Africa: Controversial birth certificate rules for foreign tourists in SA to be scrapped


It’s taken four months for the government to fully establish clarity on this situation, but better late than never hey? The requirement for foreign minors to produce a birth certificate upon arrival in South Africa is set to be dropped, according to an official government publication.

The whole process has been deemed as convoluted and over the top: Acquiring birth certificates can be a nightmare in any country, and having to apply for a copy can take months of clearing administrative hurdles. As Tourism Updatehighlight, official wording on the regulation now omits this particular requirement.

“Where both parents are travelling accompanied by one or more of their children, such children have to produce valid passports and visas, where applicable. When travelling with parents with different surnames, carrying proof of the parental relationship is advised.”

When will this become law?
This updated version on the rules will only come into “actionable effect” once loaded on to the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Information Manual Automatic (Timatic) system. The programme is able to store all information required about every passenger who flies through South Africa.

No date has yet been set for the implementation, which means the old rules still apply for now. We will update this article accordingly when the new regulations become official policy.

Birth certificate requirements: Be aware of exemptions
However, with this being a Home Affairs directive, there are some sneaky caveats you need to be made aware of: Most importantly, the rule change will not apply to South African children. Kids travelling with one parent are advised to continue producing a birth certificate, as well as a parental consent letter from the non-travelling parent.

Fully unaccompanied children in-transit must still provide:
A valid passport
A Birth Certificate
The Parental Consent letter, from both parents on the BC
A letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic,
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 the Republic.

The Department of Home Affairs published the update on Friday. They hope that this relaxation of the rules – whenever it is fully implemented – will help drive tourism numbers up and make it easier for families to pass through South African customs hassle-free.

by Tom Head



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