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Travelling to and from South Africa with a Minor Child

Unabridged Birth Certificates South Africa

A new immigration regulation came into effect on 1 June 2015. Under the new regulation, all minors (children under the age of 18 years) will be required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when entering and exiting South African ports of entry.  This regulation was in fact incorporated in the Immigration Regulations which came into effect on 22 May 2014, but until now, it has not been strictly enforced.  As of 1 June 2015, the regulation is being enforced at all South African ports of entry and the implications thereof are significant.  It is also understood that the regulation does not apply to domestic flights within the borders of the Republic.

The travel and tourism industry did not receive the implementation of the regulation very well as it compels airlines to ensure that passengers have the necessary documentation before being allowed to board flights with minor children.  The regulation will also be enforced by airlines and immigration officials across the board (land, sea and air). It is however the responsibility of travelers to ensure that their children have the correct documentation or risk being denied boarding. In all cases an Unabridged Birth Certificate will be required for minors departing and arriving in South Africa. They will not be allowed to travel without it.

What are the requirements for UBC?

In cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.

  • Children travelling with both parents:

A child travelling with both parents will be required to travel with their passport and Unabridged Birth Certificate.

  • Children travelling with only one parent:

When a child travels with only one parent, he/she will require a passport, Unabridged Birth Certificate, an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel and 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 3 months old from date of travel.

  • Children travelling accompanied but without either parent:

In the case 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 documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian.

  • Children travelling on their own as unaccompanied minors:

A child travelling as an unaccompanied minor has to produce not only the Unabridged Birth Certificate, but also proof of consent from both parents or legal guardians and contact details, plus documentation relating to the person receiving the child in South Africa. The latter documentation should include a letter stating the person’s contact details and residential address, contact details where the child will be residing, plus a copy of his or her ID document, passport or residence permit.

Application process for Unabridged Birth Certificates (in South Africa)

Apply at your nearest Home Affairs office where your Biometric information will be verified. You will need your ID book, as well as your child’s ID number. All documents submitted must be originals or certified copies. Certified copies of documents are usually valid for 6 months only.

The Unabridged Birth Certificate currently costs R75.00. It can take up to 8 weeks to acquire an Unabridged Birth Certificate from the date of application.  Travelling within the 8 week processing time will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances such as death of a family member or serious illness.  In such exceptional circumstances applicants can apply for a letter from Home Affairs to confirm that an application for a certificate is pending.

Since last year, Unabridged Birth Certificates have been issued automatically for newborns. So if your infant was born after 14 March 2013, you should be in possession of an Unabridged Birth Certificate.

To download the Department of Home Affairs’ Unabridged Birth Certificate information pack, click here.

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