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Amendments to visa and child travel laws

Fall in South Africa's tourist numbers leads to Government action

South Africa child travel

November 2015 - At the end of October, the South African Government announced that it will be introducing minor amendments to its controversial visitor visa and child travel requirements that were implemented in June this year.

The revision comes after criticism from the public, tourism associations and the travel industry, as well as a significant fall in visitor numbers to South Africa.

It remains to be seen whether the amendments will be enough to boost tourism to the country.

Here's what you need to know about the latest revisions:

1. Child travel requirements

All of the current child travel requirements relating to birth certificates and parental affidavits, as outlined in this article, remain the same.

However, the validity of parental affidavits will be extended to 6 months (previously 3 months).

For South African citizens, Home Affairs will begin printing parents' details in their children's passports. This will be phased in over the next year, eventually eliminating the requirement for a child's original birth certificate to be presented to officials when entering or exiting the country.

2. Applying in person for a visa to South Africa

Home Affairs will be introducing some flexibility to the current requirement for visitors applying for visas in person at the South African embassy in their home country, in order to record their biometric information.

Changes:

• In countries where there is no South African embassy or mission, Home Affairs will accept visa applications by post, but this will only apply to tourist and medical visitor visas. In these instances, biometric details (finger prints and photos) will be captured at the applicable South African port of entry.

• To address concerns around the geographical spread of countries like China, India and Russia, certain measures will be put in place to ease the process of application, in particular for tourists. However, Home Affairs is not clear on what these measures are but says it will look at possible visa-waivers.

• Home Affairs has also announced that it is looking at issuing visas on arrival to persons travelling to SA who have valid visas for the UK, USA and Canada, or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, in order to ease travel for these tourists.

3. Multiple-entry visas

• Over the next three months, Home Affairs will decide on whether to launch long-term Multiple Entry Visas for frequent travellers to South Africa (particularly business travellers and academics).

• In addition to the Business Visa Facilitation Centre recently opened in Sandton, within the next 12 months, Home Affairs will also open two new Business Visa Facilitation Centres in Durban and Port Elizabeth.

To view the full Government statement regarding the amendments, click here. To read First Car Rental's comprehensive guide to South Africa's child travel requirements, click here.

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