SATSA – Coronavirus and immigration updates for children



Dear Members,

Several airlines have told SATSA they will not ask parents of foreign minors travelling to the Republic of South Africa to produce the Unabridged Birth Certificates (UBCs).

This follows concerns raised by tour operators that airlines would continue to require children under the 18 years with foreign passports to present a UBC when checking in, despite IATA confirming it has updated its Travel Information Manual Automatic system (Timatic).

This means that all airline check-in staff would be aware of these changes and would not be requesting UBCs, even though some overseas tour operators are still advising their customers to carry UBCs.

SATSA spoke to several international airlines who confirmed that they are following the procedures outlined in Timatic. See their comments below:

1. British Airways

9 December 2019: “British Airways does not advise on visa requirements and regulations”

William Smook – Senior Consultant for British Airways

2. Lufthansa Airline

12 December 2019: “According to Lufhansa, the entry conditions of a country always apply to every visitor regardless of the carrier. So, all Lufthansa guests travelling to South Africa with a child do not have to carry an Unabridged Birth Certificate.

In some countries, special rules apply to the entry or exit of minors who either travel alone or are accompanied by an adult, parent or guardian. It is important for people to find out which documents are required for your trip to avoid refusal of entry or exit.

Lufthansa offers more information on entry processes here.

Statement from Lufthansa

3. Qantas Airways

17 December 2019: “Qantas welcomed the decision by the Minister to scrap Unabridged Birth Certificates (UBCs) for foreign minors travelling to the Republic of South Africa.

Following the announcement, we’ve updated our Travel Information which is available on the link below for your reference.

Please go to Document requirements for travel to/from South Africa for children under the age of 18 years.

When travelling on Qantas, we encourage travellers and Travel Agents/Tour Operators to check our Travel Advise page available on in order to prepare for their/their customers trip.  In addition, we encourage travellers, Travel Agents/Tour Operators to check with the relevant authorities to ensure travellers have the relevant documentations prior to them checking for their flights.  It remains the responsibility of the traveller to ensure documentation is valid.”

Michi Messner – Regional Manager Africa for Qantas Airways

4. Virgin Atlantic Airways

17 December 2019: “We can confirm that all our check-in agents have been briefed on the recent changes to the immigration regulations that relates to minors traveling to South Africa and that there is no requirement to carry unabridged birth certificates.”

Liezl Gericke – Head of Middle East, Africa and India for Virgin Atlantic Airways

5. SA Airlink

18 December 2019: “Airlink confirms that the policy and procedures for UBC as set out in the Advisory Document for travel on Airlink applies.”

Karin Murray – Marketing & Sales Manager for SA Airlink

After four years of rigorous lobbying, the announcement of the UBCs to be scrapped for was made official last month.

A new travel advisory was issued by the Department of Home Affairs on 8 November 2019, which clearly states what the requirements are for foreign minors travelling to South Africa.

SATSA urges tour operators to inform their customers that the requirement for UBCs has been removed for foreign minors. We look forward to 2020 being the year where South Africa can once again position itself as a family friendly travel destination.

Yours in tourism,
Natalia Rosa


Update on Coronavirus and travel to South Africa

As of 4 February 2020, there are no reported or suspected cases of Coronavirus in South Africa.

There is no impact on visitors to South Africa and no travel or trade advisories or restrictions have been put in place for travelling to South Africa, except those imposed on Chinese citizens by the Chinese government.

South African health authorities and hospitals are on high alert and temperature screening remains in place at most international airports in South Africa. This is a routine precaution that was instituted at airports in 2010.

Any passenger found to be ill or exhibiting fever symptoms on arrival will be reviewed at airport clinics. The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) confirms that South African hospitals are prepared to deal with any Corona-related problems and laboratories have facilities in place to test for the respiratory disease.

The national Department of Health and the NICD have developed and distributed clinical guidelines and case definitions for doctors and nurses in both the public and private sectors to better detect, identify and respond to a possible 2019-nCoV case.

The guidelines include guidance on what samples to collect to confirm the diagnosis as well as how to best manage the case clinically and to prevent the spread to others while the diagnosis is being made.

In the majority of cases, the impact to patients has been fairly mild although several deaths have occurred mainly in older patients or those already experiencing underlying medical issues. No vaccine has been developed as yet.

Several airlines and travel suppliers have issued travel waivers and additional screening in response to curbing the spread of coronavirus. Please check with your airline and travel suppliers regarding rebooking and cancellation policies.

The outbreak is evolving rapidly and it is unclear how it will spread.

SATSA supports our members’ decision to waive cancellation fees for Chinese citizens due to force majeure (Chinese government ban on travelling) and thereby protecting the reputation of brand South Africa. We are however aware that tourists of other nationalities are also requesting cancellation fees to be waived. We advise that these tourists should rather postpone their trips with fewer penalties or be liable for the standard cancellation fees.