On 1 June 2015, strict requirements were imposed for all children travelling to and from South Africa. Since then, our family team have seen numerous enquiries for what these new regulations mean for parents travelling to South Africa with their child.

  • “Will I be stopped at immigration?”
  • “I want to take my friend’s child on holiday – can I?”
  • “Help! – the father is named on my child’s birth certificate, but I can’t get his consent. What do I do?”

Here’s what you need to know

  • The regulations were imposed by the South African Government to try and crack down on child trafficking across South African borders. To do this, the authorities want to be satisfied that every child is travelling with the consent of all those with parental responsibility.
  • The regulations apply to all children under 18 years of age and to all nationalities. This means that even if you are travelling with your child for just a holiday or to visit family, the regulations still apply.
  • Parents travelling to or from South Africa must produce their child’s original unabridged birth certificate showing details of the child’s parents as recorded on the certificate.
  • If you are a parent travelling on your own with your child and your partner is staying at home, not only must you produce the birth certificate but also an Affidavit from your partner providing their written consent.
  • If the other parent named on the birth certificate refuses to give consent or is unable to do so, a Court Order or special dispensation of the South African Embassy will be required before travel.
  • If you are a third party travelling with a child – such as relative or family friend – in addition to the birth certificate and Affidavit requirements mentioned above, you will also need to produce certified copies of the parents’ passports and their contact details.

As you can imagine, the requirements are more onerous still if a child is travelling on his or her own or where a child is adopted.

Finally, you may just be passing through a South African airport in transit for an onwards journey elsewhere – don’t worry – the regulations do not apply to you.

How we can help

Further information can be found on the South African Department of Home Affairs website.

If you are in any doubt as to what is required of you to travel safely with your child to South Africa or elsewhere, please contact our family team for advice. We can also prepare any necessary Affidavit.

Timing is key – we would advise that you make sure you can comply with the regulations in plenty of time to ensure smooth travel. Please note however that any Affidavit has to be dated within three months of travel.

For further information on how our team can help with children, education, divorce and separation issues, please visit our service page.