Confusion reigns around Unabridged Birth Certs

Controversial unabridged birth certificate regulation scrapped – This was the headline of the Northern KwaZulu Natal Courier last week.

While, we’re all hopeful that the Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) rule will be scrapped ASAP, headlines such as these are leading to major confusion among the travelling public.

Has the UBC been scrapped?

In theory: yes. In reality however, underage travellers still need to present their UBC when travelling internationally. The rule will only be scrapped once the Department of Home Affairs rolls out passports for minors that includes both parents’ details. Which leads us to the next question…

When will the new passports be rolled out?

Home Affairs Director General Mkuseli Apleni announced on February 5 that the new passports, which will include the parents’ details, will be issued within 3 to 12 months. So, is this timeline stands, passports could become a reality anywhere between May 5 and February 5 next year.

Incidentally, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said recently that changing the requirement for the UBC is causing “untold difficulties”.

Do travellers still need to carry other documentation?

Yes, all the other requirements will remain in place. The only change that was made is that the Parental Consent Affidavit is now valid for six months instead of four months.

So this is what you have to take into account:


Both parents are travelling: valid passport and UBC

One parent is travelling with child: valid passport, UBC, Parental Consent Affidavit of the non-travelling parent

An unaccompanied minor: valid passport; an UBC (or equivalent); Parental Consent Affidavit; letter from the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic, a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic.

A person who is travelling with a child who is not his or her biological child: Valid passport, an UBC (or equivalent) and Parental Consent Affidavit.

A child in alternative care: Valid passport and a letter from the Provincial Head of the Department of Social Development where the child resides authorising his or her departure from the Republic as contemplated in section 169 of the Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).

In the absence of parental consent affidavit: A court order granting full parental responsibilities and rights or full legal guardianship of the child exclusively to the travelling parent;

A court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2015, (Act No. 38 of 2005) which is a court order granting permission for the child to travel in the event that there is a dispute or no consent forthcoming from the parent/s of a child; or

A death certificate of the deceased parent.

What has been the impact of the new regulations on SA travellers?

Travel agents report that although most clients have accepted the new regulations, there still remains a lot of confusion.

The main issue for travel agents is the ad hoc implementation of the regulations at the airport, with airport officials sometimes checking the documentation and sometimes ignoring it.

Chantelle Browne, Senior Product Manager kulula holidays, explains she had a case where the traveler was allowed on to the flight without certificates and only when he returned to South Africa did the international check-in clerks insist to see the UBC.  Says Browne: “We have even had one client who arrived in Mauritius without their UBCs and upon departure made a joke to the check-in clerk that they should just deport them back to SA.”

Airlines are also still quite confused as to which documentation is needed, according to Rachael Penaluna, Business Manager of Sure Corporate Maritime Travel. She explains she had a family of four stranded in France because the airline didn’t know what they needed. Penaluna adds that there have also been incidents of fraud at OR Tambo in connection with the UBC.

According to Monica Horn, Harvey World Travel Product Manager, the delays experienced with obtaining the UBC also have had a negative effect on international travel demand. She says: “We do have many delayed clients where the UBCs are still in the process. This has definitely had an impact on international leisure travel.”