Home Affairs relaxes travel requirements for child tourists


Home Affairs Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, has signed a waiver that allows foreign children to enter the country without carrying additional supporting documents such as birth certificates and consent letters.

The waiver has been applicable since 8 November 2019 – after the Minister’s signature.

“This improvement in our admissions policy builds on the work the department has been doing to contribute to economic growth and investment. As of [8 November 2019], foreign children can enter and depart the country without being required to provide birth certificates, consent letters and other supporting documents relating to proof of parentage,” Motsoaledi said.

The Department of Home Affairs has communicated the changes to immigration officials at all ports of entry and to the airline and maritime industries.

South African children are still required to provide supporting documents, in line with the requirements of the Children’s Act. The same applies to unaccompanied foreign children.

Foreign children who require a visa for South Africa do not need to carry the supporting documents for inspection at a port of entry since these would be processed together with their visa applications.

“It is significant that we have completed the policy changes in the week in which President Cyril Ramaphosa hosted the second Investment Conference.

“We anticipate that this change will have a positive impact on tourism as we approach the holiday season,” Motsoaledi said.

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) welcomed the waiver on the requirement for foreign minors to carry unabridged birth certificates when travelling to South Africa.

“This is welcome relief and will help South Africa regain its competitive position as an attractive tourism destination,” remarked AASA CEO, Chris Zweigenthal.

Although intended to curb human trafficking, AASA estimates the country’s travel, tourism and hospitality industries lost hundreds of millions of rands over the past five years as a direct result of the restrictions and how they were implemented.

“Losses were felt as trade went to places that were easier to visit. At the same time local operating costs increased and margins compressed. As a result, jobs were lost, livelihoods negatively affected and revenues derived from taxes declined. Reforms such as this waiver will help to strengthen the entire sector and contribute towards the economic rejuvenation of South Africa and the region. This is a good start, but there are still other corrective interventions to be made and unnecessary red tape to be slashed”, added Zweigenthal.