What you need to know about South Africa’s new birth certificate travel rules

Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has confirmed government’s plans to scrap its controversial birth certificate rules for travellers.

The rules, which were first introduced under former Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, require all people travelling with minors (under the age of 18) to produce an unabridged birth certificate, and a letter of parental consent if the child is not travelling with both parents, when departing from and arriving in South Africa.

Speaking to 702, Motsoaledi said that the changes were made in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s stimulus package and plans to encourage growth in the country.

He added that while the original intention of the rules was to fight child trafficking, this issue could still be tackled without damaging the tourist industry.

“We were considering the issues of economic growth,” he said. “When you look at a visa regime anywhere in the world you basically look at three things: the sovereignty and security of your country, your developmental needs, and the stability of your country.

“You take these three formulas and then make a decision. Following the stimulus package discussion, we said ‘let’s not use this particular method’  to fight child trafficking. We are not saying that child trafficking doesn’t happen but a decision was taken as tourism figures have fallen.”

Still need consent

While government has scrapped the requirement of producing an unabridged birth certificate for tourists entering the country, Motsoaledi said that these changes only apply to inbound travellers.

He added that South Africans travelling with underage minors from the country still need consent from both parents.

He outlined the new rules as follows:

  • When you visit South Africa as a tourist and apply for a visa, there is no need for a birth certificate of any kind;
  • When you leave South Africa to go abroad with your child, you will need to provide consent from both parents in line with the Children’s Act.

While these rules have been clearly set out, Motsoaledi admitted that there was still some confusion among Home Affairs and immigration workers surrounding these rules.

As a result, he has instructed a communique to be sent out to all stakeholders outlining the new rules.

Read: 15 top countries South Africans can visit visa-free in 2019

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What you need to know about South Africa’s new birth certificate travel rules