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. 

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.

Cape Town

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.

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  1. James says:

    A court order haha. Wow sign me up for a South African holiday! Not.

  2. Sam wardill says:

    Perhaps BA will now have to reinstate direct flights to Harare. Every cloud…..

  3. Ultimately every soverign state has the right to make their own immigration rules and we have to respect that, whetehr we like it or not.

    If we strengthed the UK immigration rules and foreign nationals complained about it, would we take any note? I doubt it!

    These do sem rather “severe” policies and will pose difficulties for some who already have trips to SA booked and were not expecting this. For those who have not yet booked, you make the choice, ffollow the rules or don’t go. If tourist rates drop significantly I am sure they will re-consider.

    One assumes after a pause in it’s implentation, and a period of reflection, the government of SA still feels these changes are right for them. Their choice.

    • But I don’t see the point. What problem does this solve?

      • JohnG says:

        It’s clearly ‘supposed’ to make child abduction harder. It does happen, so it is a problem, and to be fair this kind of system will probably make it harder; though I doubt it’s anywhere near the most efficient/effective way.

        • Long passport control lines will become even longer as they will have to review those docs too. Same with BA stuff at Heathrow – they will need to go through the contents as well to get comfortable that the court order says what it really says

      • signol says:

        There have been several high profile cases of child abduction where one parent has taken a child out of SA. This will hurt SA residents a lot more than it hurts us. Actually, I thought it was enforced from last October (delayed from last June), so when my wife and I took our children to visit their grandparents at Easter we had the relevant documents – in that case both birth certificates.

    • oyster says:

      ‘Their choice’ it might be, but that’s hardly justification.

      Of course this will damage tourism, how could it not?

      Whether they care or not remains to be seen.

  4. Georgia bailey says:

    Utterly appalling reporting. You have deleted the ‘OR’ that is on the ba website. So, you say that one parent travelling needs an affidavit AND a court order. Whereas on ba website it stated one parent travelling needs a affidavit OR a court order.

    You are scare-mongering. Why? Pathetic.

    • I haven’t deleted anything. That is a direct cut and paste – if the BA website now has ‘or’ on it, it certainly did not yesterday afternoon.

      I just looked again and there is one ‘or’ added. However, that only means you need a court order OR an affidavit. Not exactly making life easier.

      • Lesley Palmer says:

        Actually that makes life a great deal easier. court orders can only be obtain if the parents are in dispute and cost a great deal. You should be able to get an affidavit run up at around £150 plus VAT and then it needs swearing at a further £5. And this would be appropriate if the parents are not in dispute, together and only one is going on holiday for example or even if they are separated and there are no formal court orders on residency or it is shared (as is the case the majority of the time). It makes it a pain and a bit more expensive but to suggest the two are in any way the same is misleading

        • Now I think about it, I wouldn’t even be able to do the flight I am doing tonight (popping down to Singapore with the kids as my wife is down there working for a few days) under this regime.

          Looking at my diary, I am also doing another 2 flights this year with one or both children but not my wife.

          Imagine, for eg, husband has a flexible work ticket and books family to come with him on non-flex tickets. A work delay means he has to take a later flight. The wife cannot then travel with the kids without rustling up new paperwork.

        • Fortunately South Africa is a wonderfully safe place so there is no chance whatsoever of you being stuck in the country following a breavement waiting for a death certificate from the UK authorities before you can leave with your child.

      • Georgia bailey says:

        It is very clear on the ba website. Affidavit OR court order.

        Are you going to change it on this site?

        Yes, it will certainly add additional burden when I travel alone to SA with my children. I will need to get an affadavit. It would be a significant extra burden if I needed to get a court order as well. The fact that you seem to think the difference isn’t important sayes a lot about your approach to reporting

        • Where does raffles suggest for even a second the difference isn’t important.

          He has clearly stated that yesterday afternoon the website was different to what it is now. I think your accusations, calling him “pathetic” & “scaremongering” are out of order and you should apologise. An apology for accusing him of deleting and editing text when he hasn’t is surely also due.

          He is here to help you and he has reported on the situation as it was yesterday afternoon. Things have changed. If you think the site is terrible and his approach to reporting is just as bad perhaps you should stop reading the site and take your comments elsewhere.

          Apologies raffles, I see you getting too much stick on here sometimes for things which are clearly not your fault.

        • It was already changed when I made my original reply.

          An affidavit is a significant burden to people who are used to just turning up at the airport to fly, in my view.

          • Lloyd says:

            +1 to Toby’s comment. This is the only site which I religiously go on to on a daily basis, keep up the good work Raffles.

          • Georgia bailey says:

            I am sorry. And that is a genuine apology for assuming that the error was intentional to make more of ‘bang’. That was an incorrect assumption on my part. Apologies.

            In your second message you do seem to downplay the difference between an affidavit and a court order; they both represent a burden, so that’s that. However, as Lesley , clearly states, the difference is very significant indeed. A affidavit is a burden, but a court order represents significantly more effort and additional cost

          • That’s why I would personally steer clear of the place (if travelling alone as a parent but with kids). All the worry & hassle, you might get turned away by BA in London before travelling or by South Africa border control at destination just because a document wasn’t quite right.

            And sure as eggs is eggs some numbnuts would get it wrong and you’d still be the one to suffer as there’s no appeal in these situations.

          • Unnecessary level of attack on Rob who i know to be very careful in what he posts and does not post. When commenting on sites such as this its more helpful to post as part of a community and take a constructive tone in what you post, its one of the reasons HfP has become so popular.

    • Also noticed the lack of the “or” on the BA website FAQ after the email they sent out on the 20th. Glad to see they’ve now corrected it.

    • oyster says:

      With all due respect, it’s the South African government doing the scaremongering here wouldn’t you say?

  5. There probably IS a problem at the root of this, my guess would be that it is almost wholly a South African problem ie internal to that country (child abduction, usually by one parent against the other parent’s wishes).

    Talk about sledgehammer, though…

  6. Wasn’t so long ago that, travelling as a single parent with 3 children, I regularly used to get stopped in Europe at passport control going into or out of my wife’s native country. They wanted an official document from my wife saying I was allowed to cross the border with the kids. Ultimately they never actually prevented me from travelling – but often ummed and aahd enough (& delayed us a few minutes while they weighed up if I was dodgy enough to take it further) to make me regret not sorting out that document…

    All gone away these days, I guess them joining Schengen helped.

  7. Save EC Rewards (joke) says:

    I think this has to do the terrible nectar scheme. We did not campaign hard enough on that and bombard Virgin et al to change the scheme and so the South African Government has moved ahead with this. If we had campaigned harder then the SA government WOULD have scrapped it…and there is still time to do so!

  8. For years, the same rule has been in place for Indian visas

  9. 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.

    • 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!

  10. 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 !

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  11. 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!

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