From 1 June 2015, all passengers under 18 years old will be required by law to travel with an Unabridged Birth Certificate. What does that entail, exactly? We’ve gone through some of the fine print to help you understand what’s going on, and how to make sure the new law doesn’t mess with your travel plans.
Useful tool: Child Visa Checklist by Drive South Africa
Update (20 November 2015): All About SA’s New Travel Laws
An Unabridged Birth Certificate will be required for minors departing and arriving in South Africa from 1 June 2015, and they will not be allowed to travel without it. The new law will be enforced by airlines and immigration officials across the board (land, sea and air) and it is the responsibility of passengers to ensure their children have the correct documentation.
Don’t delay applying for Unabridged Birth Certificates as the time frame for processing the documentation can vary greatly, from a few weeks to several months.
How does it work?
Unabridged birth certificates are issued upon request to persons who are:
- South African citizens by birth or naturalisation
- Children of South African citizens who were born abroad
In the case of one parent travelling with a child, the following must be produced:
- An Unabridged Birth Certificate showing both parent’s details (in cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned)
- A recent affidavit (within the last three months) in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, or a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child
- a Death Certificate, in the case of one parent being deceased.
In the case of children being accompanied by adults who are not the biological parents, the following must be produced:
- An Unabridged Birth Certificate showing both parent’s details.
- A recent affidavit from the parents or legal guardians proving consent for the child to travel
- Copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardians
- The contact details of the parents or legal guardians
In the case of a child travelling as an unaccompanied minor, the following must be produced:
- An Unabridged Birth Certificate showing both parent’s details
- A recent affidavit from the parents or legal guardians proving consent for the child to travel, as well as contact details
- Documentation relating to the person receiving the child in South Africa: a letter stating the person’s contact details and residential address, as well as a copy of his or her ID document, passport or residence permit.
Why is this law being implemented?
According to the Department of Home Affairs, approximately 30000 minors are trafficked through South African borders every year, half of whom are under the age of 14. It is hoped that this law will help curb human trafficking of minors.
Who is exempt?
- Minors travelling on a domestic flight within South Africa
- Minors travelling on a cruiseliner that stays within South Africa’s borders
- Note: minors travelling in school groups or with their grandparents are NOT exempt from this requirement
How do I apply?
Since last year, Unabridged Birth Certificates have been issued automatically for newborns. If your child was born after 14 March 2013, you should be in possession of a UBC. If your child was born prior to 14 March 2013, you need to do the following as soon as possible:
- Take your ID book, as well as your child’s ID number, to your nearest Home Affairs office where your biometric information will be verified.
- All documents submitted must be originals or certified copies (note – certified copies of documents are usually only valid for 6 months)
Note: the Unabridged Birth Certificate costs R75 and it can take up to 8 weeks to process from the date of application.
Who do I contact?
Department of Home Affairs toll free hotline:
Tel: 0800 601 190,
Has this new law affected you in any way? Let us know in the comments section below.