Travelling with Children to/from South Africa.

New laws and regulations for travelling with children to or from South Africa came into effect on 1 June 2015. It was done to try and prevent child trafficking and means that you need to obtain some extra documents before you travel to South Africa. If you don’t have the required documents you may be turned away from boarding your flight. 

Here is a Question & Answer session to help clarify what’s needed:

Q. Who does this new law affect?

A. Anyone travelling to or from South Africa through any border with a child under the age of 18 years, whether it be their own child or not.

Q. What documents are needed? 

A. All children under 18 years old arriving or departing South Africa are required to have an unabridged birth certificate (original or certified copy), their valid passport, and any visas as required. 

Q. What is an Unabridged Birth Certificate? 

A. An Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) is a birth certificate that reflects the particulars of both parents of the child. 

Q. So what’s the big deal?

A. There are variables as to what additional documents are required depending who the child is travelling with. This changes according to such things as, the marital status of parents, whether both parents are still alive, if it’s a foster carer or adopted child, whether the child is travelling with a friend/teacher/relative…etc.  IT’S COMPLICATED!  That’s why we suggest you visit an excellent interactive tool on the Drive South Africa website, whose drop-down menu will help unravel exactly what you will need.

Q. What if the certificates are not in English, if they aren’t even available in my country, or I can’t get an affidavit stating the required information? 

A. Documents issued in others languages are acceptable, but a verified translation is recommended. If your country doesn’t produce an unabridged birth certificate, you should produce a letter from an authority stating this fact and obtain an equivalent document containing the particulars of both parents, or an affidavit (written statement sworn to be true verified by a Commissioner of Oaths or equivalent).  You can have an affidavit issued at the South African Embassy in your country free of charge.

Q. What will happen if I don’t have the required documentation? 

A. Airlines are bound by this new law and will not allow you to travel without the correct paperwork. There have been cases where tourists have been turned away from the check-in desk and not allowed to travel.

Here at Fair Trade Safaris, we will remind you long before your departure about any regulations you need to meet, but if planning a safari, start getting your documents prepared now. Then look forward to smooth sailing all the way to Africa!

Happy Travels!


Saurabh Khetrapal

I am a recovering tech entrepreneur and angel investor. Now, my passions and life's missions are to impact the local communities, the wildlife, and the environment in Africa. I am the founder of Fair Trade Safaris, an organization that offers amazing African safaris and travel experiences and donates 100% of its profits to a variety of community development and wildlife conservation projects in Africa.