At the start of this year, some friends of ours travelled to South Africa with their 6 year old son.
Their flight was from Spain to Geneva where they made a stop to visit some friends and should have carried on 2 days later to South Africa.
Exactly, should have.
As normal when you travel as a whole family to a foreign country, you would check if a visa is needed and maybe if some vaccinations are required or suggested.
I guess this is pretty much a standard matter.
Well let me tell you, it is not if you want to travel to South Africa with your children.
Our friends got to the airport and wanted to check in.
“Passport, tickets and the original birth-certificate of your child please.”
The couple thought it was a joke, only to find out it is not.
Absolutely no chance to get on this plane without the original birth certificate.
They managed to reschedule their flight 2 days later. This was the time it took for the father to buy a return flight to Spain and from Geneva, and to collect their son’s original birth certificate from home.
Extra costs the family had certainly not budgeted for on their amazing trip to South Africa.
I heard another story from a woman who travelled alone with her son from the UK. She checked the website from the South African authorities for the information of documents needed and therefore brought the original birth-certificate with her. As she was travelling as a lone parent she also had a letter from her husband giving the permission to take their son to South Africa and a copy of his passport.
Guess what? Her husband’s letter of permission needed to be signed by a solicitor to be accepted by the airline. Her flight was a Sunday, so needless to say that the several phone calls she made to a local solicitor went unanswered.
The airline refused or couldn’t, re-schedule her flight, and also the travel agent she used was unable to help her further. The answer she received from the airline was that she must buy 2 new return tickets.
My advice to anyone travelling with children to South Africa
Contact your airline to be 100% sure you have all the necessary documents needed to ensure your well-deserved trip to South Africa will not end prematurely at the departure airport.
A list from the official Home Affaires Republic of South Arica website.
What to bring when Travelling with Children to South Africa
Children travelling into the country with both biological parents must travel with:
- Valid passport of travelling parent and child
- Visa, if required
- Birth certificate listing both parents (note: these must be the original documents, or certified copies of the originals) A child travelling with just one of the parents listed on his or her birth certificate must ALSO present:
- Parental consent affidavit not older then 4 months or
- A Letter of special circumstances issued by director-general of home affairs in the event that a parent or parents are incapacitated or deceased and no longer guardian has been appointed as yet.
For full details of requirements for travel to South Africa, please see dha.gov.za
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