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The South African departments of home affairs and tourism have finally announced that the controversial visa laws, which required all minors travelling to or from South Africa to present an unabridged birth certificate, will be replaced in favour of an updated passport for minors with printed details of both parents. This is due to come into effect over the next three to 12 months. 


Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), Mkuseli Apleni, addressed media on Friday to relay the progress made since the announcement of the amendment programme outlined by the Inter Ministerial Committee (IMC) at the end of October last year.

Despite much upheaval from the tourism industry about the DHA taking the full three months allowed to the department in order to put the IMC changes into effect, Apleni said at the briefing, “We are indeed on course”.

The DHA said going forward, South Africans applying for new passports for minors will receive a document detailing both parents’ particulars, and that this would be the accepted travel document instead of the unabridged birth certificate. The process, however, still needs to be rolled out.

The requirement for South Africans to have two versions of the birth certificate – an abridged (issued for newborns up until 2013) and an unabridged birth certificate detailing both parents details (issued to all new borns since 2014) – has not been scrapped, since all parents still need to apply for these when registering their babies, the department said.

What will change over the next three to 12 months is the requirement to travel with the birth certificate document, since the new updated version of the passport will become the recognised travel document.

Added to this, the department said international visitors who have gone through the process of applying for a visa in order to enter South Africa, would not be required to provide birth certificate identification provided both parents are travelling with the minor. Parents of minors from visa exempt countries are, however, advised to strongly travel with the birth certificate, should it be requested by immigration officials.

Additional priorities to be addressed in the next three months include: 

– Adding visa facilitation centres in Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates and Botswana.

– Considering a visa-waiver for India, China, Russia and other countries.

– Looking at issuing visas on arrival for persons travelling to South Africa with valid visas for the UK, USA and Canada or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, to ease travel for tourists.

– Considering granting a certain category of frequent travellers – business and academics – from Africa a 10-year Multiple Entry Visitor’s Visa.

– Opening two Business Visa Facilitation Centres in Durban and Port Elizabeth, in addition to the centre recently opened in Sandton.

Africa Geographic Travel
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