In June 2015, the South African Department of Home Affairs brought in new rules intended to combat child abduction and trafficking of young people.
Every under-18 arriving in South Africa was required to present an unabridged birth certificate, which includes the parents’ details. Many British families have only a “short” certificate, with details only of the child, because this is the one provided for free when a birth is registered.
Within six months, an average of 10 families a day were being turned away at Heathrow for failing to comply fully with the birth certificate requirement.
Airlines faced fines from the South African authorities for bringing in passengers under 18 who did not have the correct birth certificate.
Over the past three years, many families have contacted The Independent to say they had not been informed of the rules
In 2017, Elizabeth Jardine and her family were denied boarding at Manchester airport and forced to spend an additional £4,000, because they had the wrong type of birth certificate for their eight-year-old daughter.
The Independent estimates that at least 3,000 travellers from Britain alone have been denied boarding because they did not know about the requirement.
The rules no longer apply to children from nations where no visa is required, including the UK and many other countries.
The amendment follows the resignation of the Home Affairs minister, Malusi Gigaba, who introduced the rules.
South Africa’s tourism industry has welcomed the news. It blames the birth certificate requirement, and the adverse publicity it generated, for stagnating visitor numbers.
The change has not yet been reflected in the Foreign Office guidance on entry regulations for South Africa.
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