Good news – changes to the Unabridged Birth Certificate requirements have now been gazetted by the South African Government and updated on the Travel Information Manual Automatic (TIMATIC) used by airport ground staff to determine whether a passenger can be carried.
Airline check-in staff will no longer request birth certificates from minors traveling to South Africa if travelling with their parents with the same last name (see important note at the end of this post).
Please note however the following requirements if the above is not the case:
Travelers younger than 18 years of age traveling to / from South Africa:
A. With both parents, if the minor’s surname is not the same as both parents, must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate or a passport containing the details of the parents
B. With 1 parent, must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate and a parental consent letter from the absent parent or legal guardian containing a copy of his/her passport or identity document and his/her contact details. Alternatively, the following will be required: A letter of special circumstances or a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship to the present parent. In case the other parent is deceased a death certificate will be required. In case the name of 1 parent only (Mother or Father) is on the birth certificate, then the parent must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate containing information about the parent only.
C. With an adult other than a parent, must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate and parental consent letters, copies of identification documents and his/her contact details or a letter of special circumstances, a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship to the present parent. In case the other parent is deceased, a death certificate.
In case the name of 1 parent only (mother or father) is on the birth certificate, the adult must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate containing information about the parent only.
Documents of parents/legal guardians will include the contact details of parents/legal guardians and contact details of the person in whose care the minor will be.
D. When travelling as a primary or secondary school tour with a teacher or a trainer, a letter of consent from the school principal is required, confirming that consent letters from all parents are held by the school, together with an ID/passport copy of the accompanying teacher or trainer.
E. Unaccompanied minors must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate and a parental consent letter containing a copy of his/her/their passport/s or identity document/s and his/her/their contact details (or consent from one parent together with a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship or death certificate), a letter from the person receiving the minor in South Africa will also be required, containing address and contact details as well as a copy of the identification document of the person receiving the minor, including visa/residence permit (if required).
Passengers arriving without the required birth certificate will be granted a period of 24 hours to obtain it. All documents must be in English, except for the birth certificate.
The parental consent letter must be issued within 6 months prior to the date of travel.
Adopted children who do not have a birth certificate containing the information of the adoptive parents must hold an adoption order.
· This does not apply to South African minors travelling to South Africa.
· This does not apply to holders of a valid visa.
· This does not apply to holders of a temporary residence permit issued by South Africa.
· This does not apply to minors in transit in South Africa.
Having noted the above Ultimate Africa highly recommends all parties traveling to Africa with children to bring either an original, or certified copy, of each child’s birth certificate. It is not yet clear if Namibia and Botswana, which also have strict child entry requirements, will mirror South Africa’s new regulations or continue with their stricter regulations.