Cape Town - The Department of Home Affairs has scrapped having two versions of the birth certificate, an abridged (issued for new-borns up until 2013) and an unabridged birth certificate detailing both parents details (issued to all new-borns since 2014).
From Tuesday, 1 November, newborns in South Africa will be issued only a single document stating both their maternal and paternal birth details.
The document will be known as only a 'birth certificate', as opposed the the previous 'unabridged' or 'abridged birth certificate' options.
In essence, however, it remains an unabridged birth certificate, the term as well as the abridged version (with only the maternal details) is now being done away with.
The way forward
For South Africans travelling with minor children, the complete birth certificate detailing both paternal and maternal information will still be the document needed at customs to ensure smooth transit operations.
Children born after 14 March 2013 were issued with a valid unabridged birth certificate automatically. This means their birth certificates will be valid as is.
Everyone born before that, and that are still under 18 (from 1998 to 14 March 2013), and those from countries who do not automatically issue unabridged certificates, must apply for the document well before their travel date.
The announcement of the term change in birth certificates for all South Africans is the first steps taken by the Department of Home Affairs after they announced in February this year that they will review the stringent visa travel rules for minor travellers.
Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni said in a public announcement on Friday, 28 October, that the replacement of the name “Unabridged Birth Certificate” with “Birth Certificate” will be effective 1 November 2016.
Apleni also reminded travellers of the extension of the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six months. Previously, the consent affidavit was only valid for three months.
SEE: DHA: Biometrics to stay despite festive season spike looming
According to the Democratic Alliance MP James Vos, however, the move is too little too late.
Vos released a statement on Friday saying, "As a result of the contentious unabridged birth certificate regulations, 13 246 people were denied boarding to South Africa for the period June 2015 to July 2016, according to statistics provided by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA).
"Taking into account that a tourist to South Africa spends on average R13 000 per day, our country has lost potential revenue of R7.51 billion because of this regulation," Vos' statement reads.
In February, the DHA also mentioned prospects of new South African passports for minors which would detail both parents particulars, and that this would be the accepted document instead of the unabridged birth certificate when travelling.
The process, however, still needs to be rolled out.
Apart from the frustration with the birth certificates and minor travel, the DHA is also dealing with various complaints regarding new biometric data capturing systems at four major airports in SA.
READ: Biomentric Data Capturing: 'This system is an embarrassment to our country'
Regardless of the backlash, Apleni says biometrics are here to stay, and will continue to expand. On Friday, he announced the future roll-out of even more biometric data capturing stations - at six land-based ports of entry on SA's borders.
READ MORE HERE: Biometrics on a budget: DHA plans roll-out of data capturing for land-based ports
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