The South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) announced a new law pertaining to travelling with children, which will be implemented on 1st October. This law states that both local and foreign parents who travel internationally with their children will be required to provide unabridged birth certificates containing both the mother and father’s details.
The new law has created panic among local and foreign parents with travel plans, since unabridged birth certificates are not automatically issued to parents in South Africa.
Parents will need to apply for these necessary documents through the DHA and will most likely be facing long waits. Currently, the DHA takes an average of six to eight weeks to produce unabridged birth certificates, though incidents of parents waiting for over a year for the essential documentation have been reported time and again.
Nevertheless, not all parents share these concerns. Jeanie Fundora, a Safari Consultant for Travel Beyond, said: “Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is. I think most U.S. parents have original copies of the birth certificates of their kids, and as a parent I think the new regulations and requirements are good. I would think that most parents should feel confident that the South African government is looking out for the safety and well-being of children traveling into South Africa.”
The president of African Travel Inc., Jim Holden, similarly shares Mrs Fundora’ s positive perspective in adding that “the new regulations could even boost South Africa’s image in the international community by showing that South Africa cares about children and is joining with the rest of the world to stamp out child trafficking.”
The South African Minister of Tourism, Mr Derek Hanekom, states that “[while] the intentions behind the gazetted immigration regulations [do] reflect South Africa‘s commitment to contributing to global efforts to combat child trafficking, we [are faced with] a dual imperative. We have to combat child trafficking by aligning our approach to global efforts, while [simultaneously] limiting damage to our competitiveness as a tourism destination.”
This leaves us with some questions. Is the new immigration law the real issue or is it the lengthy and unpredictable process of obtaining unabridged birth certificates? Should we not focus on DHA and its processes in the same way we scrutinise the new laws? Is this lack of consistency not worse than stricter rules?
For assistance with your immigration to South Africa, feel free to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
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