Immigration regulations for travelling with children – explained

  • Immigration regulations for travelling with children – explained

    With the deadline of 1 June 2015 looming, many travellers are still unsure of the practical implications of travelling to and from South Africa with minors. So here are the basics explained according to the latest information published by the Department of Home Affairs.

    What is it?

    In short, the way the movement of people in and out of South Africa is handled has now changed and this affects adults travelling with children.

    • Please note this does not apply to children travelling domestically – i.e. within South Africa. Only children who enter or exit our borders are affected.
    • Also, if you are going on a cruise that does not stop at any international harbour, but departs from and returns to a South African one, you are not affected.


    It is felt that increased regulations on the movement of children into and out of South Africa could contribute to the prevention of child-trafficking.


    The official date for implementation of this regulation is 1 June 2015.

    In practise…

    The basic document needed is an Unabridged Birth Certificate, but there are additional documents that may apply. If you are travelling with children on or after 1 June 2015 and do not present the correct paperwork, you may be denied boarding – whether you are travelling by land, sea or air. Foreigners with documents in a language other than English will need a certified translation of the documents from their home authorities.

    Who does it affect?

    All adults travelling with children into or out of South Africa will be affected.

    The categories are as follows:

    • Both parents travelling with child/ren
    • One parent travelling with a child/ren
    • Guardian travelling with child/ren

    Please download the Department of Home Affairs booklet for details. Click here.


    For South Africans, our advice is to go ahead and apply for your Unabridged Birth Certificate whether you are planning to travel internationally or not. You only have to apply for this once:

    • Visit your nearest Home Affairs office.
    • Take along your green ID book and your child’s current birth certificate or ID (you will need the original documentation).
    • It will cost you R75 for the Unabridged Birth Certificate.
    • If your child was born after 14 March 2013, his/her Unabridged Birth Certificate would have been issued automatically.