Despite assurances from the Tourism Ministry that the ridiculous rules for travelling with minors have been relaxed, the Home Affairs Minstry has now allegedly again stopped the relaxation of the rules. Family travel to South Africa is – again – being shot in both feet.
TourismUpdate reports that after heading a joint effort with the private sector to reframe its travel advisory so that it was in line with its own regulations gazetted last November, the Home Affairs department has once again contradicted itself and re-introduced the need for minors to carry at least a copy of a birth certificate.
The background to the problem is that airlines are fined as much as $6,500 each time an inadequately documented traveller arrives in a country on their aircraft. Most rely on their airline association IATA to electronically make available documentary requirements they need to check before allowing a passenger to board. The system used by airlines and many travel agents is maintained by IATA and is called Timatic.
On March 24, Tourism Update reported that an updated advisory by the Department of Hone Affairs, which referenced the new regulations and which says that in the case of foreign children travelling with parents with the same name, they only need a passport and a visa, if applicable. The mention of birth certificates was dropped in line with the new regulations.
But IATA, which informs the airline industry and is responsible for the directive to update Timatic, had received communication from the South African government instructing them to insist on travelling with a birth certificate.
On April 1 (and no, this is not an April Fool’s joke – Ed.), an IATA spokesperson told TourismUpdate.co,za: “We were in contact with the Ministry of Home Affairs last week, and they have confirmed that the birth certificate is still a must to travel to South Africa (the only difference is that a copy of it is sufficient) – this information is published as such in Timatic.”
The actual wording on Timatic is as follows:
- MINORS YOUNGER THAN 18 YEARS, TRAVELLING TO/FROM SOUTH AFRICA:
A. WITH BOTH PARENTS, MUST HOLD AN ORIGINAL OR A COPY OF A BIRTH CERTIFICATE OR A PASSPORT CONTAINING THE DETAILS OF THE PARENTS
Differing directives, leaving airline check-in staff around the world with no other choice than to request birth certificates for all travellers under 18 wishing to visit SA.