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Travelling to South Africa with Children under 18

If you are separated and are planning on travelling to South Africa with children, then it is important that you know of the immigration rules which can prevent travel if they are not complied with.  The team at McAlister Family Law regularly receive telephone calls from distressed parents who arrive at the airport to find that they cannot travel. If you are in that position, then contact our emergency helpline on 07835683796.

New immigration rules were introduced by the South African government in 2015 in relation to travelling with children under the age of 18. Parents or carers will be asked to show the child’s full, Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) which should set out the child’s full details and the details of both the child’s parents. An abridged or shortened birth certificate will not be acceptable, as it only lists the child’s information, not the parents and will not be accepted. The South African Department of Home Affairs are not accepting uncertified copies of birth certificates or copies of the parents or guardian’s identification.

Passing through South Africa en-route

The South African Department of Home Affairs currently advise that no supporting documents will be required by people in direct transit through a South African International Airport. However, it is recommended that you check with your airline or travel agent to see if you are likely to need to go through immigration upon arrival in South Africa, collecting luggage and being required to check in again. If you do go you will probably need to provide the correct documentation as required by the South African immigration authorities.

Travelling as a single parent

It is important to know that there are additional requirements for travel, if a child or children are travelling with only one parent, with neither biological parent, or if unaccompanied.

Click here to read the information that sets out requirements of South Africa and it is important that you familiarise yourself with what is needed before you commit to travelling.  

Other than the documents that you might expect would be required including original or certified copies endorse by a solicitor (simple copies will not be enough) of birth, marriage, divorce certificates etc, a Parental Consent Affidavit (PCA) will be required to enable a child to travel with one parent or other carer. This must be a signed and sworn under oath before a solicitor or a commissioner for oaths, and it must include the consent from the other parent who is registered on the child’s birth certificate. Without the above documentation, you will not be allowed to travel, or prevented from passing through immigration in South Africa upon arrival.

To see The Department of Home Affairs for South Africa's suggested format for such an affidavit click here.

Passport and Visas

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 30 days after the anticipated date of leaving South Africa. However, some immigration officials may still request that your passport and any child’s passports should have at least 6 months validity on the date of entering South Africa. To avoid any problems at the airport or on arrival, it is recommended that you meet this requirement and renew passports if necessary before travel.

If you are visiting South Africa for tourism or business purposes for a period of up to 90 days, you will not need a visa.

In any event we recommend that you contact your nearest South African High Commission if you have any specific questions about your trip, in addition with asking your own travel providers about any requirements that they are aware of.

We may also be able to provide advice and assistance regarding the preparation of affidavits or certifying documentation as required.

Contact Us

If you are need some help ahead of or during your trip to South Africa, contact our child law team today.

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