Sawubona: Caution for parties travelling to South Africa with children

 (Sawubona is a Zulu greeting)

Our global village is becoming an increasingly smaller place where hemispheres, continents and timezones can all be transgressed with the click of a few buttons. The online capabilities of websites such as Skyscanner and make travel more affordable and easier to manage and so the increase in people travelling continues to grow.

Australia is a settlement country; it is not surprising to learn that over one third of its population are foreign born.[1] Other information suggests that nearly half of Australians today were either born overseas or have at least one parent who was.

With such a diverse population, international travel is commonplace amongst Australians. When travelling internationally people are often reminded to check visa requirements prior to travelling, however it is not uncommon for parties to fail to undertake the necessary checks only to be caught out at immigration and passport control at the country of their destination.

For South Africans who now call Australia home, and any other people travelling to South Africa with their children, should take heed of the recent travel documentation requirements effective from 1 June 2015.

The requirements are essentially in place to ensure that all minors (irrespective of whether they hold a South African passport or not) are travelling with the consent of their parents when travelling into or out of the Republic of South Africa.

Some of the requirements include:

  • Where parents are travelling accompanied with their child/children, the children must produce both the valid passport and unabridged birth certificate (UBC)
  • Where only one parent is travelling with their child/children, each child must produce a valid passport, UBC and a parental consent affidavit signed by the non-travelling parent whose details are recorded in the UBC. A copy of the suggested format of a parental consent affidavit can be found here:

It is important to note that the parental consent affidavit must not be older than 6 months when presented and the affidavit must be signed by a notary public or at the South African embassy in the parent’s country of residence alternatively, a Commissioner of Oaths in South Africa.

The consent of parents recorded in the UBC shall be required regardless of the marital status of the parents of the child.

Full details relating to these requirements can be found on the South African High Commission website here:

To avoid complications, delays and stress for all involved, parents travelling to South Africa with children should carefully review the requirements prior to their departure to South Africa.

At McLaughlins Lawyers, we have an experienced team of family lawyers who can advise you on an extensive range of family law matters. McLaughlins is the Gold Coast’s oldest law firm with professional and approachable lawyers providing the highest standard of innovative legal services. Our promise to you is to be honest and trustworthy, reliable, professional, approachable, and supportive and to provide value for money.

If you seek advice regarding your family law matters, we invite you to contact McLaughlins Lawyers today on (07) 5591 5099.

Author: Joelene Nel

Partner: Sophie Pearson

Date: 17/06/2016

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