Travelling With Children To South Africa

South Africa's immigration laws have recently undergone revision, with vital amendments that you need to know about if travelling with children under the age of 18. Parents travelling with children will now be required to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children.

This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children. When children are travelling with guardians, one parent or other adults (i.e. Grandparents) these adults are required to produce affidavits from the parents proving permission for the children to travel. This is effective from 01 June 2015.

The details can be found in our PDF to download: Travelling with children to South Africa

Full details are also presented below.

South Africa – Travelling With Children

South Africa's immigration laws have recently undergone an intense revision, with two vital amendments that you need to know about if travelling with children under the age of 18:

1. Any traveller requiring a visa, will now have to apply in person at the relevant South African authority (effective 01 July 2014). This does not apply to countries who do not require a visa for South Africa, including the UK, EU, USA, Australia, Brazil and Chile.

2. Parents travelling with children will now be required to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children. This applies even when both parents are travelling with their children. When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel. This is effective from 01 June 2015 (two grace periods have now been granted on the original implementation date of 01 July 2014). If you are in direct transit in South Africa (ie on a through ticket to another country, so you don't clear immigration and customs), we understand that these regulations do not apply. Similarly if you are travelling from a country that requires a visa to visit South Africa, we understand that these regulations do not apply. See - http://www.home-affairs.gov.za

Please Note - An unabridged birth certificate can take weeks to obtain. Airlines will not allow clients to board without the necessary documentation.

The intention behind the ruling is admirable - to stop child trafficking - however the implementation of these regulations has been problematic, and the tourism industry is still in talks with the SA Government on this issue. However, we/you (the traveller) must be prepared for the implementation of these regulations.

The full South African immigration regulations concerning travelling with children are:

Regulation 6: (12)

(a) Where parents are travelling with a child, such parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.

(b) In the case of one parent travelling with a child, he or she must produce an unabridged birth certificate and:
(i) consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with;
(ii) a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child; or
(iii) where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate;

Provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.

(c) Where a person is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, he or she must produce-
(i) a copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child;
(ii) an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child;
(iii) copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child; and
(iv) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child, Provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.

(d) Any unaccompanied minor shall produce to the immigration officer-
(i) proof of consent from one of or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from the Republic: Provided that in the case where 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;
(ii) a letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will be residing;
(iii) a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic; and
(iv) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

Department of Home Affairs Tel + 27 (0)12 810 8911 - www.dha.gov.za

Frequently Asked Questions

a) what do the regulations say about parents travelling with children?

Regulation 6 (12)(a):

Where parents are travelling with a child, such parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.

1. What is an unabridged birth certificate?
It is a birth certificate reflecting the particulars of both parents.

2. Is this applicable to all children?
Yes, the South African regulations regard a child as any person under the age of 18 years. It is applicable to all nationalities departing from and arriving in South Africa. It is not required for passengers remaining in transit, unless he/she requires a transit visa (not applicable to UK passport holders). The unabridged certificate should be submitted during the transit visa application process and both the certificate and visa should be carried on person whilst travelling.

3. What about unabridged birth certificates or other documents that are not issued in English?
All documents issued in a language other than English should be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.

4. What about countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates?
In the case of foreign countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country should be produced.

5. Must I travel with the original document?
A copy is sufficient as per the regulations. It must be certified as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths (or the equivalent, should Commissioners of Oaths not be a practice in the country concerned). A certified copy must be no older than 3 months, dating from the time of travel.

b) what do the regulations say about children travelling with one parent?

Regulation 6 (12)(b):

In the case of one parent travelling with a child, he or she must produce an unabridged birth certificate and:

Consent, in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child, authorizing him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic of South Africa with the child he or she is travelling with; A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child; or where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate, provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her his or her parents, approve such a person to enter or depart the Republic with such a child.

6. What is the time line for the affidavit?
The affidavit must be no older than 3 months, dating from the time of travel.

7. My country does not issue affidavits. Which alternative do I have?
A document with the parents’ name and surname, physical address, telephone and cell phone numbers would be sufficient. A letter from the Government of the country concerned confirming non- issuance of affidavits must be included.

c) What do the regulations say about persons travelling with a child who is not their biological child?

Regulation 6 (12)(c):

Where a person is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child, he or she must produce:

A copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child; An affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child; Copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child; and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child, provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her his or her parents, approve such a person to enter or depart the Republic with such a child.

Questions and answers 1 - 7 also apply.

8. Does this include children travelling with school groups and grandparents?
Yes, any child under the age of 18 travelling with a person other than his / her parents must be in possession of the above documentation.

9. Is a copy of the unabridged birth certificate sufficient or must it be the original?
A copy is sufficient as per the regulations. It must be certified as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths (or the equivalent, should Commissioners of Oaths not be a practice in the country concerned). A certified copy must be no older than 3 months, dating from the time of travel.

10. Must the copies of the parents’ passports / ID’s be certified?
They must be certified as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths (or the equivalent, should Commissioners of Oaths not be a practice in the country concerned). A certified copy must be no older than 3 months, dating from the time of travel.

11. In what format must the contact details of the parents be?
A document with the parents’ name and surname, physical address, telephone and cell phone numbers would be sufficient.

12. How do you obtain approval from the Director General when you do not reside in South Africa?
Through the nearest South African diplomatic or consular representative abroad.

d) What do the regulations say about children travelling as unaccompanied minors?

Regulation 6 (12)(d):

Any unaccompanied minor shall produce to the immigration officer:

Proof of consent from one or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from the Republic: Provided that in the case where 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; A letter from the person which is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his or her residential address and contact details 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 in the Republic; and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

Questions and answers 1 - 12 also apply.

13. What is the age for an Unaccompanied Minor in this case?
Any child under 18 travelling by themselves will be seen as an unaccompanied minor by Immigration. This does not affect the airline’s Unaccompanied Minor policy and procedure.

14. In Regulation 6 (12)(d), points (i) and (ii) refer to a letter. Must this letter be certified?
It must be certified as the original or as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths (or the equivalent, should Commissioners of Oaths not be a practice in the country concerned). A certified copy must be no older than 3 months, dating from the time of travel.

15. Must the consent be from one parent or both?
It must be from both parents as per the regulations.

e) What do the regulations say about two unused pages in the passport?

Regulation 2 (1) (d):

Passengers travelling to South Africa must be in possession of a passport with two unused pages required for endorsements. The two unused pages when presented for purposes of endorsing a port of entry visa, visa, permanent residence permit or entry of departure stamp.

16. Is this for all passengers travelling to South Africa?
The two unused passport pages specifically pertain to foreign passports (non-South African); These must be visa pages; The requirement does not apply to foreigners who are in possession of valid permanent residence permits in South Africa; The first unused page in a foreigner’s passport is used for the issuing of a visa, if required, by a South African mission abroad or by the Department’s Head Office in South Africa (the latter in the case of an extended stay); The second page is used by Immigration at the South African port of entry for endorsing the arrival or departure stamp and, in the case of foreigners not requiring a visa, a port of entry visa (one page required for both arrival and departure stamps and port of entry visa).

f) What will happen to a passenger not in possession of these documents?

Regulation 6 (9):

When examining a person before his or her departure from the Republic, an immigration officer shall ensure that the person is not:

a fugitive from justice; or the subject of a court order that orders the Department to prevent his or her departure.

Regulation 6 (10):

Any child who is in alternative care as defined in the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005) shall, before departing from the Republic, produce a certified copy of an authorization letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act.

Regulation 6 (9):

When examining a person before his or her departure from the Republic, an immigration officer shall ensure that the person is not:

17. What will happen if we don’t have the required documentation at the time of check-in?
Your airline are bound by the South African Immigration regulations and must act accordingly. Travellers not in possession of the required documentation will not be allowed to travel.

These regulations are applicable to all passengers arriving or departing South Africa.

g) What must I do if I am declared undesirable?

Persons who are declared undesirable persons in terms of Section 30(1)(h) read with 50(1) of the Immigration Act, no 13 of 2002 as amended (no. 13 of 2011) must submit the written representative as indicated below.

The following documents must be submitted:

Written representation; A copy of the declaration of undesirability (form 19) that was issued at the Port of Entry; A copy of the relevant pages of the passport, including bio page; Acknowledgment of receipt ( in cases where the applicant has applied for a permit and the status is still pending); If the applicant overstayed due to medical reasons, a medical certificated must be submitted.

The appeal must be e-mailed to: [email protected]

For confirmation that the appeal has been received, applicants may contact the IMS Operational Centre on (012) 406-4586.

h) Who can I speak to if I have further questions?

If you have any further questions relating to these regulations, please contact:

The South African Department of Home Affairs, 0800 60 11 90 (toll free from South Africa); or your local South African Embassy; or Africa Collection, 01403 256655, and we will de our best to assist.

Please Note - Africa Collection has produced this guide to the new Immigration Regulations in an attempt to clarify the situation. However, Africa Collection is in no way responsible for the Act and the new Immigration Regulations. Africa Collection will endeavour to communicate any new amendments to the regulations in a timely manner, however, Africa Collection accepts no liability for any inaccuracies in the content.