The South African government has agreed to relax the strict visa rules that required all children entering and leaving the country to carry their original, unabridged birth certificates. The regulations, introduced in June this year, were widely seen as having a negative impact on tourism to the country.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom announced last week that the Cabinet had agreed to recommendations that:
- accredited travel agents be able to make visa applications on behalf of clients
- foreign minors no longer be required to carry an unabridged birth certificate with them when entering or leaving South Africa.
This means that tourists from abroad will no longer have to present themselves in-person to South African consulates or embassies in order to submit their visa applications. And it means that foreign minors (children below the age of 18) no longer need to travel with their original, unabridged birth certificates. Original birth certificates or certified copies will be required only during the application process, which is a common requirement in many countries.
It appears South African minors will still need to travel with an unabridged birth certificate if they leave the country, though the content requirements of the certificates have been relaxed.
Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy said in a statement that the tourism industry would benefit from the approved recommendations.
Details of the changes described above are still sketchy and the Bay Atlantic Guest House advises visitors to check with their travel agents for specific details as they become more clear.