South African citizens, however, will still be required to do so when travelling across borders. Picture: Wikimedia

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) is outraged following the announcement that the requirement to present an Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) when travelling with minors will not be extended to South African citizens. 

The Department of Home Affairs announced in October that foreign minors visiting South Africa will no longer be required to present the UBC when travelling to the destination unless these are unaccompanied. 

South African citizens, however, will still be required to do so when travelling across borders. ASATA CEO Otto de Vries describes the move as “blatant discrimination.” 

“By limiting the change to foreign minors only, are we suggesting that South African children are more likely to be victims of child trafficking than their overseas counterparts?  

“The requirement to produce an Unabridged Birth Certificate, unless the child’s passport includes the details of both parents of the child and both parents are travelling with the child, is discriminatory not only against South African families but also against those that do not meet the form of a traditional two-parent household,” says de Vries.

“Furthermore, to say that South Africa should not ‘trouble’ international tourists with the requirement to produce UBCs to combat child trafficking when we do not extend the same courtesy to our own citizens, is ridiculous,” he said. 

He said modern South African society had different types of families with single-parent families no longer a rare exception.  

“As it stands, both parents will be required to be present when applying for a child’s passport and when the child travels. This is not realistic,” he added. 

Vries claims ASATA has called for a thorough consultation process with industry to develop requirements that balance the need for security with economic growth delivered through travel and tourism. 

According to de Vries, the controversial requirement for travelling families has stifled outbound tourism as it is making it difficult for local families to travel internationally. 

He believes there needs to be a supportive, enabling environment for South African companies to grow and that there should not be any red-tape that “stifles an industry.” 

Meanwhile, South African Tourism acting CEO Sthembiso Dlamini welcomed the news that international minors travelling to South Africa no longer require unabridged birth certificates or consent letters when travelling with their parents.

“The news will certainly be welcomed by all in the tourism industry, both in South Africa and around the world,” commented Dlamini.