Travel Info

Unabridged Birth Certificate For Minors – All You Need To Know

From 1 June 2015, the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa will require all passengers under 18 to travel with an Unabridged Birth Certificate.

Have you travelled to/from South Africa with children since 1 June 2015?

What is it? A new immigration law is now in effect (since 1 June 2015).

Under the new law, all minors under the age of 18 years are required to produce, in addition to their passport, an Unabridged Birth Certificate (showing the particulars of both parents) when exiting and entering South African ports of entry.

Latest update: As of the 4 December 2016 the Department of Home Affairs has put plans in place to assist travellers travelling with minors during the festive season.
It will be in effect from December 10 to January 14.

Outbound travellers

Outbound travellers with children are still required to produce:

  • the Unabridged Birth certificate in addition to the passport of the travelling minor
  • affidavits confirming parental consent to such travel in the event that one parent is not travelling.

The Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs, Mkuseli Apleni, has said there is a team in place to rapidly respond to issues regarding the unabridged birth certificate and to ensure that the certificate is issued within the specific period.
“It takes eight weeks to apply for and be issued with the UBC – which is required for each traveling child,” Mkuseli said “Those whose applications have exceeded eight weeks and have not received the certificates are advised to visit their Home Affairs office where they will be given a letter to use in the place of the UBC. This is only in the event that they need to travel.
Children under the age of 18 who already have passports:

The Department has done a pre-modification so that Home Affairs offices are able to issue them with the UBC on the spot.
“Where there are problems with the application, sms messages will be sent to the applicants concerned, encouraging them immediately to go to the office where they had applied, to receive assistance so that officials may issue the certificates timeously,” eTWN reported Mkuseli said.
Going forward:

Details of parents will be printed in children’s passports meaning that parents whose particulars were printed would not be required to carry birth certificates when travelling with their children.

Extended office hours at selected ports of entry during the busy festive season. Find out more here.

Dedicated phone numbers for travellers requiring assistance with the unabridged birth certificates:


072 634 0614 / 072 634 0589 / 073 567 6208 / 073 567 5968.
Good to know:

From April 2016:

The term Unabridged Birth Certificate will be changed to Birth Certificate.

Travelstart recommends adhering to the previously stated requirements until further notice. Read the official statement here.


Why was it put in place? It was inacted to curb human trafficking. According to the Department of Home Affairs, 30 000 minors are trafficked through South African borders every year. 50% of these minors are under the age of 14.

It is the responsibility of passengers to ensure their children have the correct documentation or risk being denied boarding. The new law is being enforced by airlines and immigration officials across the board (land, sea and air). Although airlines and travel agents are doing everything to keep passengers informed, ultimately it is passengers’ responsibility to know what is required of them. In all cases an Unabridged Birth Certificate is required for minors departing and arriving in South Africa … they are not allowed to travel without it.

In cases where the Unabridged Birth Certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned.

Children travelling with only one parent

When a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit {download below this article} in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent. The affidavit should be no more than 3 months old from date of travel.

Children travelling without either parent

In the case of a child travelling with a person other than a parent, the Unabridged Birth Certificate must be supplemented by affidavits from the parents or legal guardians confirming that the child may travel with that person, copies of the ID documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian.

Similarly, a child travelling as an unaccompanied minor would have to produce not only the Unabridged Birth Certificate, but also proof of consent from both parents or legal guardians and contact details, plus documentation relating to the person receiving the child in South Africa. The latter documentation should include a letter stating the person’s contact details and residential address, contact details where the child will be residing, plus a copy of his or her ID document, passport or residence permit.

In the meantime non-South African Citizens travelling to SA:

  • Will still be required to submit an original birth certificates and, as necessary, parental consent or certified copies during the visa application process.
  • For visa-exempt countries a strong advisory has been issued, with travellers advised to have proof of relationship and consent from the absent parent/s or guardian/s, in case they are asked to provide such on arrival. It has been recommended by the US Embassy that US citizens (and other visa-free travellers) should carry an authorisation letter that is notarised. You may not be asked for this but in the meantime it seems like the best possible insurance against complications at the border.
  • When a child is travelling alone to South Africa the child must carry a letter from the person that will be receiving them in South Africa, containing the person’s address and contact details, as well as a copy of the host’s identity document or passport (in this case it is probable that no birth certificate will be required).

Application process for Unabridged Birth Certificates

  • Apply at your nearest Home Affairs office where your Biometric information will be verified.
  • Take your ID book along, as well as your child’s ID number.
  • All documents submitted must be originals or certified copies.
  • The Unabridged Birth Certificate costs R75.
  • It can take up to 8 weeks to acquire an Unabridged Birth Certificate from the date of application.

Since last year, Unabridged Birth Certificates have been issued automatically for newborns. If your infant was born after 14 March 2013, you should be in possession of a UBC.

Certified copies of documents are usually valid for 6 months only.

Don’t delay applying for Unabridged Birth Certificates as the time frame for obtaining the documentation varies greatly, from a few weeks to several months.

Minors travelling in school groups or with their grandparents are not exempt from the requirement.

Who is exempt?

  • The new law does not apply to children travelling domestically (E.g. Between Johannesburg and Cape Town).
  • Minor passengers on a ‘Cruise to Nowhere’. For example a cruise that departs Durban Harbour and returns to Durban Harbour, or a cruise that goes from Durban Harbour to Cape Town Harbour.

Important contacts:

Department of Home Affairs website

Department of Home Affairs toll free hotline: 0800 60 11 90

Home Affairs resources: and

We urge you to take steps to obtain Unabridged Birth Certificates, and any other documentation required as soon as possible to avoid delays at the airport.

Please contact us should you have any questions or concerns.

The information on this page is a guide to assist people with new South African immigration laws. The information was correct at the time of publishing; Crest Travel takes no responsibility for any of the information being out of date or incorrectly noted.

Click below to download an affidavit should your child be travelling with only one or neither of its parents.