Before 2013, The Department of Home Affairs would issue two birth certificates: an abridged certificate and an unabridged certificate. An abridged birth certificate would be available in minutes or hours after the child was born. Later, parents could go to Home Affairs to apply to get an unabridged birth certificate that would take anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months to receive. Then in 2013, the legislation changed that streamlined these birth certificates into one document. This change in legislation left many confused about whether their children have an abridged or unabridged birth certificate and whether they need to get the other document. Thankfully, if you want to know the difference between the unabridged and abridged birth certificate, this guide should help you understand.
Why Does It Matter if A Child Has an Abridged or Unabridged Birth Certificate?
The purpose of a birth certificate is to identify the child. However, in an attempt to reduce human trafficking and fraud, the Department of Home Affairs announced in 2014 that parents would need to produce an unabridged birth certificate when travelling with a minor.
Just a year prior, the government had streamlined the birth certificate process, doing away with the abridged birth certificate and encouraging parents to get an unabridged birth certificate. Now, many schools require an unabridged birth certificate when children apply. Additionally, parents who intend to take their minor children out of the country or re-enter the country will need to provide an unabridged birth certificate, especially if only accompanied by one parent.
Unabridged vs Abridged Birth Certificate: What’s The Difference?
The primary difference between the abridged in comparison to the unabridged birth certificate is that an unabridged birth certificate includes the details of both parents instead of the particulars of only one parent.
What is An Abridged Birth Certificate?
Children born before March 2013 will likely have an abridged birth certificate. This birth certificate includes the child’s particulars, like first names and surname, date of birth, ID number, gender, and country of origin, in addition to the details of the biological mother.
What is An Unabridged Birth Certificate?
The unabridged birth certificate includes all the child’s particulars – like the abridged birth certificate – however, it also contains the details of both biological parents and not just the mother. These details will include the parents’ ID number, city of birth, full names, and citizenship.
How to Get an Unabridged Birth Certificate?
At birth, all children born within South Africa are issued with an unabridged birth certificate. However, if your child was born before March 2013, they may not have an unabridged birth certificate, in which case you can follow the steps below to attain one. The process outlined below can also be followed by those who are abroad and require an unabridged birth certificate to enter or re-enter the country.
Step 1: Prepare Supporting Documentation and Applicable Fees
Before visiting home affairs – or an appropriate government office – you should have the required documentation. This documentation would be the ID of both parents or guardians. In the case that copies are used, they would need to be certified copies of the ID. Parents should also bring the abridged birth certificate of the child and the R75 fee in cash.
Step 2: Visit Home Affairs, Consulate, or Embassy
If you’re in South Africa, you can visit your local Home Affairs office. However, if you’re overseas, you can visit the nearest South African mission, consulate, or embassy. You can find a complete list of South African high commissions, embassies, and consulates here.
Step 3: Complete The BI-154
Then when you’re at home affairs or a South African mission, you will need to request a BI-154 form to get an unabridged birth certificate. When filling in the form, you need to include the forenames and surnames of both parents, in addition to the information of the “applicant,” which in this case would be the minor.
After submitting the BI-154 form, you will need to wait for 6 to 8 weeks to receive the unabridged birth certificate. You will then need to pick up the certificate from home affairs or the mission.
In cases where travel is urgent, express this to the officials at Home Affairs. They should be able to provide you with a letter that states the details of both parents. This letter will be acceptable for travel and re-enter into South Africa.
Do You Need an Unabridged Birth Certificate to Travel?
For domestic travel (travel within South Africa’s borders), parents will not need to provide an unabridged birth certificate. However, when travelling abroad with a minor or re-entering the country with a minor, parents will need to produce an unabridged birth certificate. Furthermore, foreign parents will only need to provide an unabridged birth certificate for their child if they’re travelling alone or with one parent.
For South African Travellers:
In addition to the unabridged birth certificate, if the child is accompanied by one parent, that parent must provide one of the following documents in addition to the birth certificate:
- An affidavit not older than three months consenting to the child’s travel, or
- A court order that grants the parent sole guardianship or parental responsibilities, or
- A death certificate for the other parent.
For Foreign Travellers:
If foreign parents are trying to enter or leave South Africa with a minor, besides the unabridged birth certificate, they will need to provide the following documents:
- Court order bestowing full parental custody or rights to the parent, or
- Authorised consent from the other parent, and
- The contact details of both parents and/or guardians
In cases where the documents are in a language other than English, the documents must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a relevant authority.
If you need any more assistance understanding the abridged and unabridged birth certificate process or need additional help regarding the documents necessary to travel with a minor, contact the Department of Home Affairs. You can reach them by phone on 0800 60 11 90 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.