As of the 1st of June 2015, South Africa (RSA) is implementing new legislation with respect to the movement of children across South African borders. This affects all minor children travelling between South Africa and Swaziland, as well as between RSA and Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Lesotho as well as all destinations reached via flights into or out of South Africa. Download the latest info on these regulations via the link below, which includes templates that can be printed out for Parental Consent Affidavits (PCA’s).
Whilst there has been a huge outcry about the massive inconvenience that these regulations are going to cause travellers, it appears the South African Ministry of Home Affairs is fully intent on carrying out the amendment regardless of the cost to tourism flows.
So what remains is for us to be prepared. To understand the new rules please download the latest guidelines as to what is required for “minors”, that is, children under the age of 18 years, to enable them to travel across South Africa’s international boundaries. These latest guidelines were released on Monday the 18th May 2015. Please read them carefully so that you don’t get caught out, or caught in… or simply stumped.
We go further to provide answers to the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s):
Disclaimer: Kindly note that this information is provided in good faith, with a little tongue-in-cheek. It does not profess to be officially-endorsed, comprehensive, academically researched or of any particular value at all… but then again neither are these ridiculous new regulations:
Is a passport enough for a child to enter or exit South Africa?
Eeeerh – no! If you do not also have the child’s UBC in hand it’s a case of “Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200” your planned family trip is in deep-deep trouble. UBC – yeah – its stands for “Unabridged Birth Certificate” like UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, except UFO’s are generally easier to source in a hurry. And that’s not all that is needed depending on circumstances of divorce, single parents, orphans, lift clubs, school tours etc… read the damn PDF. PDF stands for Portable Document Format… just so you know. And for total clarity a PDF UBC is not acceptable. The UBC needs to be printed on paper, either original or as a certified copy.
So what do children now need to carry to cross a South African border?
Well – to start with it’s probably better that children don’t actually carry anything. Because if they were to loose that unabridged birth certificate that took you 9 months of stress, and 6 x repeat visits to a dreary government office to acquire – then there would be hell to pay!
What is an Unabridged Birth Certificate?
Too true, it’s confusing: a birth certificate is a birth certificate – it’s proof that you or your child exist in a system somewhere. And despite that your child may be a walking, talking human being standing at a border post or airline counter complete with a valid passport, if your child does not have a birth certificate on hand at the moment, they are as good as being dead. Which just might be the case if your reason for travel is a medical emergency. Ouch!
Unabridged is an English word, that appears to come from the stem word “bridge”, but “a bridge” is something that gets you somewhere, whereas “un-a-bridged” which is the the opposite, then should get you nowhere. But in this case an abridged birth certificate will get you nowhere and an unabridged birth certificate will get you somewhere. Take our word for it.
What is tavelling ?
We presume this question comes from the heading of the downloadable pdf from the South African Ministry of Home Affairs, that says: “SOUTH AFRICAN REQUIREMENTS FOR MINORS TAVELLING INTERNATIONALLY”. “Tavelling” is certainly another rare word… and almost as confusing as “unabridged”.
a. that it refers to “Tavel” – a wine-growing Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in the southern Rhône wine region of France, across the Rhône River from Châteauneuf-du-Pape AOC and just north of Avignon. As minors are not meant to be drinking wine, we doubt they would be “tavelling”, so its probably more likely that the author of this official pdf was just driven to drink.
b. that the South African Ministry of Home Affairs is just inventing new words. If Shakespeare could invent 1700+ new words out of nowhere as a lowly playwright, why can’t a whole Government Ministry with a multi-million budget and the power of life and death not add a few new gems to the every expanding English Dictionary.
c. it could be that the author of the PDF has a forged education certificate and doesn’t know how to spell “travelling”. Forged qualification certificates appear to be rife in South Africa, if media reports are to be believed, as are unabridged birth certificates likely to be in the immediate future.
d. It could just be a that the letter “r” has been stolen from between the “t” and the “a”, as theft is another common South African plague. R stand for “Rand”, the South African national currency and whilst the exchange rate is very favourable to most foreign currencies, it’s a common case of “easy come, easy go” if you’re not careful. You could easily be left “tavelling” on the charity of others.
Surely these new regulations are going to have negative economic impact on the South African economy?
Let’s not dwell on what a blind-man can clearly see. South African’s are a hardy bunch. They are survivors and pioneers. Its more likely that whole new industries will emerge. New insurance products like “Insure your unabridged birth certificate against loss or damage” could become all the rage. Loosing this piece of paper is much more damaging than loosing a passport. Passports can be replaced with emergency passports. Emergency unabridged birth certificates have not yet been born. The only way to get one is through through the blood, sweat and tears of labour pains – there’s no C-section option at Government Offices to speed up delivery.
There is also innovation space for new apps too – like “Find a your closest Commissioner of Oaths” or possibly a billion-dollar industry for Uber Commissioners of Oaths on the go.
Or what about labour-intensive hand-woven document bags? Because a simple protective passport cover is no longer going to cut it… a whole document bag is going to be needed for the passports, PCA’s, UBC’s, copies of copies etc.
But possibly the biggest economic growth could be in the sphere of Emergency Child Care Centres close to border posts… or maybe American-style holiday camps, where you can drop your kids to be entertained for the summer whilst you enjoy your international holiday trip.
Is this a pro-poor policy ?
You’ve got to be kidding? If rich people are currently ranting about all the added hurdles that need to be jumped over to afford their pampered offspring a foreign family holiday or a school trip to an exotic destination, imagine what the poorer folk are going through? They don’t have computers and printers at home to download the useful PDF documents and PCA templates attached to this post. They don’t have the liberty of car to drive all the way to a Home Affairs office for the 6th time to get a UBC. Nor do they have the budget to hire an attorney to hound that “poes” of an ex-husband who doesn’t want to sign a PCA. And it would be unlikely that they’d have the funds to hire a courier to transport a signed document from a spouse pursuing migrant work in Cape Town, up to a waiting child in Komatipoort. The world is just going to get smaller for the children of poor people!
What were they thinking ?
In terms of “they” we presume you are referring to the the South African Ministry of Home Affairs. They in this case have been quoted as saying that these new regulations were promulgated to put a halt to child smuggling. The fact of the matter is that child smugglers do not adhere to the law anyway and will continue their nefarious ways regardless of this new paper trail that has been created. What is more likely is that child smuggling will just increase. Previously honest families may very well end up taking short cuts to get across borders, when they find circumstances are against them jumping over all the hurdles now in the way of travel. Hide & seek in the boot…
Let the fun begin – the 1st of June 2015 is almost upon us.