New visa rules to visit South Africa

South Africa’s new Passport and Travel Documents Act officially took effect from this morning.

Under the new law, all minors under the age of 18 years are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an unabridged birth certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry. (Image: Mathiba Molefe)

South Africa’s new Passport and Travel Documents Act officially took effect from this morning.

Under the new legislation, South Africans and foreign nationals travelling with children under the age of 18 are required to produce unabridged birth certificates. It is part of the government’s commitment to safeguard the best interests of children and prevent child trafficking.

Last week, the Department of Home Affairs said parents who needed to travel with their children and could not get unabridged birth certificates in time, would be able to leave the country if they had a letter indicating that they had applied for the documents.

The requirements were aimed at establishing the principle that all children must have the consent of their parents when travelling into or out of South Africa, Home Affairs director-general Mkuseli Apleni explained on 29 May.

Parental consent

The would apply to South African children, under 18, on leaving South Africa, as well as to children who were foreign nationals and who were visa exempt when travelling through a port of entry of the country.

“The requirements are aimed at establishing the principle that all children must have the consent of their parents when travelling into or out of the republic,” Apleni said.

Under the new law, all minors under the age of 18 years are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an unabridged birth certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry.

According to the department, when a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent.

The affidavit should be no more than three months old from date of travel.

In the event of a child travelling with a person other than a parent, the unabridged birth certificate must be supplemented by affidavits from the parents or legal guardians confirming that the child may travel with that person. Copies of the ID or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian must also be provided.

Unaccompanied minor

In the event a child is travelling as an unaccompanied minor, not only the unabridged birth certificate, but also proof of consent from both parents or legal guardians and contact details, as well as documentation relating to the person receiving the child in South Africa, must be produced.

Apleni pointed out that where both parents were travelling with valid passports and visas the unabridged birth certificate was not a requirement since these additional documents would have been provided when applications were made for passports and visas.

“It is where one parent or another person is travelling with somebody else’s child that we require valid passports, an unabridged birth certificate, and parental consent affidavits.

“Travellers who are from countries that are not visa-exempt do not have to bring along unabridged birth certificates for the child/children travelling with. The Visa Exemption List is on the Home Affairs website,” Apleni said.

Review of regulations

However, news reports this morning quoted Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe as saying that the government was considering reviewing the controversial visa regulations.

Radebe told a World Economic Forum (WEF) pre-briefing in Johannesburg on Friday that the government had received calls for a review following concerns that the new regulations may curb growth in the tourism and hospitality industries.

“We are looking at all issues that have been raised pertaining the visa regulations. Despite the noble intentions of these immigration policies, they have had an unintended consequence which needs to be addressed,” news reports quoted Radebe as saying.

The concerns may not be unfounded. Reports emerged last week that Air China had cancelled the launch of direct flights to South Africa over the regulations.

Brand South Africa Reporter 

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