Home Affairs tables changes to unabridged birth certificate legislation

Children will no longer need unabridged birth certificates to travel in and out of South Africa on SA Airlines or indeed any other major international airlines. But there's a catch. As part of a drive to modernise their processes, Home Affairs have dropped the need for children to travel with unabridged birth certificates - but only if both parents are listed in the child's passport.

Children who do not have their parent’s full names in their passports still need to produce the unabridged birth certificate. This mostly affects children with foreign passports but parents of South African children will need to get a new passport issued to include their details.

Reducing barriers to travel

The update will make a huge difference in the lives of parents travelling with children. The controversial law has caused many to be stranded at airports without the correct documentation and the long delay for issuing unabridged birth certificates from Home Affairs has meant many families had to cancel their trips.

The upgrade to children’s passports will include full parental details at the back of the passport, eliminating the need for additional documents to be issued and presented at check-in.

The Department of Home Affairs Director-General, Mkuseli Apleni, told 94.7, “When you apply for the passport of the child, the system will automatically go into the National Population Registry (NPR) and say these are the parents of the child and print them at the back of the passport. They will no longer need to carry a birth certificate.”

To increase safety and curb rising child trafficking statistics, the department changed its legislation in 2014 which introduced the new law that required all children to travel with unabridged birth certificates. The effects were detrimental to the South African travel industry.

The rule did not apply to parents travelling locally and cheap flights to Durban and other major South African cities increased tourism within the country as many families had no choice but to stay local.

Forward-thinking approach

The changes to this legislation will simplify the process and put South Africa in line with many other countries that already list children’s parent’s details in their passports. However, travellers to South Africa would still need to present their children’s birth certificates if their passports did not carry details of both parents.

Despite this, Apleni would like to see it implemented worldwide as he told Primedia Broadcasting in an interview that they have suggested to the international body which manages the issues of travelling globally that children's passports should have details of the parents.

“If this can be approved, it means it will now be applicable to the whole world,” said Apleni.

Home Affairs, it would seem is finding ways of ‘meeting the future’ by embracing advancements in technology and rising to the opportunities it presents. Alongside the changes to children’s passports and birth certificate requirements, a new automated biometric ID system will be phased in during the latter half of 2018, with system upgrade rollouts across the country and the introduction of paperless applications.