Amended Immigration Regulations - Effective 1 December 2018



The updated regulations in respect of foreign minors (all children under 18 years of age) travelling to and from South Africa have been gazetted and published and came into effect on 1 December 2018. They are attached as Annexure A.

The Department of Tourism is liaising with the Airline industry and there will be a further communication when the airlines have updated their systems and are ready to board passengers according to the amended regulations. Meanwhile this is what the amended regulations mean.

South African Minors


Relatively minor changes will be brought into effect by the amended regulations in respect of South African child travellers entering or leaving South Africa. New South African child passports are being issued containing details of the parents as a standard feature. Children travelling with both parents and in possession of such a passport need no other documentation, whilst children travelling with both parents and on a passport that does not have those details will still be required to carry a birth certificate (unabridged) with the details of their parent(s). 

South African children not travelling with both parents will still be required to produce additional documentation, including consent letters, adoption orders, custody or guardianship papers and death certificates, as the case may be. However, the consent letter no longer has to be on a Department of Home Affairs (DHA) template or be an affidavit, and copies of documents are sufficient and need not be certified. 

Foreign Minors 

In terms of foreign minors, the following are the salient changes which now apply:

 Visa Exempt Countries: 

copies of original documents are sufficient and need not be certified; 

  •   Consent and authorization is simply in the form of a letter and need not be notarized or be an affidavit;
  •  Children travelling with both parents need no extra documentation, however if there is a situation where the surname is different, carrying proof of parental relationship is advised;
  •  In the event of a minor not travelling with both parents, but travelling with an adult, other documentation may be requested and it is strongly advised that such documentation be carried, being a birth certificate and other supporting documents such as a letter of consent, court orders or death certificate(s) as appropriate. A period of 24 hours is provided for to acquire such documents on arrival if they are requested and are not in the traveller’s possession; 
  • In the event of a minor travelling alone, additional documentation must be carried;
  • A birth certificate (copy) to satisfy the immigration processes should contain details of the parent(s). 

Visa Required Countries:

  •  The requirements for children traveling with only one parent or another adult from visa requiring countries have been retained. This means that they have to produce the documentation on application for a visa, and a copy of a birth certificate will be required when applying for any child visa;

 Should the adult(s) travelling with a child on a visa change from what was stated on the visa application due to unavoidable short term circumstances, the travelling adult(s) are also advised to carry the same documentation as above (for visa exempt travellers).   
Please note – the key change is that:


 Child travellers and accompanying adults will only be stopped and asked questions, and possibly be required to provide additional documentation in exceptional cases where there may be grounds for suspicion or in “high risk situations”.

The above is outlined in the 25th September 2018 press statement of the then Minister of Home Affairs, when he stated that “Our immigration officials will only insist on documentation by exception – in high risk situations – rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries.”

Travel advice for forwarding to trade and customers and for use on websites and other communication platforms is attached as Annexure B. 

Further Background
These minor traveller documentation requirements are in line with many other countries including Canada and the UK.
For instance, these are excerpts from the UK’s “Children Travelling to the UK” Leaflet.

“If you are travelling with a child (under 18) and are not the child’s parent, or may appear not to be the parent …………………  It may help you next time you travel if you could carry evidence of your relationship with the child and/or the reason why you are travelling with the child.

This evidence could include copies of:

• a birth or adoption certificate showing your relationship with the child •  divorce / marriage certificates if you are the parent but have a different surname to the child • a letter from the child’s parent/s giving authority for the child to travel with you and providing contact details if you are not the parent”.

The Canadian guidelines carefully list the documents required in each specific case, (adopted, one parent travelling, deceased parent, guardian as applicable) and then state:

“The Border Services officer may not ask to see these documents when the child enters Canada. However, it is strongly recommended you bring them in case that you are asked. The minor child will not be admitted to Canada if the officer is not convinced that the parents or legal guardian have authorized his stay.”

The new regulations are also in line with the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial  Committee led by then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa which were finalized in October 2015. Their recommendations were followed by the statement:

“this would remove the obligation from airlines to verify documentation. Immigration officers will retain the discretion to, at random, request additional evidence and that suspicious individuals may be questioned and additional information sought on their circumstances and corroborated.” 

IATA has accepted these new regulations and have confirmed this with the Department of Home Affairs in writing. IATA has further confirmed that the amended regulations, which follow the practice of countries such as the UK do remove the requirement for airlines to verify documentation of minor travelers [other than when they are traveling alone].   


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