|Photo by Diriye Amey via flickr|
The Daily Telegraph, Jun 09, 2015
Controversial new rules on flying with children into South Africa could be relaxed only days after they were introduced.
The regulations designed to protect under-18s from traffickers appear to be too onerous and are in danger of putting off families from travelling to the country.
The rules, introduced on June 1, meant anyone arriving in South Africa in the company of a child had to prove parenthood or guardianship – by way of birth certificate – while lone adults flying in with their offspring had to show that they had the consent of their non-travelling partner.
"Negative effects are being reported by tour operators and airlines which have taken the form of cancellations," Derek Hanekom, South Africa’s tourism minister, told Reuters while at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town last week.
"Air China is reconsidering flights to South Africa (and) one of their reasons was the visa requirements," he added.
The travel industry reacted with dismay to the introduction of the new rules.
Airlines were expecting to have to turn away passengers who turn up at the airport without the required documents. But they were also hoping to prevent such a thing happening.
"We are doing everything possible to advise customers that they will require additional documentation if travelling with children under 18," said a British Airways (BA) spokeswoman.
Should an adult expecting to take children on a BA flight find that they cannot gather the correct documents in time, they might be able to rebook, the spokewoman added.
She said: "We will allow customers to change their flights if they are booked between May 31 to June 30 and do not have the required documentation. They will be able to rebook for between May 31 and July 31."
A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said: “While we understand and are supportive of the reasons behind these [the new rules], we have significant concerns about the practicalities involved. We are working closely with the South African authorities to ensure these changes are managed as effectively as possible and that disruption for travelling families is kept to an absolute minimum.
“Meanwhile, we strongly recommend that any customers travelling to and from South Africa bring the necessary paperwork when flying.”
A poll of more than 500 Telegraph Travel readers revealed that 62 per cent would be put off visiting South Africa with children due to the rule change.
The Foreign Office provides information on the new rules on its website. "If you’re travelling to South Africa or transiting through a South African airport with a child you must be able to produce the child’s full unabridged birth certificate," it states.
"Check with your airline to see whether you need to go through immigration on arrival in South Africa, collect luggage and check in again. If you do go through immigration you’ll need to provide the correct documentation."
It suggests travellers consult this statement by the South African Department of Home Affairs and this leaflet produced by the South African Department of Home Affairs, for more information.
Supporting documents are not required for children passing through transit, only passports.
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