New regulations for travelling children postponed to 2015

Cape Town - People planning to travel with children over the holidays can breathe a sigh of relief. Tough new immigration laws pertaining to minors have now been postponed until next year. Video: eNCA
FILE image of children watching aeroplanes at Warsaw airport in Poland, August 2013. Photo: Flickr.com / Éole Wind

PARLIAMENT - The implementation of two of the new immigration regulations on travelling minors will again be delayed, this time until June 1, 2015, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced on Tuesday.

This refers to the requirements that children be in possession of an unabridged birth certificate and have written permission from both parents or guardians authorising the child's travel.

"We have granted the postponement of these two particular requirements -- the unabridged birth certificate and written permission, to June 1, 2015," Gigaba told reporters at Parliament.

The regulations had been due to take effect on July 1 but sparked widespread complaint, with parents protesting that it could take up to a year to obtain an unabridged birth certificate from the department.

The department then granted a three-month reprieve and set October 1 as the new implementation date.

However, Gigaba said stakeholders told the department this did not leave enough time to inform the travel industry and missions abroad of the new rules, nor did it give parents enough time to acquire the necessary documents.

The tourism industry pointed out that the regulations could affect families' travel plans for Christmas.

The minister again suggested that the outcry partly arose because the new requirement for a birth certificate was not properly understood by foreigners wanting to travel to South Africa with their children.

"An unabridged birth certificate is merely a birth certificate from the responsible authority in their country which lists the particulars of the child's parents.

"In the instance where the information is contained on the child's passport, this too shall be acceptable."

To ease the logistical concerns of South African parents the department would speed up efforts to produce unabridged birth certificates for some 16 million children born in the country between 1996 and February 2013.

In March 2013, it began issuing unabridged certificates on the spot for all children at birth registration.

Gigaba insisted that South Africa had no intention of changing the new travel regulations, and said it would likewise stick to plans to do away with the late registration of births from the end of the year.

"Most elements of the new regulation are working well," he said.

"This is despite some asymmetries of information which have further compounded anxiety and inertia with regard to particular aspects of the new regulations."

-Sapa

* For more on this story, watch the video in the gallery above.

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