As written before, no-one can doubt the rationale and intent behind the new regulations for children traveling in and out of South Africa. Protecting children against being illegally moved from country to country is admirable and common sense.
Further, ample notice had been given for the obtaining of unabridged birth certificates to South Africans. This was perhaps not the case for those abroad and thus the concerns around the effect the new regulations will have on tourism.
Something that was most certainly not thought through properly and which now constitutes a ‘birth certificate disaster’, is the recent announcement by the Minister that handwritten birth certificates would not be permitted – birth certificates must be computerized.
No notice of this had been given previously and nothing has been documented to indicate this.
So what’s the effect?
In short (and there is come conflicting information coming from the Department of Home Affairs, but more on that later) – your child cannot travel in or out of South Africa without a computerized unabridged birth certificate.
This was confirmed by the Minister, however Cape Town airport said it was acceptable if handwritten. The inconsistency is most likely due to poor communication, as a client of ours rang the Department of Home Affairs three times, talked to three different people, and was told on all occasions his child could not travel if the birth certificate is not computerized. It would appear then that the line has in fact been drawn.
It gets worse
As if the lack of notice, conflicting information and no documentation of this requirement weren’t bad enough, let’s turn our attention to obtaining a computerized birth certificate.
Apparently in order to do so, you need to have a South African ID book (as the parents). This is not an issue if you are a South African permanent resident, but what if you are not?
The unfortunate truth is that you cannot get a South African ID book as a temporary resident and therefore cannot get a computerized birth certificate for your child.
Can’t I get one from my home country?
Let’s take the UK as an example. The UK have a reciprocal agreement with South Africa that says they will accept a South African birth certificate and as such will not issue the UK national with a child in South Africa with a UK birth certificate.
If you are a temporary resident in South Africa with a child who has a written unabridged birth certificate, the child is not allowed to leave South Africa.
What if my temporary visa expires and I’m heading home?
It really becomes a nightmare situation. As said above, if you are a temporary South African resident with a child who has a written unabridged birth certificate, that child is not allowed to leave South Africa. The kicker is that you, the parent, can’t stay in South Africa when your visa expires, because your visa isn’t valid anymore.
Hopefully clarification comes soon
This regulation is not only badly thought through, it is unfair and just plain wrong. In theory, it has the potential to split up families.
Intergate is anxiously awaiting some clarification on this regulation. Rest assured that we will update you as soon as we have received more information.