Stay abreast of new Visa regulations for South Africa

The new visa regulations for South Africa came into effect on 1 June 2015. There are two aspects in particular which visitors need to note.

Parents or guardians travelling with children

Parents or guardians entering South Africa with minors are required to present an unabridged birth certificate of the children at the port of entry in South Africa, showing both parents’ details, in addition to a normal passport and visa. This condition applies to children under the age of 18 years, either travelling to or from South Africa.

The new visa regulations are mainly geared at countering human and child trafficking and improving border control and security. It has, since it has come into effect, been placed under review by South African tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, while the South African-based BRICS think tank has proposed less stringent regulations for international visitors from other BRICS countries, according to a report on www.qz.com.

Children travelling without parents

When a child is travelling with only one of his or her parents, the travelling parent will be required to provide a passport and unabridged birth certificate (with particulars of the parents), as well as an affidavit from the non-travelling parent giving express permission for the child to travel with the other parent. Legally separated parents should provide a court order when the other parent does not give consent.

In the case of a single parent, where the child’s unabridged birth certificate only reflects the name of one parent, parental consent from the absent parent is obviously not required. If the parent’s name does appear, the other parent must consent in an affidavit. If the absent parent cannot be traced, a letter of special circumstances must be applied for.

When a child is travelling with someone other than a parent, the following additional documents should be presented: an affidavit from the parents or legal guardian to state that the child is allowed to travel with that person; the contact details of the parents or legal guardian; copies of the identity documents and passports of the parents or legal guardian.

Should one of the parents be deceased, a death certificate must be produced. Where both the parents of the child are deceased and the child is travelling with a relative, the Director-General must approve such a person to enter into or depart from South Africa with that child. This affidavit may not be older than 3 months, dating from the date of travel.

Foreign visitors must apply in person

The new requirements also stipulate that foreigners who want to visit South Africa must apply for visas in person at South African embassies abroad. Visitors will also need to have their biometric data captured at an embassy, which is obtained through fingerprints.

Although collecting biometric information for visa application is a well-known best practice in many countries, South Africa’s visa processing centres in foreign countries may not be easily accessible to prospective international travellers.

To access the key points to remember when applying for a South African Visa, visit dha.gov.za.

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