Since implementing new travel regulations for visitors to the country, tourist travel to South Africa has dropped significantly. According to data collected by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, the country’s tourism business index is at its lowest point since 2011. Officials believe that the decline is largely due to new South Africa visa regulations which make it harder to enter the country with a minor.
As we reported last month, South Africa now requires that anyone entering the country with a minor under the age of 18 must present an unabridged birth certificate for the minor upon entering South Africa. The minor must also have a valid passport and a South Africa visa.
The measure is intended to help reduce child trafficking in and out of South Africa and to improve border security and control. However, when the new measures were implemented, people worried that it would affect tourism in the country, and it seems that their fears are being realized. As a result, South African tourism minister Derek Hanekom is reviewing the new visa regulations and considering making them less stringent, particularly for international travelers from BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.
The new regulations also require that people applying for South Africa tourist visas must do so in person so that biometric information, including fingerprints, can be collected reliably. Collecting biometric information is not out of the norm, but South Africa does not have very many foreign consulates, so many people who want to obtain South Africa visas must now travel quite far in order to complete their application. In the United States, there are active South Africa consulates in Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
For the time being, if you are planning to visit South Africa with a child, remember to bring their long-form birth certificate with you. If both parents are not traveling with the child, you must also bring a letter giving permission to the traveling parent or guardian to travel alone with the child.
If you have questions or concerns about the current South Africa visa requirements, contact Swift to get answers. We will be able to provide you with the latest information on visa regulations and help you obtain your visa as quickly as possible.
Rob Lee is co-founder of Swift Passport and Visa Services. Originally from Michigan, Rob is an avid fisherman and SCUBA diver who enjoys adventure travel.