Travelling with children under SA’s new immigration laws

July 1, 2014

LATEST UPDATE: Government has suggested some changes to these laws, but South African parents travelling with their children would still need to travel with the dreaded “unabridged birth certificate”. However now it will be referred to as a “birth certificate containing parental details”. In addition to this they also metioned plans to print parental details in a child’s passport, so that parents can travel without the unabridged birth certificate. No dates as of when this will be possible have been released yet. Please note that all suggested changes are not in effect as of yet!

UPDATE: This was postponed until the 1st of June 2015.

In a bid to combat the very real threat of child trafficking South Africa’s new Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, has introduced new regulations regarding children travelling across South African borders to the Immigration Act. These laws are applicable to everyone (both South African and internationals) travelling from South Africa from the 1st of October 2014. Please note that in all instances ‘parent’ refers to the person recognised on the unabridged birth certificate and not necessarily biological parents. South African law stipulates that a child is anyone under the age of 18 years.

Requirements if both birth certificate parents are travelling with the child

The parents must be able to produce an unabridged birth certificate for each child they are travelling with. Both parents as recognised on the birth certificate must accompany the child out of the country. (Regulation 6(12)(a))

Requirements if only one of the birth certificate parents are travelling with the child

In addition to the unabridged birth certificate that the parent must be able to produce for each child they are travelling with, they will also require:

Written consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent. (Regulation 6(12)(b)(i))

If the other parent refuses to give consent or isn’t capable of giving consent, a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the legal guardian of the child.  (Regulation 6(12)(b)(ii))

If the other parent as recognised on the unabridged birth certificate is deceased then the death certificate of that parent will be sufficient. (Regulation 6(12)(b)(iii))

If both parents are deceased

The Director-General may approve the entrance or departure of such a child from the Republic as long as they are in the care of a family member or another person related to him or the parents. (Regulation 6(12).

Requirements if you are travelling with a child who you are not related to or not recognised on the birth certificate as a parent

In addition to the unabridged birth certificate that the adult must be able to produce for each child they are travelling with, they will also require

An affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he/she has their permission to travel with the child.

Copies of the ID’s or Passports of the parents (as per birth certificate) or legal guardians of the child.

The contact details of both parents or the legal guardian of the child.

Unaccompanied Minor

Proof of consent from both of the child’s parents or legal guardians is required. If only one parent gives consent he or she need to 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. In addition to this you’ll also requre:

A letter from the person that is to receive the child in the Replublic he is travelling to with his contact details and the address where the child will be residing.

A copy of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic’s ID or valid Passport and Visa or permanent residence permit.

The contact details of the parent or legal guardian.

Please note that where the law specifically stipulates that copies are acceptable they refer to certified copies. Only when they specifically refer to a copy do you not require the original document. At this moment it appears they will not accept a certified copy of the unabridged birth certificate, but require the original document. The unabridged birth certificate is different to a regular birth certificate and takes approximately 6 weeks to acquire from Home Affairs. When applying for a Schengen Visa for your children you will also require an unabridged birth certificate so many of you might already have it.

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