May 8, 2015

{Official Guide} South Africa's Immigration Regulations for travelling with children

The immigration regulations for travelling with children to and from South Africa came into effect on 1 June 2015. The law requires that all minors under the age of 18 years travelling through any South African port of entry (airport, port, border crossing etc), produce an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the names and details of both parents) as well as a valid passport.

The official guidelines from the Department of Home Affairs are published below.

Please read through them carefully and always check for updated information with your local Home Affairs office before travelling. Your Sure Travel consultant may also be able to offer some useful advice on the regulations and on travelling with children in general.

Please note: The information below is correct as of 26 May 2015 as published on the Department of Home Affairs website hereWe strongly suggest that you check for any updates with Home Affairs before travelling. Sure Travel takes no responsibility for any outdated or incorrect information.

Latest update: In October 2015, it was announced that changes to the visa rules would be made. The changes stipulate that inbound tourists (from visa-exempt countries) travelling with minors will no longer be required to produce an unabridged birth certificate but will be strongly advised to have the document and proof of the relationship and consent. However, no official change has been made yet so we would strongly advise that all travellers adhere to the regulations until further notice.

Read the 23 October 2015 statement in full here.

A handy summary of the amendment by the Department of Home Affairs

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1.1. The documents listed under paragraph 4 shall upon request be produced at a port of entry by:
  • South African minors upon leaving the Republic, and 
  • Minors who are foreign nationals and who are visa exempt when travelling through a port of entry of the Republic.

1.2. Minors who apply for a South African visa at any mission or VFS service-point shall be required to submit as part of the application, documents listed hereunder at paragraph 4, prior to such visa being issued.

1.3. Where a minor applies for a visa inside South Africa or at a South African embassy abroad it shall be standard practice for all supporting documents to be submitted prior to the visa being issued. Sworn translations of the documents should be submitted with the visa application as stipulated in Regulation 9(4) of the Immigration Regulations, 2014. However, persons who are visa exempt need not submit any translations when reporting to an Immigration Officer at a port of entry. Supporting documents should either be the originals or certified copies of the originals.

  • Minors who began their journey prior to 1 June 2015 shall not be required to produce the documents listed in paragraph 4 should the return leg of the journey occur after 1 June 2015.
  • No supporting documents will be required in the case of minors in direct transit at an International Airport.
  • Minors in possession of valid South African visas shall not be required to produce the documents listed in paragraph 4 when travelling through a port of entry of the Republic.
  • In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of parents of the travelling minor. Example: Indian passports record the parents’ names on the passport. In this instance, the requirement of an Unabridged Birth Certificate as stated in paragraph 4 may be dispensed with.
  • In the case of school tours, the parental consent may be replaced with an affidavit from the school principal confirming that all consent letters are held by the school.
     Download the suggested format for this affidavit here.  Upon producing this affidavit, immigration officers at ports of entry and South African missions abroad would not require any additional documents from individual scholars relating to parental consent. This special dispensation applies to all schools registered with the Department of Basic Education and its equivalent abroad.


3.1. Alternative Care 

Section 167 of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), states that a child is in Alternative Care if the child has been placed in:
  • foster care; 
  • the care of a child and youth care centre following an order of a court in terms of that Act or the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977); or 
  • temporary safe care.

3.2. Child/Minor 

  • South African law regards any person younger than 18 years as a child or minor.

3.3. Equivalent Document 

Any official document (Example: identity document or passport issued by the relevant authority of any country) or letter issued by a foreign government (including a foreign embassy) or a letter issued by the Director-General of Home Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, recording the identity of the parents of a child shall be accepted in lieu of an Unabridged Birth Certificate. These instruments shall serve to identify the parents of the child intending to travel through a port of entry of the Republic.

3.4. Parent 

Unless the context indicates otherwise, the word “parent” includes adoptive parents and legal guardians.

3.5. Parental Consent Affidavit 

  • Parental Consent Affidavit is an affidavit which must accompany an Unabridged Birth Certificate or Equivalent Document when any parent is not travelling with his or her child.
  • A South African Embassy in the traveller’s country of residence may be approached to commission the oath or solemn declaration required in the Affidavit free of charge.
  • The Affidavit must not be older than 6 months when presented. The same affidavit will still be valid for the departure or return in relation to the same journey regardless of the period of the journey. 
  • A suggested format of the Parental Consent Affidavit can he seen here:  ParentalConsentAffidavit

3.6. Unabridged Birth Certificate 

In South Africa, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) is an extract from the Birth Register containing the particulars of a minor and those of his or her parent or parents. UBCs are official documents issued by the Department of Home Affairs in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 (Act No. 51 of 1992). All birth certificates containing the details of a child as well as the parents of the child shall be accepted for the purposes of these Requirements as UBCs, regardless of the country of issue.

In the case of countries that do not issue UBCs, an ‘Equivalent Document’ containing the particulars of the child and his or her parent or parents, issued by the competent authority of that country, or an embassy of that country may be used instead of an UBC. A suggested format for such an Equivalent Document can be seen here. 


4.1 Where both parents are travelling accompanied by one or more of their children, such children have to produce:
  • Valid passports AND 
  • UBC or Equivalent Document for each child travelling.
4.2. Where only one parent is travelling with a child, (or children), each child has to produce:
  • A valid passport AND
  • An UBC or Equivalent Document for each travelling child AND
  • The Parental Consent Affidavit from the non-travelling parent whose details are recorded on the UBC or Equivalent Document.
4.3. An unaccompanied minor has to produce:
  • A valid passport AND
  • An UBC or Equivalent Document AND
  • Parental Consent Affidavit AND
  • Letter from the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic AND
  • A copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic.

4.4. A person who is travelling with a child who is NOT his or her biological child, such child must produce:
  • A valid passport AND
  • An UBC or Equivalent Document AND
  • Parental Consent Affidavit.

4.5. A child in alternative care shall produce:
  • A valid passport AND
  • A letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising his or her departure from the Republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).

4.6. Explanatory Notes: {Please carefully note the below in addition to the above}

1. One of the following documents may be presented in the absence of a Parental Consent Affidavit referred to above:

  • A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship of the child exclusively to the travelling parent ;
  • A court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2015, (Act No. 38 of 2005) which is a court order granting permission for the child to travel in the event that there is a dispute or no consent forthcoming from the parent/s of a child; or
  • a death certificate of the deceased parent.
2. Where only one parent’s particulars appear on the UBC or equivalent document, no parental consent affidavit is required when that parent travels with the child.

3. In the case of divorce, where custody of a child/children is shared, parental consent by both parents is required.

4. Where a Parental Consent Affidavit is presented, ALSO REQUIRED are full contact details and copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian of the child.

5. The consent of parents recorded as such on the Unabridged Birth Certificate or Equivalent Document shall be required regardless of the marital status of the parents of the child.


5.1. Where any parent/s recorded in an UBC, or equivalent document, are unable to consent to the travel by a child due to recent death, or mental or physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of the parental consent affidavit by directing a request and full motivation, together with all supporting documents (example, treating medical practitioners certificate), to the Office of the Director-General of Home Affairs, at the following e-mail address:

5.2. Explanatory Note: 

This dispensation only applies to incapacity, and does not apply where a parent is either unwilling to consent or unable to be located due to separation or divorce.

Where a parent refuses to give consent, a court order in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), may be presented in lieu of such parental consent.

View the new immigration regulations in full on the Department of Home Affairs website here. 

Infographic summary by Cape Town Tourism: what you need to know

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Apply at your nearest Home Affairs office - your biometric information will be captured.

You will need to bring:
  • Both parents ID books
  • Abridged birth certificate (or a certified copy)
  • R75 - the cost of the unabridged birth certificate
All documents submitted must be originals or certified copies.

It can take up to 8 weeks to acquire an Unabridged Birth Certificate from the date of application. We would strongly suggest that you apply as soon as possible, whether you are travelling in the immediate future or not. 

All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 were issued with a valid unabridged birth certificate automatically and free of charge.
Everyone born before that, and those from countries who do not automatically issue unabridged certificates, must apply for the document well before their travel date.

Department of Home Affairs website
Home Affairs offices, opening times and contact details
Required documents checklist - a handy checklist
Home Affairs customer service centre: 0860 60 11 90


What do you think of these new regulations? Share your thoughts below - we'd love to hear from you.

Need some expert help with your holiday? Contact your nearest Sure Travel agency.