South Africa overhauls its ludicrous visa rules for children

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In an attempt to reverse a decline in tourism, South Africa is to scrap the incredibly restrictive rules on tourists who wish to travel to the country with children.

At present, it is tricky to enter South Africa with a child even if both parents are travelling.  We covered this story back in 2015.  If only one parent is travelling then you might as well not bother.  If one of your children is actually your step-child, then forget it.

South Africa relaxes visa rules for children

These are the rules in place today.  Note the requirement for an affidavit – a simple letter will not suffice – and the unabridged, not short form, version of the birth certificate:

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

or

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

You can find out more on the changes hereBritish Airways confirms what I wrote above on ba.com here.

Unfortunately there is no sign of the rule over the number of consecutive blank pages required in your passport being changed.  At present you must have two consecutive fully blank pages and they must be marked ‘Visas’ at the top.  Any page marked Endorsements, Amendments or Observations does not count.  (EDIT: there is some discussion in the comments about the need for two blank pages and, whilst you will read both versions on official websites, the view is that one blank page is enough.)

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Comments

  1. O/T re Aeromexico error fare yesterday. Has anyone been able to get a word on whether they will honour or refund?

    • In the same boat. Booking says both premier and class tourista (economy).
      Still waiting to hear from the AM customer services.

      Any view on this Rob?

      • If nothing works, I am sure AM will offer full refund.
        Failing that it will have to be chargeback to Amex.

        Has anyone done any charge back before? What is the process and what to expect?
        I have necessary screenshot to confirm it was booked under Premier Class.

        • With Amex it’s now all online. V easy.

        • Should be straight forward. You paid for premier (supported by screenshots) and received economy tickets. Can’t imagine AM arguing this one to be honest. It will be either honouring premier or issuing refunds, with the latter being far more likely.

        • In response to AG – as far as I’m aware, during the booking process you were asked to select seats, with the seat map being for the economy cabin (or a cabin other than biz). I think that significantly weakens the argument that you were convinced that you were booking biz tickets, especially when you could see on the first page that the biz tix were the same price as one of the economy options.

    • BlueHorizonuk says:

      I have been chatting to their twitter team who say that this is still with the higher ups and are looking to ‘fix’ this soon. What the fix will be is anyones guess.

      • Same boat here but they did ask me to supply screenshots on Twitter which gave me some hope that they will honour this….worth a punt in the end I guess

        • BlueHorizonuk says:

          I am slightly hopeful as they would have just refunded everyone and be done with it but they are trying to ‘fix’ it so maybe we will get them in the end.

  2. I have flown into or out of 157 airports in my time but have never visited South Africa. I have had to jump through a few hoops for visas but nothing comes close to the madness described in your article. 2 pages blank …. bonkers.

  3. Shoestring says:

    In case you missed the comment a couple of days ago: UK Passport Office has quietly changed the rule on adding any extra months on to your new passport when you renew, effective September 10th.

    Turnaround in most months is just a couple of weeks – 5 days for us in January LY. And the online process is very simple, it’s quite difficult to get boxes wrong. Using the Post Office checking service seems like overkill these days. So you might want to time your passport renewal a bit closer to the line if that strategy fits your travel plans. Though remember many/ most countries (not EU) require you to have 6 months remaining when you first enter.

    • I posted an online application on Thursday and received a text yesterday saying my passport was on its way and should be received in the next few days.

      • My work travel plans changed when my old passport was in the post to Liverpool expecting a 4-6 week turnaround. I had not paid for fast track and needed the old one back in 3 days. I rang expecting a no. They said they’d see if there was anything they could do.

        Next morning after no further word my shiny new passport was on my doorstep.

        • I would have preferred the passport to be posted through my letterbox 😉

        • Shoestring says:

          Heh heh! Passport Office is VERY sloppy about double checking addresses, a point you’d think they would get right most of the time. My daughter’s passport was incorrectly addressed/ numbered and went to a neighbour. We got a different neighbour’s passports delivered to us over the summer(with their name but our number). Our regular postie is not very sharp and could have spotted both mistakes (wrong number/ surname combination), has to be said.

        • Are posties allowed to use discretion when this happens or do they have to deliver to the number on the item?

        • Posties don’t deliver passports. THey use other couriers

        • Actually. sorry that is misleading info. According to their website …

          “Your new passport will be sent to you by courier or Royal Mail. They’ll either:

          post it through your letterbox
          hand it to you if you’re home
          leave a card or post you a letter saying how you can get it (it won’t say the package is your passport)”

        • Shoestring says:

          Lumma – answer: I don’t think so. We got 2 ‘you were out, pls pick up your delivery at PO collection office’ notes yesterday & by chance I was there this morning! I got 1 no problem but the 2nd one was missing. Upon a bit of asking around, it seems it was our number but the next door neighbour’s name, so our postie did in fact do the right thing & give it to the rightful addresse. I told you he wasn’t that sharp! He had already dropped the ‘you were out’ slip thru our letterbox. What he could have done is drop another one in saying ‘ignore that last slip, the parcel was for your neighbour’. But he didn’t.

      • It’s just been posted through my postbox. No one knocked to check if anyone was home…..

    • The rules around the remaining validity required for visiting EU countries may well change after Brexit of course, as advised in one of the government’s technical notices.

      At the moment no-one knows what the rules will be (though presumably there will have to be one consistent rule for all the Schengen countries at least).

  4. Romania has very similar rules to South Africa, but only for citizens leaving the country.

  5. OT – hotel recommendations. We’ve got 3 nights in NYC next May and need to keep costs to around $300 per night for a hotel near Times Square. I’m HH gold and we’ll probably go for a Hampton Inn or Hilton Garden Inn because we’ll get free hot breakfast at either of these. Any pros and cons for either? Reviews of the Hampton Inns suggest they can get ridiculously busy at breakfast time.

    • If paying cash, perhaps cast your net wider. A good coffee and hipster crushed avo on toast can be had for $10 pp.

      • Agreed – you will not be short of breakfast options in Manhattan, and you should be (just!) able to do better than those options hotel wise on that budget….

      • Just me but breakfast has to be the very first activity of the day, before leaving the hotel lol! I’m not compos mentis otherwise.

        • “Suites” hotels with kitchenette are my answer to this need.
          Saves even more if one evening (or more) one does E.g. wine and cheese in rather than going out for dinner.

          Candlewood Suites, Times Square is showing at USD711 for three nights on booking.com (and don’t forget to go via avios.com to get reward) and there are more upmarket ones.

    • If you prefer to stick to Hiltons – a couple of years ago, I tried both the Hilton Times Sq and the Hilton New York Fashion District. The former was OK – big room on a high floor with a decent view, and the hot breakfast was reasonable (not that much choice, but what was there was fine). The location was good, I thought, and a lot less noisy than expected. I can’t remember if our rate included breakfast, though, or whether we got it through HH Gold…

      The Hilton in the Fashion District, on the other hand, is one to avoid at all costs! Small, dingy room on a noisy road (and because you’re not higher up than the surrounding buildings, the noise just gets funnelled up) and I could hear the party going on in the rooftop bar until early hours of the morning. Breakfast was of the sort that I would PAY to avoid! We made the mistake of trying it on the first morning – it was horrendous! The scrambled eggs were actually green (no idea how!) and there was very little else that was edible. On the second morning, we took the option of a voucher (perhaps $10pp?) for a nearby deli – that was much better, as you had lots of choice for breakfast & things were freshly made.

      • Thanks – the Fashion District was on my shortlist due to the rooftop bar but I will avoid it now!

      • I stayed at the DoubleTree Times Sq West recently, and was impressed. The rooms are tiny (it’s NYC!) but clean, smart and comfy, and I slept well. Easy walk to Penn Sta (for LIRR to/from JFK or NJ Transit to EWR), and decent cafes nearby. Hotel was busy but breakfast wasn’t overcrowded (the bagels are delicious!) and the staff there didn’t demand tips for free Gold breakfast. The prices tend to tumble close to arrival – I paid exactly £100 incl. taxes. I’d stay there again.

        • Agree on the costs, many of these hotels seam to drop in price a lot a few days to a week before arrival, usually just after the cancellation deadline!

        • Yes, prices in NYC tend to drop at short notice… but careful. If theres a big event/conference/concert/match… then prices go sky-high. So its good to keep an eye on events happening in Manhattan.
          Last year, I booked a night in a HGI new T Sq on the same day for 100 usd including taxes.

      • Intentionally Blank says:

        “The Hilton in the Fashion District, on the other hand, is one to avoid at all costs!”

        I concur. I had the shittiest night’s stay ever here earlier this year. The breakfast is rubbish too, and expensive.

        Stayed in a room that had an ice machine directly outside. Air conditioning then broke, which couldn’t be turned off. I watched the most magnificent ripples in a glass of water balanced on my bed, the vibrations bad enough to cause this. The hotel eventually moved me, after 2 hours. Was 1am when I finally shut my eyes.

    • Somebody asked the same question the other day: look at the Library collection of hotels in Manhattan: they have four, and occupy spots 1,2,3 and 6 on Tripadvisor. Free continental breakfast, 24hr snacks drinks etc and cheese/wine from 5-8. CasaBlanca is 50yds from Times Square. It is more or less in your price range (depending on when you travel). Check it out.

      • Frankly, I suspect they manipulate Tripadvisor, given how high ALL properties in that group always seem to sit. That said – there are many genuine +ve reviews, and no amount of manipulation would prevent the porr reviews if they were rubbish. The Library hotel itself was absolutely excellent when we stayed there.

    • Mark Smith says:

      I mentioned the Dharma Home suites the other day. No good if you absolutely must be near Times Square but we stayed at Grove Street (Jersey City), 2 minutes walk from the PATH that takes you directly to midtown. If that could work for you and you’re looking to get more for your money than you will in Manhattan then I highly recommend it.

      • Thanks – this would definitely be an option if we were using Newark airport but it would be a lot of schlepping about for JFK.

        • We did fly home from JFK and, yes, it’s a long trek in a cab/Uber across Manhattan and beyond. If we’d known where we were staying when we booked the flights we probably would have chosen to fly from Newark.

          For our previous trip we stayed at the Paper Factory in Queens. Much more convenient for JFK, but their rates had increased considerably (to be fair though a chunk of that was probably the falling value of Sterling). That was good (and again really convenient for public transport), except for one thing – the walls seem to have been made from the site’s former product and we were ‘entertained’ one night by a couple’s full-blown row (we thought they were going to kill each-other!)

    • My ‘goto’ in NYC for breakfast is to head out to a local deli and get a takeaway to take back to the hotel. Coffee, fruit and a bagel is more than enough to see you through to lunch and is fairly cheap.

    • We stayed at HGI Times square in Sep 2017. If you want Times Square location this hotel is perfect. The rooms were smallish but clean, fresh and quiet enough. There is not much relaxation space in the hotel but when I’m in NYC I only use the hotel to sleep anyway.
      The restaurant/bar was quite small but in September we had no issues getting a table for a drink at night or at breakfast in the am. I would stay there again. However, I have stayed at the Novotel and Sofitel and would choose either of those over the HGI in a heartbeat…

    • I would honestly avoid Times SQ at all costs – even for first timers. It ain’t pretty. That said the GI is a bit of a walk from Times SQ if I remember rightly?

      • Yes, it’s not our first time and we’re looking to stay “near” rather than “on”! There are a few HIs and HGIs within a few blocks.

        • Another good hotel is The Fitzpatrick Grand Central 34th and Lexington: you don’t get breakfast but it is only a short walk along Lexington to 39th and Scotty’s diner which is really good. If you are a tea drinker like me, the Fitzpatrick is a small Irish chain and you get a decent cup of Irish tea ????

    • The HGI on W 35th is good, obviously outside of Times Square but v good location and close to penn station for LIRR/subway access. Breakfast was good there and rates are usually around $300 a night but do season to stop once you get within a week of stay date.

    • Stayed at Hyatt times Square few years back, great location and Terrific rooftop bar..

  6. My son’s school are sending 100 kids on a school trip to South Africa next year. I wonder if this has even been considered?!

    • Eek, that could be interesting if they haven’t!

    • South Africa! Schools these days, my son’s (state) school does Geography trips to Costa Rica lol. We thought we were lucky if we got to go to Alton Towers (if we were unlucky it was Chester Zoo).

      • Furthest I ever got was the RAF Museum in Hendon (and my visit there last week for the Frequent Traveller Awards was my first visit since then, so probably 37 years ago).

        • I thought you were from Staffordshire or around there – how do they not take you to Alton Towers?!!

        • Not very Ejicashunal, innit?

          • We actually went to the RAF Museum AND Wembley Stadium in the same day. And I got to walk up the steps to the Royal Box and hold up a little trophy whilst cheering was played over the PA system. Quality school trip.

        • Sussex Bantam says:

          Man – I’d like to do that now !

      • I went to the Maldives with school (which is why I’m not particularly interested in going again).

  7. OT: Curve linked to Tesco debit card, haven’t received points for recent transactions- anyone in similar boat?

    • I don’t use the Tesco card any more but I emailed Curve yesterday to ask if they issued supplementary cards and I got a reply asking what a supplementary card was!

    • the_real_a says:

      Tesco have confirmed that they are treating Curve “cash-like” transactions as – cash transactions. So you wont earn points on them.

      You should get points for “regular” purchases.

    • Paid a bill to the Brighton-based company with Curve linked to Tesco Debit, no clubcard points have posted so far. Oh well.

  8. GeoffGeoff says:

    Do the two blank passport pages actually get used up every time you enter/exit South Africa?

    • No the entry visa take around 20% of a single page. I never understood the rule.

      • GeoffGeoff says:

        Thanks

        • No, but interestingly enough at the BA check in desk a couple of months back, they had to ask the supervisor at Heathrow if I could fly to SA as I only had 1 page free.
          (I did explain that the SA immigration officers really dont care if you dont have 2 consecutive free pages)

      • Minimum page rules are usually so the double sided blank page can be fed through a machine, rather than actually needing to print across them.

    • It used to be a biggish sticker, it’s probably a hangover from then.

  9. The kid restrictions seem bonkers, although the blank pages seem less of an issue nowadays, with no stamps for EU (for now), Oz, USA I’ve got some pretty empty passport pages despite lots of travels!

  10. I wouldn’t say the 2 pages rule is rigidly enforced, I flew in earlier this year with just 1 page and it wasn’t a problem.

  11. Sorry but complete OT, I’ve nabbed the last business cabin award seat on a QR flight next weekend but need another. The cabin’s still pretty empty according to expert flyer, do QR usually release more space or am I going to have to buy a ticket?

    • Before you pay I’d look at redemption options from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh and possibly Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels and other easy to reach places. Will be pricey otherwise for a short notice ticket.

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