Effective 01 June 2015, the South African government will introduce strict new regulations regarding the travel of minors (children aged under 18 years) to and from the country. This applies to all nationalities and is being implemented to counter child abduction and human trafficking.
The new regulations stipulate that for all children travelling, a valid travel document (passport) and a full birth certificate must be carried and produced on request. The birth certificate must identify the parents of the child. If an original cannot be produced, a certified copy can be provided, but the certification must be less than three months old. If the birth certificate is not in one of the 11 official languages of South Africa, which includes English, travellers will need to provide an English translation from an accredited translator.
In addition to producing a valid travel document (passport) and full birth certificate, children travelling with only one parent or unaccompanied will also be required to produce a legal document signed by any non-travelling parents, giving approval for the child’s travel. Otherwise, where applicable, they must produce a death certificate of a parent registered on the birth certificate of the child, or a court order granting sole custody. This legal document can be a Statutory Declaration or an Affidavit and must contain full names and passport details of both parents registered on the birth certificate and child(ren), with contact details for any non-travelling parent. The document should also specify the travel destinations of the parent and child(ren). These legal documents or certified copies of these documents cannot be more than 3 months old. If there is only one parent registered on the birth certificate, that person has sole responsibility.
Non-compliance from 1 June 2015 is likely to result in airlines refusing to allow travellers to board flights or being turned back at the border, and possibly fined.
For information on requirements pertaining to this and other situations such as legal guardianship or unaccompanied travelling minors, please visit the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website before travelling. This information is also available on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website (refer to the ‘entry and exit’ tab).
A detailed Q&A is available on the South African Airways website HERE