Answer to a question from a reader

What documents will I need for my baby if I, a foreign national, give birth in South Africa?

The short answer

You first need to register your baby's birth with Home Affairs, then apply for their passport at your embassy/consulate so that you can apply for an Accompanying Minors Visa.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I am a foreign national pursuing a Master's degree in South Africa. I discovered I was pregnant shortly after arriving in South Africa. Can I give birth here? And will my child get any documents allowing us to fly back to my home country? 

The long answer

Yes, you can certainly give birth here. In South Africa, a child’s birth must be registered at the Department of Home Affairs within 30 days, if possible, in terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (BDRA). All births must be registered, whether you are a South African citizen or not. 

All children are entitled to a birth certificate and an identity. As a non-South African, the baby would be issued with an unabridged birth certificate which shows the details of both parents (if possible) and passport number, but will not contain an Identity Number, which is only issued to South African citizens.   

Scalabrini says that in some clinics and maternity wards, there is an office (run by Home Affairs) that can issue a birth certificate for your child in the hospital before you leave, after giving birth.

Otherwise, the birth can be registered by a parent, guardian or any other person legally responsible for the child at a Home Affairs office nearest to where you live. 

You would need to take your baby to Home Affairs and say you want to register the baby’s birth. The application is free of charge. 

IBN Immigration Solutions says in a helpful article that once you have got the unabridged birth certificate, you need to apply for a passport for the child from your Embassy or Consulate. The child’s passport will be one of the documents needed to apply for an Accompanying Minors Visa. This will be issued in the child’s passport as a Long-Term Visitor’s Visa.

The Accompanying Minors Visa application must be submitted at the nearest VFS Global office, close to where you live. (VFS manages Visa Facilitation Centres for Home Affairs.) 

IBN says that you will need to schedule a follow-up appointment at the same VFS office, and at that appointment, the child will need to be present for biometric authentication. VFS then sends the application to Home Affairs and it will take some weeks to receive the outcome, but the child’s passport is returned to you after the submission process.

Importantly, IBN goes on to say the following: “Most people are unaware that the parents and the child are permitted to travel out of South Africa while awaiting the outcome of the application (my emphasis). The child will not be declared an undesirable. This is because the child does not have a visa that can ‘expire’ and can therefore not be flagged as an overstay. However, parents may be requested to show evidence to Immigration that the correct paperwork has been submitted to the Department of Home Affairs.”

Wishing you the best,

Answered on July 4, 2024, 4:06 p.m.

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