Paul Nyathi|The South African Department of Home Affairs will scrap its controversial birth certificate rules for travellers.
The regulation requires all people travelling with minors (under the age of 18) to produce an unabridged birth certificate, and a letter of parental consent if the child is not travelling with both parents, when departing from and arriving in South Africa.
Speaking in a radio interview with Moneyweb, Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said that unabridged birth certificates will no longer be required for overseas tourists to South Africa travelling with children.
“We have given the instruction that, look, it’s no longer wanted. You don’t have to carry it, you don’t have to produce it,” he said.
In a separate Fin24 report, both the Airline Association of Southern Africa and the Tourism Business Council of SA confirmed that they had been briefed about the changes.
Chair of Tourism Business Council of SA, Blacky Komani, said that the change should be announced officially on 16 October, including timelines for implementation.
The revision to the travel regulations comes as president Cyril Ramaphosa moves to find ways to boost the local tourism industry, as part of his bid to reinvigorate South Africa’s stagnating economy.
Other changes in the sector include granting visa-free entry to several new countries – including New Zealand, the UAE and Saudi Arabia – as well as the introduction of a new e-visa system.
The birth certificate rules were introduced by home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba in 2015 under the banner of preventing instances of child trafficking.
However, by 2016, after many complaints and a huge knock to South Africa’s tourism numbers, the department said it would rework the laws.
According to data compiled by the DA, the rules cost South Africa as much as R7.5 billion, due to lost business from blocked tourists.
In a 2018 survey, travel company Travelstart found that 30% of respondents had been denied boarding because of the birth certificate regulation, while 67% of respondents said they needed to apply for an unabridged birth certificate to travel.
Furthermore, 41% of those respondents who applied for an unabridged birth certificate said that their application took more than 6 weeks to process, adding hassle, stress and cost implications to travel outside South Africa.