Despite the fact that The Amendment to the Immigration Act was gazetted on November 30 and removed the requirement for children travelling with both parents on a foreign passport to carry a birth certificate when they travel, the Department of Home Affairs has now issued an advisory on its website that contradicts the relaxation of the regulations governing children travelling to SA.\n\n\n\nMeanwhile TourismUpdate reports airlines\u2019 check-in staff around the world have been advised to follow the original advisory by Home Affairs and not the redrafted regulations gazetted in November. Confusion now reigns and potential visitors to SA are being refused to board aircraft abroad by airlines worldwide if they have children under 18 with them and cannot show unabridged birth certificates for these children.\n\n\n\nA report by TourismUpdate says throughout this saga, Home Affairs has been sharply criticised for not engaging with the travel and tourism sector. The latest confusion represents a significant setback for SA\u2019s attempts to win back a reputation as a child-friendly destination.\n\n\n\nHome Affairs has justified the advisory on the basis that it gives effect to the Children\u2019s Act of 2005.\n\n\n\nIt is the airlines that have the unwelcome role of administering Home Affairs\u2019 regulations, as they face penalties if children arrive without a birth certificate.\n\n\n\nA spokesperson for Geneva-based Iata, which uses its Timatic system to advise check-in staff of its member airlines on what travel documentation travellers need before boarding a flight to SA, told Tourism Update that they had been advised by SA government sources to use the advisory of the DHA website which states:\n\n\n\n- \u201c3.1. Where both parents are travelling accompanied by one or more of their children, such children have to produce valid passports and a Birth Certificate (BC) for each child travelling.\u201d\n\n\n\nThis is in complete contradiction to the Immigration Act Amendment.\n\n\n\nAssociate Professor of Law at Wits, Prof. Victoria Bronstein commented to Tourism Update that, when viewed in context, this appears to be some rear-guard action against the regulations.\n\n\n\n\u201cAlthough the document claims that the requirements for children travelling to or from SA is aimed at giving effect to the Children\u2019s Act, 2005, the Children\u2019s Act has nothing specific to say about this issue. It appears that the procedures for enacting Regulations in the Immigration Act are being circumvented by this informal advisory. If the amended Regulations are in force, this advisory is illegitimate.\n\n\n\n\u201cThe current confusion about the requirements for children entering South Africa also suggests confusion and lack of transparency that cuts against rule of law requirements in the Constitution,\u201d said Bronstein.\n\n\n\nThere is more confusion over whether the new regulations gazetted are in force or not.\n\n\n\nSaid the Professor: \u201cThe regulations appear to have been amended with effect from December 2018 even though the heading in the Government Gazette says Draft Regulations.\u201d\n\n\n\nThe online legal service, Jutastat, in one version records the amendments as having taken effect on December 1, 2018. For two days Tourism Update has tried without success to get a spokesman from Home Affairs to clarify if the new Amendment is in force or not.\n\n\n\nHome Affairs is required to consult with an Immigration Advisory Board over regulations. There is nobody from the private tourism and travel sector on the board to Tourism Update\u2019s knowledge (and the spokespeople will not return our calls). The Department has also consistently slapped down attempts by the industry to engage with them on regulatory change.\n\n\n\nIn the meantime, airlines around the world are compelled to continue to deny boarding to children without birth certificates as hopes of positioning SA as a family-friendly destination evaporate.