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Travelling with children under South Africa’s new Immigration Laws

The amended Immigration Regulations of South Africa (Regulations) which requires children under the age of 18 to travel with an unabridged birth certificate in addition to their passport was set to come into effect on 1 October 2014.

Travelling with Children

However the Department of Home Affairs (Department) recently announced that the effective date of operation of the amended regulation has been further delayed to 1 June 2015, citing the reason for the delay being the potential impact of the new regulation on the travel and tourism sector.

Regulation 6 of the Regulations deals specifically with travelling with minor children. In this article we shall highlight some of the frequently asked questions in this regard.

Regulation 6(12) of the Amended Immigration Regulations provides that:

“…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….”

What is an unabridged birth certificate?

An unabridged birth certificate is a birth certificate which displays the full particulars of both the biological parents of the child. From 14 March 2013 all infant births are automatically issued with unabridged birth certificates upon registration. Therefore if your child was born after 14 March 2013 you should already be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate.

How do I apply if I am not in possession of an unabridged birth certificate for my child?

All applications are processed by the Department and may take up to 8 weeks from date of application. For purposes of the application you will require your identity document as well as your child’s identity number – original documents or certified copies are permitted, however it is important to note that certified copies are only valid for 6 months. Currently, the application fee is R75.

What if my unabridged birth certificate is in a foreign language?

Should you be in possession of a birth certificate in a foreign language, you are required to furnish both the original birth certificate along with a sworn translation thereof to the immigration official at the relevant port of entry/exit.

Internationally speaking, there are nations who do not issue unabridged birth certificates. In these circumstances a letter from the relevant and competent authority in the foreign nation in question is required, confirming that there are no unabridged birth certificates issued within their nation.

Are children permitted to travel without either of their biological parents?

In terms of the new Regulation, children will be permitted to travel without their biological parents or with one of their biological parents provided that the child is in possession of all of the following documents:

  • His/her unabridged birth certificate;
  • Passport;
  • An affidavit from the biological parents or legal guardian consenting that the minor child may travel alone or with a third party; alternatively the other parent
  • Copies of biological parents/ legal guardian’s identity documents or passports;
  • Contact details of the biological parents/ legal guardian;
  • Full details of the place where the minor child shall reside within the Republic; and
  • Identity documents and/or passports; alternatively permanent resident permits of persons with whom the minor child shall reside within the Republic.

Where the minor child is travelling with another relative, or in cases where both biological parents are deceased, the Director General may permit this person to enter and travel with the minor child.

It is important to note that where reference is made to an affidavit, the affidavit cannot be older than 3 months from date of travel.

What happens if you do not have all the necessary documents in your possession at date of travel?

In terms of the Regulations, immigration officers at the port of entry/exit are required to ensure that you are not:

  • A fugitive from justice; and/or
  • The subject of a court order which prevents your departure/entry.

In the absence of either of the above, if you are not in possession of all the required documentation you are at risk of being refused entry/exit and may be deported.

In light of the further extension to the effective date of commencement of Regulation 6 and to avoid problems/ delays at the ports of entry/ exit, parents are urged to collate all the necessary documents prior to travel and take all reasonable steps to ensure that should their minor children wish to travel, they are fully compliant with Regulation 6 of the amended Immigration Regulations prior to 1 June 2015.

To ensure you are fully compliant with the aforesaid regulations and that you and your child’s rights and interests are adequately protected, you are urged to contact a professional to assist you in this regard.

For assistance or more information please contact:

Juan Smuts or Wesley Scheepers

Family Law & Immigration Departments, Abrahams & Gross Attorneys

T:     021 422 1323       E:    juan@abgross.co.za  /  wesleys@abgross.co.za   /  info@abgross.co.za

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