Very Importnat Alert - Unabridged Birth Certificates for Travelling Children


Tour operators are bracing for a wave of holiday cancellations for the upcoming July school vacations as a result of the new SA regulations aimed at fighting child trafficking.

The new regulations, which are expected to come into effect on July 1, require that all parents arriving, transiting and departing from SA produce an unabridged birth certificate for their children. Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents. In the case where only one parent is travelling with the children, consent in the form of an affidavit from the other parent registered is required. Alternatively, either a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or a death certificate of the other parent must be produced.

“South Africa will be the only country in the world mandating this for travellers by air and, as a result, will cause mass confusion and disruption to tourists and air travellers globally,” says June Crawford, ceo of Barsa.“Travellers and travel bookers in South Africa just don’t know about this requirement and why would they? A passport is the globally recognised travel document.

“The purpose of the unabridged birth certificate requirement is to create an additional verification to deter child trafficking and while the goal is well-meaning, the unintended consequences of the resulting confusion is significant,” she says.

Popular holiday destinations such as Mauritius and Seychelles will be affected, says Wendy Schulze, Leisure manager of Thompsons Travel. She says parents travelling to Europe with their children would have to be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate to comply with visa requirements. For Mauritius or Seychelles however, parents don’t need this kind of documentation.

Wendy says one of her clients is travelling with four children to Mauritius in the beginning of July. He doesn’t have an unabridged birth certificate for any of his children. The process at Home Affairs to obtain the right documentation would take on average six to eight weeks. That means her client will only have the right travel documents in August, which is not in time for his holiday.

Stephen Forbes, spokesperson for BA, explains the new regulations will have only a minimal impact on travellers from South Africa to Europe, as most are indeed in possession of an unabridged birth certificate. He says: “We don’t think the regulations will have a material effect on families travelling internationally.”

Simon Newton-Smith, head of Middle East and Africa for VS, agrees that inbound travel to South Africa will be more heavily affected than outbound travel, but he warns this is a general industry issue, which needs to be addressed. He says VS is working closely with Barsa to put a halt to the new regulations.

June adds: “The airline industry in South Africa met with the Department of Home Affairs on June 3 to request a 12 month delay to the policy implementation to allow for full and proper consultation and collaboration. To date there has been no confirmation that the proposal has been accepted so all stakeholders have to prepare for the requirements to be implemented as planned on July 1.”

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