South AfricaMay 21, 2015

Among the flurry of recent announcements from the South African immigration officials over the past several weeks, the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) will begin enforcing strict new document requirements for all minor children exiting and entering South Africa.

Thus, as of June 1, 2015, all minor children less than 18-years-old will be required to present an unabridged (long-form) birth certificate (showing the names of both parents) in order to enter or exit South Africa regardless of their nationality or if they are traveling with their parent(s)/legal guardian(s). Additional documents (detailed below) will be required for children traveling alone, with only one parent, or with adult(s) who are not their biological parent(s)/legal guardian(s).

Previous Postponement and Background of the Regulation

These new requirements were first introduced in September 2014 (see our earlier blog on the subject here) as part of an effort by the South African government to reduce the number of children falling victim to child trafficking, abduction, and other unlawful activities.

The DHA originally set the implementation date of these regulations as October 1, 2014. However, due to the significant feedback that the South African missions abroad, the in-country travel officers, and the affected travelers were not given sufficient time to roll out the regulations and/or obtain the necessary documentation, the implementation was postponed soon thereafter (see our subsequent blog here).

What’s Changed?

Within recent weeks, the DHA has confirmed that the regulation will be enforced as of June 1, 2015 and will affect all minor-aged children regardless of their nationality (South African or otherwise) traveling through all South African ports of entry and exit.

All travelers will be required to provide the following documents for each minor-aged child entering or exiting South Africa:

• If both parents/legal guardians are traveling with the child:

· Unabridged (long-form) birth certificate.

• If only one parent/legal guardian is traveling with the child:

· Unabridged (long-form) birth certificate;
· Letter of consent (affidavit) from the non-traveling parent/legal guardian authorizing the child to travel;
· If the parents are divorced, a copy of the divorce decree will also be required;
· If the parents are divorced and the other parent refuses to provide an affidavit, a court order must be provided; and
· In the case of a deceased parent, a death certificate must be provided.

• If the child will be traveling alone:

· Unabridged (long-form) birth certificate;
· Letter of consent (affidavit) from both parents/legal guardians authorizing the child to travel;
· Support letter from the individual who will be receiving the child in South Africa or abroad – must include his/her residential address and contact details;
· Copies, identification documents from the individual who will be receiving the child in South Africa or abroad; and
· Contact details of the child’s parents/legal guardians.

• If the child will be traveling with an adult who is not his/her biological parent:

· Unabridged (long-form) birth certificate;
· Letter of consent (affidavit) from both parents/legal guardians of the child authorizing the adult to travel with the child;
· Copies, identification documents of the child’s parents/legal guardians; and
· Contact details of the child’s parents/legal guardians.

In addition, the following document specifications must be adhered to:

• Birth certificates must be unabridged/long-form (i.e. must show both parents’ details);
• Letters of consent (affidavits) must have been executed within the previous three (3) months of the travel date;
• Any document not issued in English must be accompanied by a certified translation from a legally-recognized translator; and
• All documents must be originals or copies that have been duly notarized by a Notary Public or other equal and competent authority.

ACTION ITEMS FOR EMPLOYERS

All adults who intend to travel into or exit from South Africa with their minor-aged children must take close notice of these upcoming significant regulations. Depending on the country of origin, unabridged birth certificates can take upwards of several weeks to several months to be issued and parents will need to plan accordingly in order to avoid delays to their travel dates.

Employers in South Africa who are either bringing in foreign employees or sending their employees on assignments abroad (South African citizens or not) should also take close note of these new travel requirements and ensure that their employees are updated accordingly.

Pro-Link GLOBAL can provide case-specific details and document services upon request.

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Erratum: This alert originally misstated that the DHA would be ‘[introducing] a preliminary, four-month grace period for children who entered South Africa prior to June 1, 2015; have entered for an intended return trip; and who will be departing to complete their journey.” Although a grace period was originally planned when the regulations were published in 2014, no such grace period exists at this time. All minor children traveling to and from South Africa will be required to provide the necessary documentation laid out in this alert. Apologies for any confusion this may have caused.

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Caveat Lector | Warning to Reader

This is provided as informational only and does not substitute for actual legal advice based on the specific circumstances of a matter. Readers are reminded that Immigration laws are fluid and can change a moment’s notice without any warning. Please reach out to your local Pro-Link GLOBAL specialist should you require any additional clarification. This alert was prepared by Pro-Link GLOBAL’s Knowledge Management team. Pro-Link GLOBAL worked with our PLG | KGNM Correspondent Office in South Africa to provide you this update.

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