According to South Africa's Department of Home Affairs, child trafficking is a global problem that requires stricter legislation. To curb child trafficking, the department has come up with new regulations affecting families travelling with children under 18. This includes providing the unabridged birth certificate of each child under 18 (showing details of both parents), and consent from the other parent if only one parent is travelling with the child. These new rules came into effect on 1 June 2015 and while certain relaxations have been announced in Parliament subsequently, the regulations are still in force at the moment (May 2016). Let's summarise them.

Two parents travelling with children under 18

  • If both parents are travelling with a child under 18 years of age, they need an unabridged birth certificate (UBC) for the child.
  • The UBC is a complete birth certificate that shows the details of both parents. Bring the original document. A certified copy (certified as true copy of original by commissioner of oaths, less than 3 months old) is supposedly acceptable, however there have been several cases where a certified copy was not accepted by the airline, so it is best to bring the original UBC.
  • The child also needs a valid passport, of course (with at least 2 blank pages and expiring more than 6 months after return date).
  • Depending on the country of origin, the child may also need a visa to visit SA (not needed for the US, UK, Australia, NZ, Canada and most European countries)

One parent travelling with a child under 18

  • If only one parent is travelling with a child, an unabridged birth certificate is needed, in addition to passport and visa (if applicable).
  • A Parental Consent Affidavit (PCA) is needed from the other parent, giving permission to travel. (Must be an affidavit, not just a letter, less than 3 months old). Use the recommended wording for the PCA, available from the Home Affairs website.
  • In a case of death, divorce or separation where the consent of the other parent is not possible, a valid supporting document needs to be provided (such as death certificate, court order granting custody, etc). You may have to apply for special permission in advance if the other biological parent cannot or will not give consent, or if you are not in touch.
  • If your case is complicated, we advise you to read the official guidelines from Home Affairs (see link further down).

Another adult (not the parent) travelling with a child under 18

  • The UBC is required.
  • A Parental Consent Affidavit from both parents or legal guardian, less than 3 months old.
  • If the PCA is only from one parent, supporting documentation to show that parent has sole legal custody, or death certificate if applicable, etc.
  • Certified copies of ID or passport of both parents or legal guardians (certified by commissioner of oaths, less than 3 months old).
  • Contact details of parents or legal guardians.
  • Adoption papers if applicable.

Unabridged Birth Certificate

Again, if your case is complicated (single parent, adoption, separation, etc) or you are unable to obtain or supply the necessary UBC or PCA, we advise you to read the official guidelines from Home Affairs carefully before embarking on your trip. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct documents available. Airline staff will not allow you to board if you do not have the correct documentation.

Still have a question? Feel free to ask in the comments section below.


About the author


Onne Vegter is the managing director of Wild Wings Safaris. He has a deep love for Africa's people, wildlife and natural heritage. Onne has travelled to most of Africa's top safari destinations and his writing is based on years of personal experience in the safari industry. Follow him on Twitter at @OnneVegter.