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Crazy new South Africa travel rules for children really are starting on 1st June

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Last September, I wrote about the ludicrous new rules which impact anyone flying into – or even transiting – South Africa with a child under 18.

At the last minute, implementation of the new rules was delayed.  I think people expected them to be quietly scrapped, but that is not the case.  From 1st June they will be in place.

It will be very difficult for a child to enter South Africa from June 1st, especially if both natural parents are not present. 

Cape Town

British Airways will refuse to let you travel with your child if you cannot produce the paperwork required at the airport because you will not be allowed entry. has a good summary of the new rules here.

Where both parents are travelling with a child who is under 18:

All parents travelling with children under the age of 18 to or from South Africa must produce an unabridged birth certificate of each child which shows details of the parents of the child.

Where one parent is travelling with a child, they must produce:

an unabridged birth certificate

and either

consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered as a parent on the birth certificate, authorising them to enter or depart from South Africa with the child


a court order granting them full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship or where applicable, a death certificate of the other parent registered as a parent of the child on the birth certificate

Where an adult is travelling with a child, who is not their biological child, they must produce:

a copy of the unabridged birth certificate of the child

an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian of the child confirming that they have permission to travel with the child

copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child

Children travelling alone must produce:

consent from one or both of the parents/legal guardian in the form of a letter or affidavit, for the child to travel into or depart from South Africa. If only one parent is able to provide proof of consent they must also have a copy of a court order granting the full parental responsibilities

a letter from the person who is to receive the child in South Africa, containing their residential address and the contact details where the child will be residing

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 South Africa

contact details of the parents or legal guardian of the child

Do you like the sound of all that?  I didn’t think so.

Comments (45)

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  • Ben says:

    The unabridged birth certificate also needs to be in English. If you are French, for example, then you’d need to pay a registered and official translator to translate the document. I work in travel and this is going to cause chaos.

    • Rob says:

      Well that is a large % of the planet who are in trouble then.

      On the upside, I’m looking forward to some good South Africa travel deals this Winter!

  • Peter says:


    Sounds a bit ridiculous. We’re gay dads with an adopted son. I had been thinking about planning a Cape Town for the three of us. We have a Birth Certificate for our Son which quotes “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” but it’s obvious he’s not our birth child – would this birth certificate suffice or do we need his original birth certificate (which we also have) but it quotes his biological parents who, obviously have a different set of surnames.

    The complexities…. OMG !

    • RICO says:

      If you are not the biological parents of the child you must carry copies of the identity documents of the childs legal guardians.

      Presumably this means that as well as carrying your original passports to get into SA your self you will also need certified copies of your passports to bring your child in with you.

      If you decide to go good luck.

      • pj says:

        The cost & complexity would be enough for me to choose a different destination if there’s no particularly compelling reason to visit Cape Town.

        • wetboy1uk says:

          Peter – go to America – Florida. Why would you want to go to a country where gay people are treated with very little respect anyway

          • Barbs says:

            Actually, same sex marriage have been legal in South Africa since 2006. There is also space in the regulations for adopted children, in which case I believe it is the adoption certificate which is to be taken along, and it can refer to parent 1 parent 2 on the birth certificate.

            Simple enough to google the requirements, and just double check.

    • Leo says:

      I would think your first port of call would be the SA Embassy for clarity, you are of course the child’s legal parents. Personally I don’t understand the fuss about Cape Town – and yes I have been fairly recently.

  • Anneen says:

    My daughter is going to SA on a school hockey trip in July and we received a letter last week from school requesting a certified copy of her birth certificate and a sworn affidavit allowing the school to take her out of the country. Luckily for us her school is arranging for solicitors to attend one evening to witness and sign all documents ensuring the affidavit for all says the same thing!

    To complicate even further, we are meeting her at Joburg airport when they fly home and taking her to Dubai but at least both of us are going although we still need a certified copy of her birth cert! It might look weird us entering the county without child and leaving with one!

  • Mike says:

    Agree with Rob (Raffles) – a large % of the population will be “inconvenienced” and so looking forward to some exciting offers for SA!

    Birth certificate – no issues.
    Affidavit: also not an issue…it may take an extra 10 minutes to type one up, print and get the wife to sign it…but not major (in my opinion). However – does the Affidavit have to follow some specific format? Can see that that may be an issue.

    As an aside – my wife travels with our 3 kids alone to Canada often and she gets asked about 80% of the time “where’s your husband” / “why isn’t he traveling” etc… So we have a standard letter that she shows (along with a copy of my passport to match signatures)!

    • Capecam says:

      I have a copy of the suggested wording document / affadavit direct from home affairs here in SA.
      I will post a link to it in a comment if raffles will allow that ?

      There has been significant child trafficking in South Africa, but this is a sledge hammer to crack a nut.And in any event most of the trafficking is happening across land borders, not in general international airports. like Oliver Tambo or Cape Town.

      • pj says:

        Raffles would be OK with that – I think he’s boarding a plane to Singapore with a couple of kids and a Teutonic nanny! 😉

    • Capecam says:

      Oh – The affidavit must be sworn and signed in front of a solicitor, so if you happen to live in a different country to the other parent ( Which is often the case when UM’s are travelling due to a separation or divorce) then thats two lots of solicitors affidavits

  • wetboy1uk says:

    Max – ANSWER – NOT GO – not that I have ever wanted to go to a country which is so two faced. Shouldn’t they be more worried about children being abducted out of rather than into their country!

    • Max says:

      We are planning on a visit in 2016. This will not affect us as we have no children. In fact I can even see the positive side, there may be less jam eaters running around on our flight 🙂

      But issues around safety for visitors may yet put a kibosh on our plans to visit South Africa- the OH is not convinced on the issue. Being mauled by wildlife is an acceptable risk, being fired on and shot whilst in a hire car or in a tourist bus is not.

  • pj says:

    It’s clearer than BA’s version IMV & adds a couple of salient facts, including:

    The affidavit may not be older than 3 months, dating from the date of travel.

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