travelling parent. The document should also specify the travel destinations of the parent and child(ren).

- Single parents are required to produce a court order (granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he/she is the parent or legal guardian of the child)

- If applicable, a death certificate of a deceased parent must be produced

The legal documents or certified copies of the documents cannot be more than three months old. If there is only one parent registered on the birth certificate, that person has sole responsibility.

Non-compliance from 1 June 2015 is likely to result in airlines refusing to allow travellers to board flights or being turned back at the border, and possibly fined.

For information on requirements pertaining to this and other situations such as legal guardianship or unaccompanied travelling minors, please visit the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website before travelling. This information is also available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (refer to the ‘entry and exit’ tab).

We recommend you check the child visa checklist here.

A detailed Q&A is available on the South African Airways website here.

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