Travelling with minors in South Africa

2015-07-01 06:05

Whyona Sithapersad

STRICTER travelling requirements recently came into effect for children under the age of 18, irrespective if they are citizens of South Africa.

It is required that parents and or guardians­ of children are required to carry an unabridged birth certificate together with affidavits if necessary, when crossing in and out of South African borders.

Until early 2013, it was standard practise that when a child was born in South Africa they were issued with an abridged certificate which only showed their mother’s name.

However, post-2013, children have been issued with unabridged certificates which reflect both names of their parents.

According to Home Affairs Minister, Malusi­ Gigaba, this requirement is part of the large-scale changes pertaining to South Africa­’s immigration laws that came into effect a year ago.

Government states that this new law is aimed at curbing child trafficking.

Parents can apply at any Home Affairs office­ for a fee of about R75 for an unabridged birth certificate and need to carry their identity documents and their child’s abridged birth certificate.

The Department of Home Affairs customer service has advised that this process can take up to between six to eight weeks.

Foreigners, on the other hand, travelling to South Africa with their children need to carry with them a legal document which has been issued by the relevant authority of their country which contains information similar to South Africa’s full birth certificate.

So what happens when a child (irrespective of whether their citizenship) travels with one parent?

1. When one parent is travelling with the child:

The parent who is unable to travel with the child must provide an affidavit which gives consent to the child travelling with the other parent. A copy of their identity document or passport must also be attached to the affidavit. If the affidavit is older than three months, it will not be accepted according to Home Affairs.

2. If the child’s parents are divorced:

A “consent-affidavit” and copy of the non-travelling parent’s ID/passport, a copy of the Divorce Order will also be needed and if the non-travelling parents does not provide their consent then the other parent will have to get a Court Order.

3. One parent has died:

Apart from the unabridged birth certificate, a certified copy of the death certificate of the deceased parent must be carried.

4. If the father is unknown:

The mother of the child needs to depose an affidavit stating that she has sole responsibility over the child

5. Same-sex parents:

According to Minister Gigaba, a full birth certificate allows for same-sex parents and this is called “A and B parents”.

6. When children are travelling without their parents (eg: sport tours, school tours, with a relative, etc):

The Immigration Amendment Act sanctions that the child must carry an affidavit from their parents confirming that he or she has permission to travel without them. Attached to the affidavit must be copies of both his or her parents’ identity documents and their contact details.

7. If the child is travelling alone to South Africa:

The child must carry a letter from the person that will be hosting him or her in South Africa.

The letter must contain the “host’s” address, contact details, and a copy of their ID and/or passport document

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