What You NEED To Know Before Traveling to South Africa With Kids

In late September, the three of us jetted off on our first family holiday as a trio. As it was Eliott’s first time on a plane, we decided to not go too mad – or rather, we decided to throw caution (and everything else) to the wind, and opt for an 18 hour flight each way and headed to sunny South Africa. It was a wonderful trip, one which I will definitely be writing more on, but it was definitely an educational trip in more ways than one. I feel incredibly lucky to not only be able to go on this kind of trip myself, but also to expose my child at the age of three to a whole different world of things – different weather, different cultures, foods, experiences. We stayed in Durban while we were there and found it to be overwhelmingly child friendly. I would thoroughly recommend it for people with kids, as it’s got so much for them to do, and playgrounds at every corner. However, if you’re thinking about traveling to South Africa with kids, there are a few things you need to have with you.

The 1 Thing You NEEDTo Know Before Traveling To South Africa With Kids

In 2015, South Africa introduced new regulations with regard to travel in and out of South Africa with children, as a method of combatting the issue of Child Trafficking. Much as it’s much nicer to never have to think of such things, unfortunately it is a huge problem which they have needed to act against. This has made it slightly more difficult to travel in or out of the country with a child in tow. If you’re planning on traveling to South Africa with kids, you’ll need to make yourself familiar with these new regulations.

The new regulations are as follows:

If both parents are traveling with the child, under the age of 18 years, as well as their passport and any visa requirements, you are also required to carry the child’s long form birth certificate with you. It must have both parent’s names on it, unless there are extraordinary circumstances which are taken care of in other methods I’ll talk about in a minute. This is ESSENTIAL. If you rock up to the airport you’re departing from and do not have the birth certificate in your possession, they will not allow you to fly, it’s that simple. Ensure that it is definitely the long form birth certificate to avoid any tears at the check in desk. If you’ve not got a copy of it handy at home, you can request a copy from the HSE website here (if it’s an Irish birth certificate) or through your local office/embassy if it isn’t.

If the child is an adopted child, they also request that you carry with you the Court order confirming the adoption of the minor by the adoptive parents or the Adoption Certificate.

In the case of just one parent of the child traveling, it gets a little bit more tricky. Now it depends on the circumstances as to which you’re traveling alone.

If both parents are married and share custody of their child, you require in addition to the above requirements, a notarized letter from the other parent stating explicit permission to travel with the child outside of the country. You can have this witnessed by a Commissioner of Oaths or a solicitor.

In a case where parents are legally separated or divorced but share legal custody and responsibility over the child, as well as visa and passports and birth certificates as required above, you also are required to carry one of these:

  • Parental Consent Affidavit (PCA) not older than 6 months
  • Court order granting FULL parental responsibilities and rights to the travelling parent
  • Court order granted in terms of section 18(5) of the Children’s Act, 2005

If the child has legal guardians, who share equal responsibility, they must travel with:

  • Valid passport of travelling guardian and child
  • Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC)
  • Guardianship Order
  • Plus one of the following
    • Parental Consent Affidavit (PCA) not older than 6 months
    • Letter of Special Circumstances issued by Director-General of Home Affairs in the event that a parent or parents are incapacitated or deceased and no legal guardian has been appointed as yet.

If the parent traveling with the child is widowed, the requirements are all of the below:

  • Valid passport of travelling parent and child
  • Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC)
  • Death certificate of the deceased parent

If the child is not traveling with their parents, there are a number of other stipulations along the same lines. These generally are covered by Parental Consent Affidavits. For all of this information and lots more details, you can check out the Department of Home Affairs website here, or contact your local South African embassy. There’s a lot in there but it’s better safe than sorry.

Believe me, it’s best to do your research beforehand instead of dealing with the bureaucratic nonsense afterwards. Or, worse still,  losing out on your dream holiday. I would thoroughly recommend traveling to South Africa with Kids, but it’s best to make sure that the long-haul flight isn’t made any more stressful by not having all the paperwork together. You are going to be asked for the paperwork at every step of the way (if you’ve got connecting flights, in each airport you enter) so having it in a safe but easy-to-reach part of your bag is best.

After all that is done – enjoy your trip! It’s an incredible country which I am already planning my return to. I hope you enjoy it just as much.


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  1. It’s so good that they have all these measures in place to prevent child trafficking. They do this in Europe too, we’ve learned the hard way! We nearly weren’t allowed out of the country when we took my teenage son from a previous marriage with us – fortunately, at 16, he was allowed to speak for himself.

  2. I had no idea that these measures were in place. I think its a good though as its so important to protect them as much as possible. I am sure people travelling to South Africa will find this very informative its on our bucket list so maybe will make it too one day x

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