There has been much confusion around the birth certificate requirements for minors travelling in and out of South Africa. To date, the Department of Home Affairs is in the process of revising the regulations but has advised that all travellers travelling with children under age 18 need to carry their birth certificates AND relevant passports displaying the details of both parents.

Many holiday makers access Mozambique via South Africa and this guide is given in an attempt to make your travel to Mozambique a whole lot easier. For detailed advice and expert travel resources, as well as more details on how we can assist you en route to Mozambique please contact one of our knowledgeable consultants on 27 21 7855498 or make an e mail enquiry here.

REVISED Birth Certificate Regulations for South Africans since November 2016

South Africans travelling with children younger than 18 (called minors) require passports AND the complete birth certificate detailing both paternal and maternal information. This is still the main document needed at customs to ensure smooth travel procedures. If a visa has been issued to a minor, the birth certificate would have been provided as part of the application process.

In other words, the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has dealt with all confusion around unabridged and abridged birth certificates by scrapping the terminology. The department now only issues Birth Certificates displaying the details of both parents. All children under age 18 (minors) need this document and if they are travelling into and out of South Africa they must now carry their own passport that shows the details of both parents and is set to be the main travel document.

If parents have applied for their child’s birth certificate but it is not ready or has not been received at the time of travel, they need to get an official letter from their nearest Home Affairs office stating this fact before they travel through a port of entry.

Abridged vs Unabridged Birth Certificates

Between 1995 and March 2013, when a child was born in South Africa, they were issued with an abridged birth certificate that showed only their mother’s name. Children born after March 2013 have been issued with an unabridged certificate showing the names of both parents. Now, the birth certificate automatically shows the names of both persons and is simply called The Birth Certificate.

There was a huge uproar when the new Unabridged Birth Certificate Regulations were issued in 2015. Travellers entering and leaving South Africa with children under age 18 (minors) had to produce their child’s unabridged birth certificates plus mountains of paperwork to allow their children into the country. Some countries don’t even issue such birth certificates. Confusion was rife and everyone was phoning the DHA.

The Department of Tourism was convinced that these regulations had a huge negative impact on tourism to South Africa as travellers merely changed their plans and went elsewhere. The Department of Tourism called urgent meetings with the DHA to resolve the matter. They argued that more than 13 000 people were not allowed to board planes to South Africa between June 2015 and July 2016. They estimated that if one tourist spends an average of R13 000 per day in South Africa, the country lost more than R7.51 billion during this period. The DHA has been forced to revise these regulations.

History of the 2015 Unabridged Birth Certificate Immigration Law

South Africa tabled a new immigration law that came into effect as of 1 June 2015, affecting all travellers under the age of 18 (children, called minors). The South African Department of Home Affairs expected all minor passengers who were travelling domestically and internationally across her borders to travel with an Unabridged Birth Certificate. And they expected all minors to produce this document WITH their passport when entering or leaving South African ports of entry, showing the details of both parents. The reason for this very complicated law was simple: South Africa is concerned about the rise in human trafficking across its borders – every year, some 30 000 children (minors), are illegally moved through South African borders, most of them being less than 14 years of age.

Facts you should Know:

  • As from 1 November 2016, the Department of Home Affairs has changed the terminology for the Unabridged Birth Certificate. It is now simply called the birth certificate as they have done away with the differences between the old abridged (pre-2013) and the new unabridged birth certificate (post-2013) versions.
  • South African citizens must still apply for birth certificates when they apply for child passports. From now on, the DHA will print the details of parents in the children’s passports and when those parents travel with those children, they will not have to take their birth certificates with them.
  • Every traveller entering and leaving South Africa, however, still needs to fulfil the requirement for valid passports, and visas where applicable. If one parent is not travelling with the children, then he/she must provide an affidavit confirming parental consent to such travel.

To confuse everyone even more, the DHA recently stated that the birth certificate is still required. They urge that travellers should not assume that if they have their children’s passports in order that they don’t need their birth certificates. In addition, travellers from visa-exempt countries should remain cautious and just arrive with all the necessary documentation to avoid any changes to their travel plans.

The DHA therefore agreed to alter the law to make it easier for all travellers with children, but to still maintain the safety of all children crossing into and out of South Africa.

In a nutshell, parents should all obtain the necessary documentation for their children as soon as possible. This means getting passports showing the details of both parents, as well as birth certificates. This will save them the hassle of doing it in a rush one day, and having to re-read the rules and regulations later on. Do it now if your children are minors! For more information, contact your local tour operator or the Department of Home Affairs .

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