Foreign minors traveling with both parents, who have the same surname, will soon no longer have to present a birth certificate when entering South Africa.

The Department of Home Affairs published the updated advisory on 22 March 2019.

They hope that this relaxation of the rules – whenever it is fully implemented – will help drive tourism numbers up by making it easier for families to pass through South African customs hassle-free.


Travelling with children

Referring to foreign minors, the key paragraph 3.1 of the advisory has been changed to read: “Where both parents are traveling accompanied by one or more of their children, such children have to produce valid passport and visas, where applicable.”

There is no longer any mention of a birth certificate. Minors from countries that require a visa will need to present them when they apply for a visa, but they will not be required to travel with them. The travel regulations that require South Africans younger than 18 to have unabridged birth certificates as well as written permission by parents or guardian(s) that approve their travel plans will remain.

As with many countries, there are special requirements for unaccompanied children, where one parent is not present, or the parents have another surname to that of their child.

However, for practical purposes the regulations will only come into actionable effect once loaded on the International Air Transport Association’s Travel Information Manual Automatic (Timatic) system – which informs airport ground staff about the border passenger documentation required when entering and leaving South Africa.

Until such time as the regulation update is loaded onto the system, and is viewable by airline check-in staff, the current requirement of children having to produce valid passports and birth certificates for each child traveling, remains in place even though contrary to the new regulations.

Speaking on SAfm’s Sunrise, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa Tshifhiwa Tshivengwa said, “this is an important step as the requirement that minors present birth certificates upon arrival in the country had put strain on tourism”.

Travel and tourism supported 1,5 million jobs in South Africa in 2017, 9.5% of total employment. The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) is estimating that by 2028, almost 2,1 million jobs in South Africa will depend on travel and tourism, the industry that contributes 9% of the total gross domestic product (GDP) of South Africa. Thus this announcement is a welcomed one as tourism is a major contributor to the countries struggling economy.

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by Nicolas Nel