Confirmation below: Deadline postponed until end of September 2014
Cape Town - The department of home affairs has reportedly backed down on the short-notice announcement of new travel requirements for parents travelling with kids.
The amendment to the Immigration Act regulation 6 requires anyone travelling to or from South Africa with children under the age of 18 to be in possession of a fully unabridged birth certificate, in addition to a valid passport by 1 July.
According to a EWN report on 94.5 KFM, a spokesperson for home affairs said that they have taken the upcoming school holidays into account, and decided to move the deadline for the acquisition of these documents to the end of September 2014 instead.
This follows an outcry from the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata) who said that the new rules are bound to cause chaos for families travelling in the next few months, as applications for these documents could take up to eight weeks to be processed.
Otto de Vries, CEO of Asata said in a statement, "Our understanding is that until recently unabridged birth certificates were not issued automatically and that people have to apply for them. This can be a lengthy process, and this is a major concern for our travellers.
De Vries said the organisation recognised the need for the new regulation, to curb the global issue of child trafficking. But added that Asata was concerned about the implications for the industry if it was implemented immediately, citing the school holidays were only days away.
"Stake holders such as travel agents, airlines, tour operators and airport staff worldwide need appropriate notice in order to be educated on such changes in regulations, we can only foresee confusion and negative outcomes for the South African travel industry."
Asata said it was working with other partner associations within the business and travel community to engage with the relevant government bodies to have this new regulation delayed, so as to allow the industry to put the necessary requirements in place.
Asata advises all those passengers travelling, in the near future, with children, to take note of this regulation and to ensure that they take the necessary actions to avoid disappointment and delays in their travel plans.
Statement by the Department of Home Affairs of 10 June: Pretoria – The Department of Home Affairs has provided a grace period to allow children to travel with parents or guardians without an unabridged birth certificate until end of September 2014.
This means that families will be able to travel with children even for the coming school holidays as some would have made the necessary arrangements ahead of the commencement of the Immigration Amendment Acts of 2007 and 2011 and the new Immigration Regulations. The Amendment Acts and the new Regulations came into effect on 26 May 2014.
From 01 October 2014, the requirement for an unabridged birth certificate for children travelling with parents will come into effect for the safety of children, including their protection from child trafficking, abduction and kidnapping.
The Department urges citizens and foreign nationals to heed the call to apply for unabridged birth certificates for children. An unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents is required in terms of the Immigration Regulation 6 (12)(a) for children travelling with parents.
Enquiries: David Hlabane, 071 527 9463 and Thabo Mokgola, 071 712 9710.
IMCOSA - Immigration Consultants South Africa - Visa Services, Immigration Agents