Traveling to RSA

What you need to know about South Africa's new laws when traveling with children.

Why is the government changing the child laws?

South African immigration authorities have noted that there is an unacceptably high volume of child trafficking over the country’s borders. The new laws aim to curb child trafficking but will result in considerable paperwork and advanced planning when traveling to and from South Africa with children.

Who does this affect?

Anyone wanting to travel from or to South Africa with a child under the age of 18 years, parents who are traveling with their child but not their spouse and those who wish to send their child on a trip accompanied by someone other than a parent. Also if the child will be traveling alone.

For more information contact the South African Home Affairs:
Tourists from abroad:
+27 11 461 9252
Tourists in South Africa: 0800 60 11 90

When do the new laws come into effect?

The law has come into effect on 1 June 2015.

What will we need?

All children under the age of 18 leaving and entering South Africa will be required to have an unabridged birth certificate to accompany their passport.

What is an Unabridged Birth Certificate?

  • It’s a birth certificate that reflects the particulars of both parents of the child.
  • All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 were issued with a valid unabridged birth certificate automatically and free of charge.
  • 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.

Do I need an unabridged birth certificate to travel around within South Africa?

No, but it will be required at all border controls by land, sea and air.

What about birth certificates that are not in English?

Should the birth certificate be in any language other than English, it must be translated into English in a sworn document by an authority in the country of origin.

There is no such thing as an unabridged birth certificate in our country, what must we do?

In the case of countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country should be produced.

My child is adopted so our names are not on her birth certificate, what should I do?

The parents of adopted children should produce proof of adoption by means of an adoption certificate.

I am travelling with my child but not my spouse, do I need anything else?

  • If the child is traveling with only one of their parents, the traveler parent will be required to provide a passport and unabridged birth certificate (with particulars of the parents), as well as an affidavit stating that they have documentation from the other parent of the child to say that the child is permitted to travel.
  • The parent will also be required to produce a court order giving the accompanying parent full parental responsibility.
  • These documents may not be older than 12 weeks.
  • Legally separated parents should provide a court order when the other parent does not give consent.

My husband has passed away, what will I need in lieu of his consent?

Should one of the parents be deceased, a death certificate must be produced.

My child is going on holiday with her aunt, what do we need to prepare?

  • If a child is traveling with someone other than a parent, additional documents to be presented will include an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian to state that the child is allowed to travel with that person, the contact details of the parents or legal guardian and copies of the identity documents and passwords of the parents or legal guardian.
  • Where both the parents of the child are deceased and the child is traveling with a relative, the Director-General must approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with said child.
  • This affidavit may not be older than 3 months, dating from the date of travel.

My 17 year old son is going to spend a holiday with relatives in South Africa, he is flying alone, what do I need to do to?

  • An unaccompanied child requires a passport, unabridged birth certificate (with particulars of parents), affidavit or court order signed by both parents or legal guardian stating that the child has their permission to travel, as well as their contact details.
  • In addition, certified copies of the identity document or passport of the person the child is staying with in the destination, as well as a letter from the person receiving the child (to include contact details and physical addresses) is required.

I want to send a child who is in alternative care in South Africa on an overseas programme. What do I need?

A child who is in alternative care should produce a certified copy of an authorisation letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides on departing South Africa.

How to go about obtaining an unabridged birth certificate in South Africa?

Parents are advised to apply for an unabridged birth certificate well in advance as the process may take months (the indicated time is between 3 and 8 weeks).

Apply at any branch of Home Affairs bringing:

  • R 75 in cash
  • Parent’s ID book, both parents ID numbers as well as the child’s ID number

You will be given forms to fill in.

What are the exceptions to the rule?

  • On a school tour, one letter from the school principle will suffice as permission for the children to travel without their parents and in a school group.
  • Children on a ‘cruise-to-nowhere’. This is when a cruise ship travels returns to the same destination it departed from.