What is the change? South Africa says it plans to implement strict and onerous rules June 1 to require all children traveling to and from South Africa, whether alone or with an adult or parent, to carry unabridged birth certificates and other relevant documentation.

What does the change mean? The Department of Home Affairs is recommending that parents apply for unabridged birth certificates and other required documents for any child planning to travel to or from South Africa.

  • Implementation time frame: The rule was originally set to be implemented in 2014, but was postponed. The new date of effect is June 1, 2015.
  • Who is affected: The rule applies to all children under the age of 18, regardless of nationality, including South African citizens and permanent residents.
  • Impact on processing times: Parents, relatives or other adults planning travel with children should leave plenty of extra time to obtain documents and any necessary certifications and translations.
  • Business impact: The rules will impact employees, assignees and expatriate workers traveling with children to and from South Africa.
  • Next steps: Parents are advised to begin to obtain the necessary unabridged (full form) birth certificates and other relevant documentation as early as possible, especially before the busy summer travel season.

Background: The rules are intended to prevent child trafficking and other illicit activities targeting children and were part of last year’s immigration overhaul. The implementation of these specific requirements was postponed to give parents and government agencies sufficient time to prepare.

All parents traveling with children must carry unabridged birth certificates reflecting the particulars of themselves and the child. If only one parent is traveling with the child, he or she must also carry written consent from the other parent in the form of an affidavit (signed less than three months before travel) that authorizes travel to and from South Africa with the child. Where applicable, a court order for a legally separated parent or a death certificate of a deceased spouse must be provided. Adults traveling with nonbiological children have these same requirements and must also show copies of the parents’ passports and their contact information. Children traveling alone must carry letters of consent and contact details from both parents as well as letters and identity documents of the persons receiving them in South Africa.

Birth certificates and other documents not originally in English should be translated into English by a legally recognized translator. Affidavits must be no older than three months at the time they are presented to authorities during travel.

BAL Analysis: Despite concerns about the feasibility of such wide-ranging rules, the Department of Home Affairs has stated its intent to implement them June 1. Contact a BAL attorney if you have questions about what documentation is required for children and adults traveling with children in South Africa.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in South Africa. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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