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New South African immigration rules

Travelling with minors - New Laws

The Department of Home Affairs adjusted the requirements for minors (all children under the age of 18) travelling to or from the Republic of South Africa in November 2019.

The laws are both for children entering into and exiting out of South Africa, at all South African ports of entry/departure. If you are travelling within South Africa, these do not apply to you (for example: Port Elizabeth to Durban). The laws are intended to assist with the fight against human trafficking, which is prevalent through South Africa. The onus lies with the passengers to ensure they have the correct documentation, else boarding will be denied.


1.1. The documents listed under paragraph 2 must on request be produced at a port of entry by South African children entering and leaving the Republic, as well as by unaccompanied minors, regardless of their nationalities.

1.2. Foreign children who apply for a South African visa at any mission or VFS service point must submit, as part of the applications, the documents required under paragraph 2 prior to such visa being issued.







  • valid passport
  • copy of a birth certificate / equivalent document or passport containing the details of the parent or parents of the child
  • valid passport


  • valid passport
  • copy of a birth certificate/equivalent document
  • parental consent letter
  • copy of the passport / identity document of the absent parent
  • contact details of the absent parent
  • where applicable-
    • copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child.
    • copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent
  • valid passport


  • valid passport
  • copy of a birth certificate/equivalent document
  • parental consent letter(s)
  • copy of the passport(s)/ identity document(s) of the parent(s)/legal guardian(s)
  • contact details of the parent(s)/legal guardian(s)
  • where applicable-
    • copy of a death certificate
    • copy of an adoption order
    • copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights / legal guardianship in respect of the child.
  • valid passport


  • copy of his /her birth certificate
  • parental consent letters
  • copy of the passport(s)/identity document(s) of the parent(s) / legal guardian(s)
  • contact details of the parent(s)/ legal guardian(s)
  • letter from the person who is to receive the child in the Republic, containing his / her residential address and contact details in the Republic where the child will reside
  • copy of the identity document / valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the child in the Republic
  • where applicable-
    • copy of an adoption order
    • copy of a death certificate of the deceased parent/ parents or legal guardian;
    • copy of a court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or legal guardianship in respect of the child


  • valid passport
  • letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising his or her departure from the Republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005). 


3.1. South African children travelling on South African passports may travel to South Africa without birth certificates.

3.2. Supporting documents are not required where children are in direct transit at an international airport.

3.3. Children in possession of valid South African visas are not required to produce the documents already submitted as part of their visa applications when travelling through a port of entry of the Republic.

3.4. A child presenting a passport which contains the details of his or her parent or parents is not required to produce a birth certificate/equivalent document.

3.5. In the case of school tours, the parental consent letter may be replaced with a letter from the school principal confirming that all consent letters are held by the school.  Upon producing this letter, immigration officers at ports of entry and South African missions abroad would not require any additional documents from individual scholars such as parental consent, birth certificates, death certificates, court orders or copies of the passports or identity documents of the parents and of the person receiving the child in SA. This special dispensation applies to all schools registered with the Department of Basic Education in South Africa and its equivalent abroad in respect of South African and visa required children. Download the suggested format for this letter here.



Where parent/s recorded in a BC/ equivalent document are unable to consent to the travel by a child due to recent death or mental or physical disability, persons acting on behalf of the child/children may apply for a special dispensation in lieu of parental consent by directing a request and full motivation, together with all supporting documents (for example, treating medical practitioners certificate), to the Office of the Director-General of Home Affairs, at the following e-mail address: consent@dha.gov.za


This dispensation only applies to incapacity, and not where a parent is either unwilling to consent or unable to be located due to separation or divorce.

Where a parent refuses to give consent, a court order in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), may be presented in lieu of parental consent.


Alternative Care 

  • Section 167 of the Children’s Act, 2005 (Act No. 38 of 2005), states that a child is in Alternative Care if the child has been placed in:
    • foster care; 
    • the care of a child and youth care centre following an order of a court in terms of that Act or the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act No. 51 of 1977); or
    • temporary safe care.

Birth Certificate

  • An extract from the Birth Register containing the particulars of a child and his / her parent(s). Birth certificates containing the details of a child as well as his/her parent/s are accepted for the purposes of these Requirements regardless of the country of issue.
  • In the case of countries that do not issue BC, an ’Equivalent Document’ containing the particulars of the child and his / her parent/s, issued by the competent authority of that country, or an embassy of that country may be produced. Suggested format for Equivalent Document is available here


  • South African law regards any person younger than 18 years as a child.

Equivalent Document

  • In the case of countries that endorse the particulars of parents in children’s passports, or other official identification documents, these documents shall be acceptable for the purpose of establishing the identity of the parents of the travelling child.

Letter of special Circumstances

  • Letter issued by the Director-General of Home Affairs in lieu of parental consent in the event of recent death or mental or physical disability.


  • Unless the context indicates otherwise, the word “parent” includes adoptive parents and legal guardians.

Parental Consent Letter

  • must accompany a BC when any parent is not travelling with his or her child;
  • must not be older than 6 months when presented;
  • Suggested format of the Parental Consent letter is available here: ParentalConsentLetter




Where to obtain an Unabridged Birth Certificate:

  • For children born in South Africa: Contact your local Home Affairs Office. Given that it can take a minimum of 8 weeks for an unabridged birth certificate to be issued when applying for it in South Africa, we strongly advise for you to apply for the documentation sooner rather than later if you are planning on travelling.
  • For children born in Belgium: ask the Belgian municipality where the child was born for a multilingual extract of the birth certificate (in het Nederlands: meertalig uittreksel uit de geboorteakte, en français: extrait de l’acte de naissance multilingue), which comes in 4 languages (including English), showing the details of the parents and the child. If the birth of a Belgian child in a foreign country was registered in the registers of civil status of a Belgian municipality, you can also contact that Belgian municipality. For children younger than the age of 12 and residing in Belgium the Kids ID can be used as a substitute for the “unabridged birth certificate” as it shows the parents and is in English. For minors between 12 and 18 the required documents apply.
  • For children born elsewhere: the local authority where the child was born

Where to obtain a Parental Consent Affidavit (ouderlijke toestemming/ consentement parental):

  • In South Africa and other countries: please consult this document
  • In Belgium: address your local Belgian municipality and ask for a multilingual document
  • Please note: Affidavit cannot be older than 4 months and has to be in English or an English version, and has to be bear the stamp of a local official authority.

Use of language/Translation:

Please note that all documents must be in English (including the affidavit/letter of consent, court order, death certificate, …) if not, translated into English by a sworn translator – translation has to bear the stamp of the sworn translator. Your passport has to be valid at least 30 days AFTER departure from South Africa and needs to have at least 2 unused pages for entry/exit stamps or visa.

The Consulate of Belgium is providing this information as a service only and cannot guarantee that at the time of reading that it is still the most recent update. For the most up-to-date information, check with the Department of Home Affairs or the Embassy of South Africa in Brussels:


New South African Immigration Rules

South Africa introduced new immigration rules as from 26 May 2014: www.dha.gov.za or contact the South African Embassy in Brussels - publicdiplomacy@southafrica.be  or www.southafrica.be.

Your passport has to be valid at least 30 days after departure from South Africa and needs to have at least 2 unused pages for entry/exit stamps or visa.

Belgian citizens on holiday are still allowed to enter South Africa with only their Belgian passport, and can stay for a maximum of 90 days per calendar year in the Republic as a visitor. Should they wish to extend their stay, they have to apply at least 30 days in advance (this is 30 days before your stay has come to an end) through a VFS office (for addresses: see website Home Affairs - www.dha.gov.za).

Be informed that as from 26 May 2014, for all first time visa applications (not for holiday reasons), you have to contact the South African Embassy in Brussels. For all other extensions or change of status you are to contact the VFS office at least 30 days before expiry date. A change of the visitor’s status into another status is not possible anymore.

Non-South African Residents residing in South Africa:

If you live/reside in South Africa, you must be in possession of a valid residence permit at all times when entering or leaving South Africa. Be advised to have the A4-form (the document that states your resident status, a copy will do) with you at all times when crossing South Africa’s borders.

South African Home Affairs will not be putting the resident permit sticker in your passport anymore, nor will the current resident permit sticker be transferred into a new passport.

Permits Expired / Permit Renewal:

For those who have South African permits who are expired, please be aware that you may be blacklisted and prevented from applying for a visa to re-enter South Africa for a period from 12 months to 5 years. Should you have applied for a resident status/permit/visa before 26 May 2014, you did not get a reply from Home Affairs yet, you left South Africa already and got the “undesirable” status, please address an email to overstayappeals@dha.gov.za together with a copy of your Belgian passport, a copy of your current visa/permit and a copy of the application for the renewal of your visa/status. You will receive a reply from Home Affairs containing the document DHA-57 (“Waiving of undesirability”) and you are allowed to enter South Africa again.

If you have applied for a renewal before 26 May 2014, the old law (law in force before 26 May 2014) concerning your visa/permit renewal will still be applicable.

For all other applications submitted after 26 May 2014, the new law will be applicable (see www.dha.gov.za).