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New Rules concerning traveling into South Africa with children under 18

Everyone traveling with children under 18 years old needs to be aware of some new stringent regulations that come into force on June 1, 2015 (postponed from 1st October 2014).

Children traveling in and out of South Africa will be required to carry an unabridged birth certificate as well as a valid passport, under new regulations aimed at improving the safety of children.

The regulations came into effect at the end of May, but the Department of Home Affairs has delayed their implementation until 1 October, to make allowance for families who have already made plans for the upcoming school holidays.

The rules are aimed at improving the safety of children, including "their protection from child trafficking, abduction and kidnapping", the department said on Tuesday. The department has urged citizens and foreign nationals to apply for unabridged birth certificates, which reflect the particulars of both parents, in good time in order to avoid possible delays to their travel plans. It can take up to six to eight weeks for an unabridged birth certificate application to be processed.

  • When leaving South Africa with children, parents or guardians must be able to produce unabridged birth certificates reflecting the details of both parents, as well as a valid passport for each child. This will apply to any child that wants to enter the country. The duration and nature of the visit have no effect.
  • This requirement applies even when both parents are travelling with their children.
  • It applies to foreigners and South Africans alike and will apply to any child that wants to enter the country. The duration and nature of the visit have no effect.
  • If children are traveling with a guardian, this adult is required to produce affidavits from both parents giving permission for the children to travel. They will also need copies of the passports of the parents, as well as the contact details of the parents:
     
    • an affidavit from the other parent granting permission for the child to leave the country
    • 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
    • if children are travelling with only one parent, they must produce an unabridged birth certificate as well as:
    • if applicable, the death certificate of the other parent registered on the birth certificate.
    • a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child
       
  • When a child is traveling as an unaccompanied minor, he or she must be able to produce:
     
    • proof of consent (a letter or affidavit) from both his or her parents or legal guardians to travel in or out of the country and a letter from the person who will receive the child in South Africa, including that person's full contact details and a copy of their passport or ID book. The letter must also include details about where the child will be staying, and full contact details of both parents or legal guardians.

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