Birth certificates and visa re

Birth certificates and visa reform: despite extension, new laws are here to stay

Parents have been granted a grace period until 1 June 2015 to gather birth certificates for their children if they’re planning to travel in or out of South Africa in the foreseeable. While making upcoming Christmas travel plans easier for thousands of expats around the globe, it remains advisable for parents to get their documentation ready and in order for when the new laws finally do kick in, as Home Affairs confirms that the guidelines aren’t going anywhere

Birth certificates and visa re

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has announced an extension to the laws requiring extra documentation for traveling children until 1 June 2015.

The new guidelines saying that children will need to present an unabridged birth certificate when leaving and entering South Africa had been putting a great deal of pressure on expat families and stifling the tourism sector’s outlook for the upcoming summer and Christmas season in SA.

The main reason for the extension is thought to be a lack of service delivery on part of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) itself. Home Affairs is reportedly struggling to keep up with the high demand to produce unabridged birth certificates. With a significant backlog of document requests at the DPA, it has been rated as one of the country’s most underperforming government departments. For recent births registered since March 2014, Home Affairs has started issuing unabridged birth certificates as a matter of course; however, for births predating March 2014, unabridged birth certificates must be specifically requested.

Children with passports from other countries will have to present unabridged birth certificates from their respective countries of nationality.

The new law also requires that children travelling without both parents will need to produce written permission authorising the child’s travel, signed by each parent. This upcoming requirement is expected to further complicate future travel plans — especially in the case of separated and divorced families

The South African government had introduced these travel regulations as part of its new Immigration Act, which are designed to combat child trafficking issues inter alia, but have effectively started discouraging family travel into the country. Foreigners are also suffering with getting long-term visas to SA – whether they intend to conduct business or reunite with family members, including their spouses and children.

The new law, as issued in the Government Gazette on 26th May 2014, will eventually require parents and legal guardians of any nationality arriving in and departing from South Africa (including South African nationals) to produce unabridged birth certificates for the children they are travelling with – in addition to their passports. If the birth certificates are not written in English they will have to be accompanied by notarised translations.