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Regulations for Families Travelling with Children to South Africa

Airlines Update – Requirements for travelling with minors

As of 29 April 2019 check-in staff will no longer require birth certificates from minors travelling on foreign passports if travelling with both parents who share their surname.

South African minors are still required to present a copy of their birth certificate/equivalent document* or passport containing the details of their parents.

Please note that stricter requirements may need to be adhered to in South Africa’s neighbouring countries.

The changes are as follows for minors travelling on foreign passports travelling to/from South Africa who are younger than 18 years old.

  1. If the minor’s surname is different to that of the parents travelling, then they must supply an original or copy of the birth certificate/equivalent document* or passport containing the details of the parents.

  2. If the minor is travelling with one parent only, they must provide an original or copy of their birth certificate/equivalent document*, a parental consent letter (not older than 6 months) with passport or ID details of the absent parent, and their contact details.

Alternatively the following will be required:

  • A letter of special circumstances**
  • A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship to the present parent
  • In case the other parent is deceased, then a death certificate will be required
  • In case the name of one parent only (Mother or Father) is on the birth certificate, then the parent must hold an original or a copy of a birth certificate/equivalent document* containing information about that parent only
  1. If the minor is travelling with another adult that is not the parent, they must have in their possession:

  • An original or a copy of a birth certificate/equivalent document*
  • Parental consent letters (not older than 6 months)
  • Copies of the passport(s)/identification document(s) of the parent(s)/legal guardian(s) and their contact details or a letter of special circumstances**
  • Where applicable: copy of death certificate, copy of adoption order or copy of court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights/legal guardianship in respect of the child
  1. If the minor is travelling unaccompanied, they must have in their possession:

  • A copy of their birth certificate
  • Parental consent letters
  • A copy of the passport(s)/identity document(s) of the parent(s) / legal guardian(s)
  • Contact details of the parent(s)/ legal guardian(s)
  • A letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing their residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will reside
  • A copy of the identity document / valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic

Where applicable:

  • Copy of an adoption order
  • Copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent/ parents or legal guardian;
  • Copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child
  1. Minors in alternative care (i.e. foster care, temporary safe care or in a youth care centre following a court order) need in their possession:

  • A valid passport
  • A letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising their departure from the Republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005)

*Equivalent Document:
In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of the parents of the travelling child.

**Letter of Special Circumstances:
Where parent/s recorded in a birth certificate/equivalent document are unable to consent to travel by the child due to recent death or mental or physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of parental consent by directing a request and full motivation, together with all supporting documents to the Office of the Director-General of Home Affairs: consent@dha.gov.za

If travellers arrive without the correct documentation and required birth certificate, they will be given 24 hours in order to obtain it.
  • All documents must be in English, except for the birth certificate.
  • The parental consent letter must be issued within six months prior to the date of travel.

These rules and regulations do not apply to:

  • South African minors travelling to South Africa.
  • Holders of a valid visa.
  • Holders of a temporary residence permit issued by South Africa.
  • Minors in transit in South Africa.

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