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South African Immigration Laws for Travelling Children
What you need to know about minors journeying to and from SA.
Last update: 10 June 2019
In 2014, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) confirmed that new laws impacting both local and international families looking to travel with children to or from South Africa for brief periods would come into effect. These legal amendments were part of a broader immigration regulation overhaul initiated by the DHA on 26 May 2014.
Specifically, the legislation stated that parents or guardians moving into or out of the country with children under the age of 18 years must be able to present an official unabridged birth certificate (or certified copy thereof) for each child, along with passports and travel documents.
While these laws have been relaxed since they were initially implemented, here's what you need to know.
SOUTH AFRICAN LAWS FOR TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN
1. Parents travelling with a child must present an official unabridged birth certificate for the minor that includes the particulars of both the mother and father (this is alongside the child’s passport and return flight ticket).
2. If only one parent is moving across the SA border with a child, he or she must present the youngster’s unabridged birth certificate as well as:
- a) an affidavit from the other parent stating that the child is allowed to travel with the first parent,
- b) if divorced or separated, a court order showing that he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights for the child or
- c) if widowed, the death certificate of the other parent.
3. If a person is travelling with a minor who is not their own biological offspring, they must produce a copy of the child’s unabridged birth certificate as well as:
- a) an affidavit from both parents or the legal guardian(s) of the child granting the person permission to travel with their minor AND copies of the IDs/passports of both parents/legal guardian(s) AND the contact details of the parents/legal guardian(s) or
- b) if the person in question is the legal guardian of the child, a court ordering proving legal guardianship.
4. If a minor is travelling unaccompanied, they must produce:
- a) an affidavit from both parents/the legal guardian(s) stating that the child has permission to travel,
- b) the contact details of the parents/guardians,
- c) a letter from the person who will collect the child on the other side, with address and contact details included AND
- d) a copy of the ID/passport and visa of the person who will collect the minor on arrival.
- *e) if only one parent signs an affidavit granting the child permission to travel, the minor must also produce a copy of a court order showing that that parent has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights for the child.
APPLYING FOR AN UNABRIDGED BIRTH CERTIFICATE IN SOUTH AFRICA
All babies born after 4 March 2013 would have been issued unabridged birth certificates by the DHA (if their parents registered them). However, all under-18s born before this date would have been given abridged versions, and thus their parents will need to apply for an unabridged replacement. This process costs around R75 and can take up to six weeks to complete – something to bear in mind if you plan on travelling soon.
To apply, the parent(s)/guardian(s) of the under-18 should bring their identity documents and the child’s abridged birth certificate to any DHA office. If the parents are not married, both should be present; if they are married, one parent can apply, but he or she must present their marriage certificate too.
For all other questions regarding application, contact the DHA directly on +27 (0) 800 601 1190.
APPLYING FOR AN UNABRIDGED BIRTH CERTIFICATE OUTSIDE OF SOUTH AFRICA
Foreigners should note that an unabridged birth certificate is simply a legal birth certificate that details the particulars of the parents. If a child’s birth certificate already does this, there is no need to apply for a new one. What’s more, if the minor’s passport lists these particulars, this is also acceptable.
The above considered, those who do still need to apply for an unabridged certificate can do so at the responsible authority in their country of origin.
Note: A certified copy of the unabridged birth certificate is acceptable in all cases above too.
Read more about other 2014 changes to South African immigration law.
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