How South Africa’s new visa laws will impact you when travelling with a child

The Department of Home Affairs recently relaxed some international travel requirements for children going through South African ports of entry.

“From the beginning of December 2018, certain categories of child travellers will be exempt from presenting supporting documents at ports of entry,”the department said in a statement on Wednesday (5 November).

“However, travellers are urged to carry these documents because they may be requested in certain instances,” it said.

Below the department outlined the changes which have been made and the documents you now need when arriving to or leaving South Africa with a child.


For travellers coming to South Africa,

  • Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are required will no longer have to carry supporting documents. This is because they would have been required to provide these during the visa application process.
  • Children who are foreign nationals from countries where visas are not required may be asked to produce supporting documents upon entry. Even though producing supporting documents is no longer compulsory, travelers are strongly advised to carry the supporting documents.
  • In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be sufficient to establish the identity of the parents of the travelling minor.

For South Africans leaving the country,

  • South African children travelling abroad may be requested to produce supporting documents at ports of entry.
  • Children with passports detailing parents’ names will not be required to carry birth certificates when travelling. In addition, a parental affidavit may be required.
  • These requirements are meant to give effect to the Children’s Act, 2005 which stipulates that minors travelling in or out of the country must do so with the consent of both parents.

The department said that it has trained its immigration officials to implement these changes.

“These amendments were made in terms of section 7 of the Immigration Act, 2002 after consultation with the Immigration Advisory Board,” it said.

“The amendments took effect on 01 December 2018, ahead of the festive season when many parents and families will be going on holiday with children.

“These amendments reflect some of the Cabinet approved reforms to the visa regime and are in line with economic recovery plan and stimulus announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in September 2018.”


Read: Major visa changes on the way for South Africa: expert

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