Rule changes for travelling minors to SA planned ahead of busy December holiday season  – Gabi Zietsman

Visa reforms and waivers will soon be announced – including changes to requirements for travelling minors in SA – to be officially gazetted in October.

Cabinet received a joint report from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism – Malusi Gigaba and Derek Hanekom – which laid out many visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to visit South Africa.

SEE: Hanekom: BRICS Tourism Track sees eased visa regulations and better air connectivity

The biggest issue is the hoops foreign tourists have to jump through when travelling with minors and obtaining unabridged birth certificates, and changes to this regulation will also be included in the reforms, the state has confirmed.

There are also negotiations on visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements from certain countries which are being finalised, and further details will be announced later this week.

ALSO SEE: Upgraded SA children’s passport spells relief for travelling parents

This is expected to include China and India, as part of high-level agreements between the countries and South Africa that was announced in July during the BRICS summit. 

According to the latest StatsSA figures for May 2018, compared to May 2017, Indian tourist arrivals to South Africa was down 12%, while China was up by 5%.

While the details of the Chinese visa agreement is not confirmed, Hanekom did mention that one of the options being considered was a “multiple entry Visa” that would be valid for five years and offer tourists up to 90 days in the country.

ALSO SEE: SA e-visas prioritised as sticky ease of access continues to hamper tourism growth

South Africa is also rolling out e-visas soon, set to be a gradual roll-out starting with “Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission.”

The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31 March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA

This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.