From 1 June 2015 persons with children under the age of 18, or unaccompanied children, traveling to or from SA, have to produce additional documentation to Immigration Officials at all border controls by land, sea and air.

To clarify any confusion that may exist, here is a summary of the documents required.

Child traveling with both parents will require the following:

  • An unabridged birth certificate of their child;
  • A valid passport for their child; and
  • A visa (if required).

Child travelling with one parent will require the following:

  • All of the documents as required by a child as set out in 1. above; AND
  • Written consent from the non-traveling parent giving express permission for the child to travel with the other parent;
  • Where the traveling parent has sole (full) parental rights and responsibilities (previously called sole custody) in respect of the child in terms of a court order, or are legally separated and the other parent refuses to grant their consent, a copy of the court order granting the traveling parent parental rights and responsibilities or the court order confirming that the parent may travel with the child;
  • Where the non-traveling parent, whose name is reflected on the certificate cannot be traced, a letter of special circumstances must be applied for from the Department of Home Affairs; and
  • Where the non travelling parent registered on the birth certificate has passed away, a copy of that parent’s death certificate

Child and any guardian will require the following:

  • All of the documents set out in 1 and 2 above, provided that both parents have to consent; AND
  • Copies of the identity documents or passports of the consenting parent(s) or legal guardian of the child.

An unaccompanied child will require the following:

  • All of the documents as required by a child as set out in 3; AND
  • A letter from the person who is receiving the child in SA containing his/her residential address and the contact details where the child will be residing;
  • A certified copy of the ID, valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in SA; and
  • Contact details of the consenting parent(s) or legal guardian.

Some commonly asked question include:

What is an unabridged birth certificate?

  • This is a birth certificate which reflects the particulars of both parents. All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 are automatically issued with an unabridged birth certificate at no cost.

Where and how do I get an unabridged birth certificate?

  • Unabridged birth certificates are issued by the Department of Home Affairs. Application can be made at any branch of Home Affairs. Take both parents’ ID books, the child’s ID number or “old” birth certificate and a payment required by the Department of Home Affairs. Ensure that you apply in time as it generally takes between 6-8 weeks for the unabridged birth certificate to be issued.

Do I have to travel with the original documents?

  • No, copies certified by a Commissioner of Oaths as a true copy of the original are acceptable.

How old may the affidavits giving consent and supporting documents be?

  • Affidavits by the consenting parent or guardian may not be more than 4 months old, dating from the time of travel.

Does it include children traveling with school groups or grandparents?

  • Yes, any child traveling across a border into or out of South Africa has to be in possession of this documentation.

Do copies of ID’s, passports, etc. have to be certified?

  • Yes, all documents have to be certified by Commissioners of Oath, or the equivalent should the country of origin not have Commissioners of Oath, as a true copy of the original.

What will happen if I do not have the required documentation at the check-in time?

  • All airlines are bound by the South African Immigration regulations and must act accordingly. Persons not in possession of the required documents, will not be allowed to travel.

For more information on this topic or for some assistance, please feel free to contact Liesl Fourie at our offices on +27 41 3969200.