From Tuesday, 1 November the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) issues only one birth certificate for all newborns stating both their maternal and paternal birth details. Previously there were two versions of the birth certificate, an abridged (issued for new-borns up until 2013) and an unabridged birth certificate detailing both parents’ details (issued to all new-borns since 2014).

airport-1528251-640x480The document will now simply be known as a “birth certificate”. So there is no “unabridged” or “abridged birth certificate” anymore.

In essence, however, it remains an unabridged birth certificate.

What is the birth certificate needed for?

South Africans travelling with minor children, will still need the complete birth certificate detailing both paternal and maternal information at customs to ensure smooth transit operations.

Children born after 14 March 2013 were issued with a valid unabridged birth certificate automatically so there is no need to apply for a new one.

Everyone else who is still under the age of 18 must apply for an unbridged birth certificate well in advance to their travel date.

Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni also accented the extension of the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six months in opposite to three months before.

Was the simplification too late?

According to the Democratic Alliance MP James Vos, however, the move is too little too late. “As a result of the contentious unabridged birth certificate regulations, 13 246 people were denied boarding to South Africa for the period June 2015 to July 2016, according to statistics provided by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). Taking into account that a tourist to South Africa spends on average R13 000 per day, our country has lost potential revenue of R7.51 billion because of this regulation,” Vos’ stated.

What else was announced?

In February the DHA also announced a new South African passport for minors which would be the accepted document instead of the unabridged birth certificate when travelling. The process, however, still needs to be rolled out.

By the way: Regardless of the ongoing complaints about biometrics collected on arrival in South Africa, Apleni says biometrics are here to stay, and will continue to expand. He also announced the future roll-out of even more biometric data capturing stations – at six land-based ports of entry on South Africa’s borders.


by Sue-Allan Mehl