The law applies to all nationalities and affects anyone travelling into and out of South Africa – crossing the country’s borders whether by land, air or sea – with a child under the age of 18 years.
The regulations – which require all adults travelling with children to have a copy of an Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC), among other documents, for each child they are travelling with – is being implemented to counter child abduction and human trafficking.
The documentation needs to be produced upon request at South African border control by the parent or guardians of:
- South African minors leaving and entering the country
- Minors who are foreign nationals and who only need to be issued with visas on arrival when travelling through a port of entry into South Africa
Foreign minors who require a visa to enter South Africa will need to present these documents when applying for the visa in their home country. No visas will be issued without the necessary documents. Once those minors are in possession of valid South African visas, they will not be required to produce the documents again when travelling through a South African port of entry.
In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports or other official identification documents, these documents will be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of parents of the travelling minor.
All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 were issued with a valid Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) automatically. Everyone born before that, and those from countries who do not automatically issue unabridged certificates, must apply for the document well before their travel date.
In the case of countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the country of origin should be produced.
Here’s what you should know:
- The Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) should identify the parents of the child by name. If an original cannot be produced, a certified copy can be provided, but the certification must be less than three months old
- In the event that the birth certificate is not in one of South Africa’s 11 official languages, which includes English, travellers will need to provide an English translation from an accredited translator
Where only one parent is travelling with a child for any reason, whether as a single parent or merely in the absence of the other parent, the following documents must be produced for immigration officials:
- A copy of an Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC)
- An affidavit from the other parent or legal guardian of the child, confirming his or her consent for the accompanying adult to travel with the child. The affidavit must contain full names and passport details of the child and both parents registered on the birth certificate, including contact details for any non-travelling parent. The document should also specify the travel destinations of the parent and child
- A South African embassy in the traveller’s country of residence may be approached to commission the oath or solemn declaration required in the affidavit free of charge. The affidavit must not be older than four months when presented. The same affidavit will still be valid for the departure or return in relation to the same journey regardless of the period of the journey. A suggested format of the parental consent affidavit is available at: http://www.dha.gov.za/files/ParentalConsentAffidavit.pdf
- In the case of divorce, where custody of a child/children is shared, parental consent by non-travelling parent is required. The consent should include full contact details and copies of the identity documents or passports of the non-travelling parent or legal guardian of the child
- Single parents are required to produce a court order (granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child)
- If applicable, a death certificate of a deceased parent must be produced
If there is only one parent registered on the birth certificate, that person has sole responsibility and no parental consent document is necessary.
For information on requirements pertaining to this and other situations, such as legal guardianship or unaccompanied travelling minors, please visit the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) website before travelling.