Travelling with children to and from South Africa this festive season?

travelling with children to and from south africaThe holiday season is fast approaching, which means it’s a good time to remind you of the rules for travelling with children to and from South Africa.

These rules apply to minors (children under the age of 18) travelling with both parents or just one, children travelling with someone other than a parent and children travelling on their own.

In essence all minors require the consent of their parents when travelling to and from South Africa.

The requirements as set out by the Department of Home Affairs

The Department of Home Affairs asks for different documents depending on whether the child is travelling with:

  • Both parents;
  • One parent;
  • One parent where the other parent has passed away;
  • Single parent;
  • Divorced or legally separated parent;
  • Someone other than their parent(s); or
  • The child is travelling alone.

Here are the requirements for each instance:

Child travelling with both parents

  • The child’s birth certificate, showing details of both parents.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Adoption certificate, in the case of adopted children.

Exceptions:

Where both parents and the child have valid South African visas, birth certificates are not required. The parents and child would have proven their ‘family’ status during the visa application process when the birth certificate was submitted as part of the visa application.

Please note parents of children born in South Africa:

The DHA used to differentiate between ‘unabridged’ and ‘abridged’ birth certificates but abridged certificates have been discontinued. Due to this the DHA has decided there is no need for the naming ‘unabridged birth certificate’. These certificates are now simply called a ‘birth certificate’.

Child travelling with one parent

  • The child’s birth certificate, showing details of both parents.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Affidavit from the non-travelling parent giving permission for the child to travel with the other parent. Where one parent holds sole custody, a court order giving the accompanying parent full parental responsibility will be required instead.

Child travelling with one parent where the other parent has passed away

  • The child’s birth certificate, showing details of both parents.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Death certificate of the deceased parent.

Single parent travelling with child

  • The child’s birth certificate.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Court order giving the parent full parental responsibility.

Important:

If only parent’s name appear on the birth certificate, it is not necessary to get parental consent from the absent parent. However, if the names of both parents appear, the non-travelling parent must consent by means of an affidavit. A letter of special circumstances should be produced if the absent parent cannot be traced.

Child travelling with divorced or legally separated parent

  • The child’s birth certificate, showing details of both parents.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Affidavit from the non-travelling parent giving permission for the child to travel with the other parent. Where one parent holds sole custody, a court order giving the accompanying parent full parental responsibility will be required instead.

Child travelling with someone other than their parent(s)

  • The child’s birth certificate, showing details of both parents.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Affidavit from the parents or legal guardian giving consent for the child to travel.
  • Contact details of the parents or legal guardians.
  • Copies of the identity documents and passports of the parents or legal guardians.

Please note:

If both parents have passed away and the child is travelling with a family member, the Director-General must approve such a person to enter or leave South Africa with the child. This affidavit may not be older than three months, dating from the date of travel.

Child travelling alone

  • The child’s birth certificate, showing details of both parents.
  • The child’s passport.
  • Parental consent affidavit or court order signed by both parents or a legal guardian, including the contact details of the parents or guardians.
  • Letter from the person the child will be staying with, showing contact numbers and the physical address where the child will be staying.
  • Name and contact details of the hosts, as well as certified copies of their identity documents or passports, visas or permanent residence permits.

Exemptions to the rules

It is important to take note of these exemptions when travelling with children to and from South Africa:

  • Minors in direct transit at an international airport will not need supporting documents.
  • In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of parents. For example, Indian passports record the parents’ names on the passport. In this instance, a birth certificate is not required.

Keep this one thing in mind to make travelling with children to and from South Africa easier on your family

Start getting your documents together well in advance, but no sooner than four months before the departure date. Documents must be no older than four months.

Our final tip is to have  keep this article handy so that you can tick off documents as you add them to your file. Your family might very well be turned away at the airport if anything is missing. You don’t need us to tell you that this is not how your family want to start your holiday!