South African birth certificates indicate the names of both parents of a child, but this was not always the case. Before 2013, South African citizens travelling abroad or re-entering the country could do so with the use of a standard abridged birth certificate. In this post, we explore the abridged vs. unabridged birth certificates to help you better understand the differences between the two.
Understanding abridged vs. unabridged birth certificates
Abridged birth certificates merely indicate the name and surname of a child’s mother. Unabridged birth certificates include the details of both the mother and the father.
From 1995 up until March 2013, South African children were issued with abridged birth certificates that stated the name and surname of their biological mother. Children who were born after March 2013 were issued with unabridged birth certificates, which indicate the name and surname of both their biological parents. Recently, the unabridged and abridged birth certificates fell away, and children are now automatically issued with The Birth Certificate, which indicates the name and surname of both parents.
Even though birth certificates issued after March 2013 do not indicate that they are the unabridged version, this extended version of the birth certificate replaced the older abridged version and are the only birth certificates that are now issued to South African citizens.
In 2015, when the Unabridged Birth Certificate Regulations were issued, there was a huge uproar amongst travellers entering and leaving South Africa with minor children. South African citizens, as well as foreign visitors, were required to produce their child’s unabridged birth certificate before they could enter or leave the country, which is why the Department of Home Affairs was forced to revise their regulations and do away with the confusion between abridged and unabridged birth certificates.
Birth Certificate Regulations for South African Citizens (November 2016)
In the case where you need to have your official South African documents legalised for use abroad, you will have to obtain your unabridged birth certificate if you only have a copy of your abridged certificate. This entails a visit to the Department of Home Affairs and a waiting period of roughly six weeks. After your unabridged birth certificate has been issued, you can send it to the Legalisation Section of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to get it affixed with an Apostille seal (if you are traveling to a signatory country of the Hague Convention) or a Certificate of Authentication (if you are traveling to a non-signatory country of the Hague Convention).
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