16 September 2014

South Africa: New regulations for travelling children postponed to 2015

update (23 Feb 2015): According to Tourism Update, Mayihlome Tshete (spokesperson of Department of Home Affairs) told the tourism specialists that
"[...] the birth certificates required by South Africa’s immigration regulations would need to be in English. This is despite a joint statement released by the Departments of Tourism and Home Affairs that stated that a translation would not be required. Read this statement here. [...]" [src.]
update (16 Feb 2015): In his State of the Nation address on 12 Feb 2015, South Africa's President Jacob Zuma said the review of visa regulations - e.g. the requirement that people make visa applications in person and for children to travel with an unabridged birth certificate or the equivalent from their country - would be prioritised.
We will also prioritise the review of visa regulations to strike a balance between national security and growth in tourism. [src.]

South Africa's Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba has announced that the implementation of two new travel requlations, which require children to carry an unabridged birth certificate and a letter of permission from their parents or guardians in order to travel, has been postponed until 01 June 2015. The new regulations were initially set to come in effect on 01 July 2014, but due to widespread complaint the Department of Home Affairs granted a three-month reprieve and set 01 October 2014 as the new implementation date. The decision to delay the implementation again to 01 June 2015 followed talks between Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, South Africa's Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom and stakeholders in the tourism and aviation industry, in which the tourism industry raised concerns that there was not enough time to contact missions abroad and travel operators to communicate the new requirements, as well as parents did not have much time to acquire the requested documents before their planned travels.
[...] Subsequent to our meeting with the Minister of Tourism last month, Mr. Derek Hanekom, we have also met with tourism and aviation industry stakeholders including representatives from the IATA, ASATA the South African Tourism Council, and announced the formation of a joint task team between the Department and the industry as a vehicle for on-going engagement.

We are enormously pleased with the establishment of the task team, and trust that its representatives will bring invaluable perspectives and information on the tourism and travel sector, and help us improve communication with their clients and the sector as a whole.

We have further continued to engage with the representatives of the film industry and soccer fraternity.

The different stakeholders have drawn our attention to the challenges relating to the new requirements for travelling children, which come into effect on October 1st, 2014, which were instituted to ensure the safety of children, in line with the Children’s Act of 2005 and our own international obligations.

In particular, the stakeholders have highlighted challenges regarding the requirement that all children entering or exiting South Africa be in possession of a passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate, and written permission from both parents or guardians of the child, authorizing that child’s travel.

While the requirement that all children possess a passport has been implemented successfully, challenges have been raised regarding the requirements for the Unabridged Birth Certificate and written permission.

Stakeholders have alerted us to two main challenges: firstly, of ensuring accurate and timely communication to missions abroad, travel operators, and prospective travellers around the world about the new requirements; and secondly, that parents and those authorized to travel with children have time to obtain the required documentation in time for their travel plans.

It was put to the Department, that while the new regulations are accepted as necessary and are fully supported, due to these challenges mentioned above, and particularly in light of the upcoming peak travel periods for families – that is, December / January for the festive season and April for Easter – a postponement would greatly assist travellers and the sectors as a whole.

The Department has taken this input into consideration, along with our obligation to ensure the safety of children entering and exiting the country.

Having taken all of this into account, we have granted a postponement of these two particular requirements – the Unabridged Birth Certificate and written permission to June 1st 2015. [...] via "Statement by the Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP, in relation to the implementation of new immigration regulations on 16 September 2014 in Cape Town"  http://goo.gl/Sy6sZL

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