What documents are needed when travelling with minor children?
25 July 2016

– Summary

When you travel with minor children, you are required to have certain documentation with you. This article sets out the documents you need.

The visa regulations that come into effect in June 2015 for all people travelling with children under 18 years into and out of South Africa are not going anyway.

The purpose of these regulations is primarily to curb trafficking of children across South African borders.

These do not apply to travel within the borders of South Africa.

Below are 14 things you should know about travelling with minor children:

Will these laws affect me?

These laws affect the following people:

  • Anyone travelling to or from South Africa with minor children (under the age of 18) (including locals and foreigners).
  • A Parent travelling with their minor child but not the child’s other biological parent.
  • Minor children travelling without either parent and/or being accompanied by someone other than a parent.

What is needed if both parents are travelling with the child?

  • Your Child’s Unabridged Birth Certificate.
  • Your child’s passport.
  • Relevant visa’s (if required).

All documents must be original or certified as a copy of an original by a commissioner of oaths or equivalent authority.  All certified copies, affidavits, letters, etc. must be dated within four months of the date of departure or entry.

What is needed if only one parent is travelling with the child?

  • Your Child’s Unabridged Birth Certificate.
  • Your child’s passport.
  • Relevant visa’s (if required).
  • Parental Consent Affidavit from the non-travelling parent (to see the preferred format of this affidavit click here).

All documents must be original or certified as a copy of an original by a commissioner of oaths or equivalent authority.  All certified copies, affidavits, letters, etc. must be dated within four months of the date of departure or entry.

My child is travelling with a relative (neither parent will be with him), what documents will be needed?

  • Parental Consent Affidavit from the parents stating that the child is allowed to travel with the person that is not the parent (to see the preferred format of this affidavit click here).
  • The contact details of the parents.
  • Copies of the identity documents and passports of the parents.

All documents must be original or certified as a copy of an original by a commissioner of oaths or equivalent authority.  All certified copies, affidavits, letters, etc. must be dated within four months of the date of departure or entry.

What is needed if my child is travelling unaccompanied?

Unaccompanied children need the following:

  • A passport.
  • Unabridged Birth Certificate.
  • Visa (if necessary).
  • A Parental Consent Affidavit both with parents contact details (signed by both parents) or an order of Court. (To see the preferred format of this affidavit click here).
  • A letter from the person the child will be staying with noted their contact numbers and the physical address.

You should have certified copies of the identity document (or passport), visa or permanent residence permit of the person he/she will be staying with and the parents of the child.

All documents must be original or certified as a copy of an original by a commissioner of oaths or equivalent authority.  All certified copies, affidavits, letters, etc. must be dated within four months of the date of departure or entry.

What is needed if one of the child’s parents is deceased?

You will need a Death Certificate for the parent that has passed away.

What is needed if both parents of the child are deceased?

The approval of the Director-General is required confirming that the child may enter or leave South Africa with the third party. The document is usually in the form of an affidavit and it may not be dated more than 3 months from the date of travel.

What can I do if I am divorced/separated from my child’s other parent and he/she will not consent to the child travelling across the South African borders?

You will need to approach a competent Court (High Court or Children’s Court) and obtain the Court’s permission to travel with the child.

This can be a costly and time-consuming process.

What is an Unabridged Birth Certificate?

It’s a birth certificate issued by Home Affairs and it displays the details of both parents of the child.

All children born in South Africa after 14 March 2013 will be issued with an Unabridged Birth Certificate.

Any minor child born in South Africa before 14 March 2013 will likely have an Abridged Birth Certificate (which only displays the mother’s details); if you have not already, you should apply for your child’s Unabridged Birth Certificate.

How and where can I get an Unabridged Birth Certificate in South Africa?

You can obtain an Unabridged Birth Certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.  You will need the following:

  • The child’s ID number and the original IDs for both parents.
  • Payment for the certificate in cash.  It is currently R75.00 (as of 2016); you should confirm this amount beforehand.

The Department of home affair indicates that it will take 4-8 weeks to process an application so it is recommended that you apply long before your departure date.

What if my child’s birth certificate is not in English?

You will need to have the birth certificate translated into English.  The translation must be done by a sworn translator; someone that has been given the authority to translate documents by a competent regulatory body (in South Africa, this would be the High Court). All supporting documents need to be original and duplicates must be certified.

What if there is no such thing as an Unabridged Birth Certificate in our country?

You will need to get a letter for a competent regulatory body stating that there is no equivalent to an Unabridged Birth Certificate in your country (in South Africa, this would be the Department of Home Affairs)

What must we do if our child is adopted and our names are not on his Birth Certificate?

You will need the have proof of the adoption, usually an adoption certificate.  The documents must be in English or a sworn translation.

What if the Unabridged Birth Certificate does not contain the details of one of the parents?

Parental consent from the unnamed parent is not required.

DISCLAIMER: THERE ARE MORE CONSIDERATIONS THAN WE CAN COVER IN THIS ARTICLE SO ONLY USE THIS INFORMATION AS A GUIDE.   THIS INFORMATION DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE.  IT IS ALWAYS BEST TO DISCUSS YOUR SITUATION WITH AN ATTORNEY; CONTACT US AT 0861 88 88 35helpdesk@gcm-legal.com AND THROUGH THE CONTACT FORM ON THIS PAGE.

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