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Controversial New South African Travel Laws To Be Amended

By Bidvest Bank
In 2015, the Department of Home Affairs introduced controversial new South African travel laws, one of which required all minors entering and exiting South Africa to have an unabridged birth certificate with them. 

While these laws had a noble intention of curbing child trafficking, they had several very negative consequences. Most notably, many families who couldn’t get unabridged birth certificates in time were refused entry into or leave from South Africa. In addition, many foreign families were put off by the administration involved to obtain these birth certificates, and so booked their holiday elsewhere instead of to South Africa – which an impact on tourism revenue.

Luckily, after much pressure from various governing bodies and the tourism sector, South Africa’s visa laws are now being amended. 

What are the forthcoming amendments?

New passports for South African minors will now include both names of their parents, as well as their particulars, and this will soon be acceptable documentation if you want to leave the country – instead of carrying an unabridged birth certificate with you. Note that this only applies to those who apply for new South African children’s passports going forward, so if you have your child’s original passport (without their parents’ particulars), you will still need to travel with an unabridged birth certificate.

Foreigners coming into South Africa with minors who already have a visa, will not be required to bring a birth certificate with them, as long as both parents are travelling with the child. Those from visa exempt countries are still strongly advised to bring unabridged birth certificates with them however, as immigration officials may still ask for them.

The DHA is also looking into issuing visas on arrival for travellers with UK, USA or Canadian passports, and other countries that have stringent visa controls. The process will hopefully be rolled out over the next 12 months. This will make it much easier for tourists to visit South Africa, as they won’t need to apply for a visa well in advance and can simply get one when they arrive.

New biometric capturing will benefit travellers coming into South Africa as they won’t need to apply in person for a visa before they arrive, saving them time and hassle. This system will also help travellers who are in transit: eventually transit visas will be completely phased out as the individual’s data will be captured biometrically on arrival. This visa travel law will also limit fraud and identity theft and prohibit criminals from entering our country.

Other amendments to the current South African visa laws include issuing long-term multiple entry visas to frequent travellers from the African continent and looking into an Accredited Tourism Company Programme for visitors from BRICS countries.

It’s important to note that amendments to South Africa’s travel laws will only be rolled out over the next 3-12 months. So if you’re travelling in and out of our country very soon, it’s best to check with your travel agency or airline on the current situation regarding the required travel documents.

Are you a South African travelling internationally or a foreigner considering a trip to our shores? Bidvest Bank offers a wealth of forex options, backed up by over 150 years of experience, to offer you the safest, most convenient options for spending while you’re abroad.