New Laws For Travelling With Children Explained – FAQ Fridays

UPDATE: The Department of Home Affairs has decided to delay the implementation of the new visa and unabridged birth certificate rules. Read more here.

Video Transcription

Welcome to another edition of Travelstart’s FAQ Friday with me, Nick Paul. This week we are talking about the new immigration laws that affect travelling with children.

So what are they?

Coming 1 October 2014, 1 June 2015 under the new law all minors (children under the age of 18) will be required to produce an unabridged birth certificate as well as their passport upon check-in for their flights leaving South Africa, and also upon entering South Africa. This applies not only to South Africans but any nationality passing through South Africa.

Why is this law in place?

This is being done in order to curb human trafficking.   According to the Department of Home Affairs every year 30 000 children are trafficked through South Africa, and 50% of these are under the age of 14 years old.

How do you apply for an unabridged birth certificate?

If your child was born after the 14th of March 2013 you should have been given an unabridged birth certificate with the childs birth. For everyone else, you will need to apply at your nearest Home Affairs Department. You will need to take along your child’s ID book and pay the fee of R75 in cash. The unabridged birth certificate can take up to 8 weeks to be processed.

Who is exempt?

  • Domestic Travel – the law does not apply to children travelling domestically within South Africa.
  • School tours
  • Cruises to no-where – these are cruises which do not stop off anywhere, they literally just go out to sea and then back again to a South African port. Correction: 27 August 2014: MSC Cruises South Africa has confirmed that no cruises are exempt from the new requirements.

New Child Travel Requirements Go2Africa Infographic
Click image to expand infographic. Source:

Applications of the Law

Child travelling with both parents: 

A child travelling with both parents will be required to travel with their passport and unabridged birth certificate.

Child travelling with one parent:

For a child travelling with only one parent you will need your childs passport, unabridged birth certificate and a signed affidavit or court order stating that the other parent is aware that the child is travelling and has given permission for the child to travel. If one of the parents has passed away a death certificate will suffice.

Child travelling with a guardian:

For a child travelling with a guardian the child will need to have a passport, unabridged birth certificate and an affidavit or court order signed by both parents allowing permission for the child to travel. In the event that both parents have passed away a death certificate for both deceased parents must be used.

Unaccompanied child: 

If your child is travelling unaccompanied the situation is slightly more complicated. You will still need the passport, unabridged birth certificate and affidavit or court order stating the child has permission to travel. To add to this you will need contact details of the person receiving the child, as well as a certified copy of their ID or passport and their physical address.

For more information for the documentation you will need and the process of applying for an unabridged birth certificate please click here.

Thank you for watching, if you have any other travel related questions please ask them in the comments below and we might make them into a video next time. Don’t forget to subscribe to our channel by clicking here.



Our Readers Comments

  1. Good Morning

    My 14 year old South African son will be flying with his sister and friends to Durban from OR Tambo International during December 2019. What documentation does he need to travel as a minor child?

    • Hi Pam,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      Please contact the airline your son will be travelling with direct. Each airline has different policies on what documentation will be needed.

      They will be able to provide you with what documents they require for an unaccompanied travelling with them.

  2. Can my wife who has a South African passport travel to the UK with my child who has a Canadian passport and an unabridged South African birth certificate (and an affidavit giving permission from me of course)?

    • Hi Steve,

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      The follow in required:

      Valid passport; Valid visa, if required; UBC or Equivalent Document; and PCA; or Court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2005; or Letter of Special Circumstances.
      Note: In the case of single parents, where only one parent’s particulars appear on the UBC or Equivalent Document, no PCA is required. In the case where parents were never married but both parents’ particulars appear on the UBC or equivalent document, the consent of the non-travelling parent is required; In the case of same sex parents appearing on the UBC, it may be accepted (e.g. 2 mothers or 2 fathers).

      However we do ask that you contact the airline as they will be able to provide you with the most up to date information.

  3. Hi

    I have two children. I was only engaged but together for 15 years with their father. We separated almost a year ago and 8 months ago was the last time we heard from him. He does not pay maintenance or make any contact with me or his kids. His last words to me were to tell the kids he is dead and to find another man. So I would like to know how can i relocate overseas if there has not been contact for 8 months and what do I need to do…

    • Hi Chantal,

      For this you would need to contact the Embassy direct. They will advise what documents you would need, correct procedures to follow and the cost involved.

  4. So glad the ridiculous law has been retracted, Makes travel for much-needed tourism so much easier again.

  5. we would like to apply for my niece’s passport, mother passed away, unable to locate whereabouts of father. would we still need to try and ascertain his whereabouts when visiting home affairs to apply for passport and ubc? my parents have been appointed as primary caregivers.

    • Hi Susan,

      Thanks for the interesting question.

      If you have the legal documents where her grandparents have been appointed the primary caregivers you would need present this.

      However I suggest contacting the Department of Home Affairs they should be able to provide you with the most up to date information as they specialize in this area.

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