New Laws Pertaining to Traveling with a Child to South Africa

by Sandy Salle on June 17, 2015

Planning on traveling to South Africa with your child? If so, it’s super important to keep in mind South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs’ new laws pertaining to traveling with minors (children under the age of 18). The new laws were effective on June 1, 2015 and were put in place in order to reduce (and hopefully eliminate) child trafficking across South African borders.

But the laws aren’t as simple as “show your child’s birth certificate.” There are several different documents that parents will need to show in order to bring their children on a South Africa safari vacation. Not to mention there are several different scenarios that warrant different types of documents. For example, a single parent traveling with a minor, or two parents traveling with a minor (both biological parents but different last names), a child traveling alone, etc.

So as you can see, it gets a bit harry when it comes to figuring out what documents are needed!

Below are the documents you will need for three different scenarios (but there are dozens of others, which I will show you how to handle in a moment):

Child traveling with BOTH parents:

Documents needed include –

  • Unabridged birth certificate
  • Valid passport

Child traveling with ONE parent:

Documents needed include –

  • Unabridged birth certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Affidavit that grants permission for the parent to travel with the child alone and / or court order that gives parent permission to be fully responsible for the child
  • Legally separated parents provide a court order when other parent does not give consent
  • Death certificate if one parent is deceased.

Child traveling with a GUARDIAN only:

Documents needed include –

  • Unabridged birth certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Affidavit from the parents or legal guardian to state child is allowed to travel – name guardian
  • Contact details of the parents or legal guardian
  • Copies of the identity documents and passports of the parents or legal guardian
  • If both parents deceased Director-General must approve guardian to accompany child
  • If adopted provide adoption certificate

Unaccompanied child:

Documents needed include –

  • Unabridged birth certificate
  • Valid passport
  • Affidavit or court order with contact details signed by both parents or legal guardian giving permission to travel
  • Contact details, certified copies of the identity document or passport of the person the child is staying with
  • Letter from the person receiving the child (to include contact details and physical address)

Is your head spinning yet from all those different scenarios? Well, fear not, there is an app that can help you figure out what documents you need! The app, which is called the South African Child VISA Checklist App, was created by Andre Van Kets who says that there are “15 different documents and 37 unique scenarios for children traveling in and out of South Africa.”

This app is designed to simplify the process in figuring out what documents you need for traveling with a minor. All you have to do is download the app and answer two to three multiple-choice questions that will then generate a list of the appropriate documents you’ll need.

The questions ask about whom the child is traveling with. Specifically, the questions cover the status of the parents (divorced, married, etc.), as well as any special circumstance, such as if the child is adopted, if both parents are alive, etc.

The app, which can be downloaded on your mobile device or computer desktop, then generates a list of documents you’ll need, based on your responses. The app also includes links to official documents from the Department of Home Affairs, as well as frequently asked questions.

Below are some screenshots of the South African Child VISA Checklist app:

child visa checklist1

South Africa child visa

South Africa child visa

South Africa child visa

South Africa child visa

Below are some stats and background information regarding the app, provided to us by Andre Van Kets, the app creator:

South Africa Child Visa Checklist — stats from first two weeks usage:

  • App viewed more than 8000 times
  • Viewed by people from 102 countries
  • Shared more than 1300 times on Facebook
  • We’ve started receiving “Thank you” emails from travel agencies abroad, who are using the tool to advise their clients travelling to South Africa

Background info:

  • Launched 30 May 2015
  • The original idea was to create a tool that helps our own internal team understand the new regulations better
  • The idea quickly turned into a web-app that anyone should be able to access (essential go “open source” with the concept)
  • The app has been designed to be user-friendly, with a simple 3-step process that works out what documents are needed for 37 different child-travel scenarios
  • The app is accessible from any browser (no download needed)
  • The app works on mobile and desktop

“We consulted with Johannesburg-based legal firm Schindlers Attorneys to ensure the app’s info is accurate — specifically, the app was vetted by Megan Harrington-Johnson at Schindlers Attorneys in Johannesburg. Megan has studied the new laws closely and voiced concerns about the new child visa laws publicly. See more here http://www.enca.com/south-africa/live-discussion-updated-travel-regulations-affecting-parents-and-their-children – at 16 minutes and again at 18min30sec into the video you’ll see some of Megan’s well-founded views on the situation, especially for single mothers.” – Andre Van Kets

Try out the app for yourself at http://www.drivesouthafrica.co.za/child-visa-checklist/

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