Update: Unabridged birth certificate.
At a media briefing this morning the Department of Home Affairs announced that it has delayed implementation of the requirement for children under the age of 18 to present an unabridged birth certificate until June 1, 2015. Furthermore, in the instances where children are travelling with one parent, the written permission required under the new regulations would also be postponed until June 1.
Unabridged birth certificate.
Since the Department of Home Affairs announced new regulations for child travellers, early last week, the inbound and outbound travel industry has raised numerous questions.
Under the new regulations parents travelling with children are required to produce an unabridged birth certificate for children under the age of 18. This is in addition to the child passport. The new regulations will be implemented October 1.
While many of the questions posed have yet to be answered, Ricardo Abramse, a spokesperson for the DHA, has responded to some of the queries. Other answers were sourced from the DHA through the process of applying for an unabridged birth certificate.
eTNW has emailed the department and phoned various officials numerous times in an effort to have all readers’ questions answered. We will continue to contact the department with the intention to have these answered.
Q: Do the new regulations apply to outbound travel only?
A: The new regulations apply to all travel across South African borders: inbound, outbound and transit.
Q: Does it apply for domestic travel as well?
A: No. The Immigration Act applies to those travelling across South African borders, including land and sea.
Q: What documents do parents need to apply?
A: Mother’s ID, father’s ID and the child’s abridged birth certificate. Although, when applying for an unabridged birth certificate at the department, eTNW’s journalist did not have to produce any documentation. She was only asked to fill out the relevant forms.
Home Affairs has advised that application forms will no longer be available on the DHA website and that SA citizens would need to visit their nearest Home Affairs office to obtain original application forms.
Q: What is the cost of applying for an Unabridged Birth Certificate?
Q: How long will it take, after application, to receive an unabridged birth certificate?
A: According to the DHA, six to eight weeks. However, eTNW has received reports from agents and parents who said they had to wait several months to receive the certificate.
Q: Can clients travel with certified copies of unabridged certificates or do they need to carry the original?
A: A certified copy will suffice.
Q: What documents do travellers need if they are…
a) one parent travelling with a child?
A: An unabridged birth certificate and:
(i) consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate of the child authorising him or her to enter into or depart from the Republic with the child he or she is travelling with;
(ii) a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child, if he or she is the parent or legal guardian of the child; or
(iii) where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate; Provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.
b) an adult travelling with a child who is not his/her biological child?
(i) a copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child;
(ii) an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that he or she has permission to travel with the child;
(iii) copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child; and
(iv) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child, Provided that the Director-General may, where the parents of the child are both deceased and the child is travelling with a relative or another person related to him or her or his or her parents, approve such a person to enter into or depart from the Republic with such a child.
c) an unaccompanied minor?
(i) proof of consent from one of or both his or her parents or legal guardian, as the case may be, in the form of a letter or affidavit for the child to travel into or depart from the Republic: Provided that in the case where one parent provides proof of consent, that parent must also provide a copy of a court order issued to him or her in terms of which he or she has been granted full parental responsibilities and rights in respect of the child;
(ii) a letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his or her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will be residing;
(iii) a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic; and
(iv) the contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child.
Q: Will additional immigration officials be employed to handle the additional processing and prevent longer queues at immigration?
A: “Our staff capacity is being looked at to deal with the processing and also to gear them not to become a stumbling block in processing travellers speedily,” Ricardo said.
Q: What platforms did the Department use to engage the industry before making these amendments?
A: “The regulations were published for public comment early in 2014 to allow industry to raise concerns. There was public consultation on the Immigration Act and regulations prior to it being enacted and most of the comments that we have received did receive attention. We have received a lot of information that is very helpful from tour operators and the industry and we are setting processes in place to meet with the industry to provide guidelines around how we will implement these processes and not to burden travellers are not unnecessarily burden travellers with areas that can be dealt with expediently when they visit our missions,” Ricardo said.
Q: How will immigration officials at the airport verify unabridged birth certificates that are in foreign languages?
A: “A person’s name is spelled the same on a passport and birth certificate, regardless of the language. The unabridged birth certificate is to ensure that the child is travelling with the awarded parents or guardians. For this reason, if a letter has been written to give approval for a child to travel with another adult, this documentation should be provided in English. We would then check the person’s name and verify it against the passport and unabridged birth certificate,” Ricardo said.
UPDATE: on Unbridged Birth Certificates
The Department of Home Affairs has extended the “grace period” for travellers younger than 18 years to obtain their unabridged birth certificates.
The Immigration Act, which was implemented on May 26, requires minors to present an unbridged birth certificate as well as a passport when leaving, transiting or arriving in South Africa.
Originally the Department said the new regulation would apply from July 1, but they took the decision yesterday (June 10) to extend the grace period to September 1. This was confirmed by Ricardo Abramse of the Department of Home Affairs on Talk Radio 702.
Tour operators are bracing for a wave of holiday cancellations for the upcoming July school vacations as a result of the new SA regulations aimed at fighting child trafficking.
The new regulations, which are expected to come into effect on July 1, require that all parents arriving, transiting and departing from SA produce an unabridged birth certificate for their children. Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents. In the case where only one parent is travelling with the children, consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered is required. Alternatively, either a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or a death certificate of the other parent must be produced.
“South Africa will be the only country in the world mandating this for travellers by air and, as a result, will cause mass confusion and disruption to tourists and air travellers globally,” says June Crawford, ceo of Barsa.“Travellers and travel bookers in South Africa just don’t know about this requirement and why would they? A passport is the globally recognised travel document.
“The purpose of the unabridged birth certificate requirement is to create an additional verification to deter child trafficking and while the goal is well-meaning, the unintended consequences of the resulting confusion is significant,” she says.
Popular holiday destinations such as Mauritius and Seychelles will be affected, says Wendy Schulze, Leisure manager of Thompsons Travel. She says parents travelling to Europe with their children would have to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate to comply with visa requirements. For Mauritius or Seychelles however, parents don’t need this kind of documentation.
Wendy says one of her clients is travelling with four children to Mauritius in the beginning of July. He doesn’t have an unabridged birth certificate for any of his children. The process at Home Affairs to obtain the right documentation would take on average six to eight weeks. That means her client will only have the right travel documents in August, which is not in time for his holiday.
Stephen Forbes, spokesperson for BA, explains the new regulations will have only a minimal impact on travellers from South Africa to Europe, as most are indeed in possession of an unabridged birth certificate. He says: “We don’t think the regulations will have a material effect on families travelling internationally.”
Simon Newton-Smith, head of Middle East and Africa for VS, agrees that inbound travel to South Africa will be more heavily affected than outbound travel, but he warns this is a general industry issue, which needs to be addressed. He says VS is working closely with Barsa to put a halt to the new regulations.
June adds: “The airline industry in South Africa met with the Department of Home Affairs on June 3 to request a 12 month delay to the policy implementation to allow for full and proper consultation and collaboration. To date there has been no confirmation that the proposal has been accepted so all stakeholders have to prepare for the requirements to be implemented as planned on July 1.”