With only weeks before the 1 October 2014 deadline for the implementation of South Africa’s new visa regulations those planning to travel by sea are urged to ensure that their passports and other travel documentation is in order before boarding a ship – even if it is just for a holiday at sea.
Speaking of the new South African travel requirements, the Mediterranean shipping company have issued a statement encouraging travellers to ensure that they are in possession of the correct and complete travel documentation required by South African border officials or face the consequences.
One of the new visa system requirements is that parents or guardians travelling with children must be able to present additional documents which includes, but is not limited to, an unabridged birth certificate for every child in their travelling party.
Parents, guardians and anyone wishing to cross a South African border with a child will have to, where applicable, present border officials with written permission for a child to travel - from an absent parent, divorce decrees, death certificates and more along with original unabridged birth certificates , to name a few.
Other documentation requirements have also changed and will come into effect on 1 October 2014 this year.
In a statement released by MSC earlier this week the group called on passengers to ensure that their documents comply with the new immigration requirements. These precautions are requested to avoid MSC being in the position where they would have to deny any passengers access to their cruise ships.
Speaking on behalf of MSC their general manager for South Africa, Merle Hambakis said, “Travellers should also be warned that even certified copies may not be accepted,” Hambakis added that, “The message had been well communicated and expected most passengers would be aware of the pending changes.”
With the expected South African arrival of the MSC Opera later in October Ms Hambakis said that there was sufficient time for travellers to ensure that their travel documents are in line with the new laws, but added that, “MSC was expecting some difficulty in the event a minor’s guardian or absent parent could not be reached to obtain written approval.
“The new requirements only apply to itineraries with calls to any international port, Ms. Hambakis reiterated.
"The only exception is for cruises that do not leave South African waters, as in a cruise to nowhere, MSC’s Mossel Bay cruise and cruises from Durban to Cape Town and vice versa."
At the same time Cruise Vacations’ general manager, Gaynor Neill, advised that the new immigration regulations also have implications for foreign permanent residents living in South Africa. Such travellers are now required to carry their full permanent residence certificate, even though it stamped in their passports, she stressed. Failing to present proof of permanent residency could result in the traveller being declared an “undesirable person” by the Department of Home Affairs and this will mean being banned entry into the country for as long as five years.
“Passengers need to realise that, like visa requirements, it is the passenger’s full responsibility to ensure they have the correct travel documentation. Full cancellation penalties apply and cannot be waived should a passenger miss their cruise or have to cancel due to not having the correct paperwork,” said Neill.