How to simplify SA’s confusing visa regulations

A new app has been developed to help mitigate South Africa’s new confounding visa requirements, which place onerous restrictions on tourists travelling to the country with their children.

Under the new visa regulations being introduced by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), tourists with minor children (younger than 18 years of age) will have to travel to South Africa with a unabridged birth certificate in addition to their passport, and visa where applicable.

Further, tourists from countries that are required to have a visa now have to appear in person during the visa application process in order to obtain a biometric visa.

The new visa requirements were introduced in June, and aim to be in line with equivalent requirements in the UK and US, under a banner of preventing child trafficking and domestic child-custody disputes between divorced or separated parents.

According to the Tourism Business Council of SA, however, the new regulations are swamped in ambiguity and confusion, and could lead to over R4.1 billion being swiped from the South African economy in lost tourism and related trade.

Independent car rental group, Drive South Africa, has subsequently launched an app to help simplify the process by ‘cutting through the legal jargon’ and helping travelers know exactly what they need when travelling to and from the country with their children.

The app lets travelers know what documentation is required of them in three clicks or taps on smart devices. The 3-step process is powered by a 37-node decision tree running behind the scenes, Drive SA said.

The app was built in consultation with family law attorney Megan Harrington-Johnson of Johannesburg-based legal firm, Schindlers Attorneys, and has had over 11,000 users from 123 countries since it launched, the group said.

Co-founder and marketing director of Drive South Africa, Andre Van Kets said the app will give parents confidence when travelling in and out of South Africa with children under 18 years old, and remove all uncertainty faced by parents trying to work out exactly which documents they need when travelling with their youngsters.

Van Kets sayid there are “15 different documents and 37 unique scenarios for children travelling in and out of South Africa”.

The app can be accessed via Drive SA’s web page.

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How to simplify SA’s confusing visa regulations