South Africa’s new entry rules: ethically sound but may deter family travel

May 22, 2015 | Expert Africa

Expert Africa - South Africa

From 1st June, parents travelling with children (under 18) may be asked to show the child’s full birth certificate, and where only one parent is accompanying, proof of parental or legal authority to travel with the child.

These tough new immigration rules, devised to tackle child abduction and the trafficking of young people, were originally to be implemented on 1st October 2014. Enforcement, however, was delayed, but from 1st June the controversial requirements become unavoidable.

This new red tape means that parents will soon need to produce an unabridged birth certificate showing both of their names and, if the document isn’t in English, a sworn translation is required.

For single parents, or those travelling alone with their child, the new code of practice is even less appealing. They will also need to produce an affidavit (no older than three months on the date of travel) in which the absent parent consents to the child travelling, a court order giving full parental responsibility or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the other parent.

If a child is travelling with adults who are not his or her parents, in addition to an unabridged birth certificate, they must also present an affidavit from the parents or legal guardians, plus copies of the biological parents’ passports and their contact details.

Chris McIntryre, MD of leading specialist safari operator Expert Africa, comments: “Whilst I applaud the ethical concerns that seem to have driven this South African legislation, I’m obviously concerned about South Africa becoming that bit harder to enter for some families.  South Africa’s Cape is malaria-free – it’s our most popular destination for families with young children. Cape Town, the Garden Route and the game reserves of the Eastern Cape are all really popular – and in fact I’ve taken my own young children there for the last two years for their first Africa trips.

“So we’re very apprehensive that this change might discourage visitors in any way – and seems to be particularly challenging for single parents, and other families who aren’t all travelling in the traditional structure of two ‘biological parents’”.

South Africa’s De Hoop Nature Reserve – a first-rate park that’s well off the beaten track. De Hoop Opstal – the only place to stay within the park – is particularly family-friendly and an ideal base for those wishing to experience the fantastic wildlife here which includes baboons and leopard tortoises. A nine-night family self-catering trip costs from £1,834 per adult and from £1,543 per child (aged 2-11, with four sharing) including overnight flights from London and car hire.

Speak to the team at Expert Africa on 020 8232 9777 (www.expertafrica.com). The specialist operator also covers Botswana, Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, the Seychelles, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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