When planning to travel the world, you envision all the places you will go and the memories you will make. The last thing on your mind is all the red tape involved when crossing borders, especially when travelling with minors.
South Africa is no exception to the rest of the world with its strict travelling requirements and laws that are enforced.
Home Affairs aims to increase tourism to SA
On the 25th September 2018, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba announced that the travelling requirements for foreign minors entering South Africa will be relaxed in a bid to increase tourism.
Previously there have been strict requirements for minors coming into South Africa which were put in place to decrease human trafficking. This meant that minors travelling to South Africa had to produce an unabridged birth certificate or the equivalent thereof and additionally, what is known as a “parental consent affidavit” if one parent is absent while travelling.
Parental consent affidavit poses problems for single parents
Obtaining a parental consent affidavit may be difficult for those who are single parents. Where one parent wants to travel with a minor child and the parent is unable to obtain the consent of the other parent although all attempts has been made to locate the other parent, the single parent may write an affidavit and substantiate with evidence as to why the other parents’ consent cannot be obtained.
Alternatively the single parent must show either a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship related to their child. Where one of the parents is deceased, the death certificate of the deceased parent must be produced. This applies to children who are South African citizens as well as non-citizens.
Unaccompanied minor documents
Where a minor was travelling unaccompanied, the minor had to produce a valid passport; an unabridged birth certificate or the equivalent thereof, a parental consent affidavit; a letter from the person who is to receive the minor in South Africa containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in South Africa, a copy of the identity document or valid passport, and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the minor in South Africa.
Unabridged birth certificate no longer required
Gigaba announced that the requirement for parents to carry an unabridged birth certificate has been done away with. Immigration officials will no longer enforce that parents provide the unabridged birth certificate. Instead it will only be asked for when necessary however, Gigaba states that it is still strongly encouraged for parents to carry these documents when you are travelling with minors into South Africa.
Gigaba states that instead of producing this documentation, parents will be given the “opportunity to prove parental ties and consent”.
New laws should be in effect by December 2018
Good news for foreign travellers to South Africa is that the new laws should be gazetted soon in the hope that they will be in effect for the upcoming festive period.
Please note: SA law still requires consent of both parents for travel
A note of caution! South African parents should be aware that all children born in South Africa still require the consent of both parents in terms of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005, and that the laws in terms of this Act have not been relaxed.
Our Family Law department deals with all legal issues affecting the family. If you need advice about travelling with minor children as a South African citizen or as an overseas tourist, please contact our team of experts. For related Immigration Law expertise, please get in touch.
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The articles on these web pages are provided for general information purposes only. Whilst care has been taken to ensure accuracy, the content provided is not intended to stand alone as legal advice. Always consult a suitably qualified attorney on any specific legal problem or matter.