On 29 November, draft Amendments to the Immigration Regulations were published, which seem to have come into force and effect a mere 2 days later, on 1 December.

The draft contains changes to the travel rules for minors, which confirm the previous statements, but do not provide the much-needed further clarity.

They provide that:

  1. A passport that contains the parents’ details (as new South African passports do, for instance) replaces the (unabridged) birth certificate, ie. when traveling with such a passport, there is no need to carry a birth certificate.
  2. South African minors still need to provide all the documents required up until now.
  3. Non-South African children who are not visa exempt, i.e. have had to apply for a visa prior to arrival in South Africa, do not need to provide any further documents as they have already been presented together with the visa application.
  4. Children traveling with one parent only or with an adult who is not a parent, MAY be asked to produce the documents previously required. There is a strong recommendation to carry those documents. AND, if such documents cannot be presented within 24 hours of being requested, the persons may be refused entry or departure. This wording suggests that travelers in this situation who are unable to obtain the needed documents on the spot, might be held at the airport or border post for up to 24 hours. Clearly, traveling without the extensive documentation in this scenario seems to be a risky affair, and we would advise against it.
  5. Minors traveling without an adult need to present all the required documents.
  6. NB: The scenario of non-South African minors from visa-exempt countries (i.e. those who receive tourist visas on arrival) traveling with both parents is not listed in the draft. This suggests that these families do NOT have to produce the documents previously required. If this is indeed the intention and implemented as such, it will provide SOME relief to many families visiting South Africa.

Because the above could not yet be tested in practice, and because the changes will likely not be implemented consistently during the transition phase, our advice to be safe and carry the extensive documentation for the time being, stands. Therefore, and until further notice (please visit our newsbox regularly or follow us on LinkedIn), please continue to take along all the document required since 2015.