The South African government is introducing new requirements for travel with children in 2015. I went through a lot of trouble getting my children's unabridged birth certificates, and I would prefer not to travel with originals. Are certified copies acceptable, or will I have to take the originals with when leaving OR Tambo?

  • Related question: Are birth certificates needed if a child has his or her own passport? I looked through the SA documentation and couldn't find anything. – mkennedy Feb 19 '15 at 23:26
  • I'll be traveling with two kids (US passports) in April 2015. I'll try to remember to post whether the authorities want their birth certificates too. The new policy is supposed to take effect on 1 June 2015. – mkennedy Mar 25 '15 at 18:50
  • If the US passport has the details of both parents, a birth certificate is not necessary. Otherwise, it is. – NMrt Mar 26 '15 at 8:57
  • US passports do not list parent information, but the new policy isn't supposed to stay until June 2015. – mkennedy Mar 26 '15 at 13:28
  • Hopefully, the policy will be scrapped, but it would be best to be prepared. – NMrt Mar 27 '15 at 15:03

According to the FAQ on South African Airways website (see number 5 below),

A) What do the regulations say about parents travelling with children?

Regulation 6 (12)(a):

Where parents are travelling with a child, such parents must produce an unabridged birth certificate of the child reflecting the particulars of the parents of the child.

  1. What is an unabridged birth certificate?

It is a birth certificate reflecting the particulars of both parents.

  1. Is this applicable to all children?

Yes, the South African regulations regards a child as any person under the age of 18 years. It is applicable to all nationalities departing from and arriving in South Africa. It is not required for passengers remaining in transit, unless s/he requires a transit visa. The unabridged certificate should be submitted during the transit visa application process and both the certificate and visa should be carried on person whilst travelling.

  1. What about unabridged birth certificates or other documents that are not issued in English?

All documents issued in a language other than English should be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.

  1. What about countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates?

In the case of foreign countries that do not issue unabridged birth certificates, a letter to this effect issued by the competent authority of the foreign country should be produced.

  1. Must I travel with the original document?

A copy is sufficient as per the regulations. It must be certified as a true copy of the original by a Commissioner of Oaths (or the equivalent, should Commissioners of Oaths not be a practice in the country concerned).

When in doubt, it is suggested to contact the South African Department of Home Affairs.


I travelled with Qantas from and returning to South Africa using South African passports with my wife and children, and the unabridged birth certificates, as well as the marriage certificate reflecting my wife's change of name were required at various points, including check in at both ends, and immigration on return to South Africa.

To answer my own question, certified copies were accepted at all stages without any issues.

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