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Consumer Affairs
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
The costs of paperwork

The incompetence of the South African Department of Home Affairs is now costing consumers another R3,4 million a week to obtain visas for visiting the UK. Since March this year it has been a requirement for South African passport holders because the security of their documentation is not reliable. According to Business Day in a recent report visas processed each week averaged 4 000. The visa costs £64 for a single entry and more for multiyear, multiple entry visas. If this average were to continue for the year it would amount to R177m a year. It is not surprising airlines are lobbying to get the policy reversed fearing the additional travelling costs are hurting their businesses.

But it is unlikely they will get much sympathy. The problem is not just the quality and security of the passports themselves. Supporting documentation such as birth and marriage certificates are also unreliable — so much so that many consulates call for ‘full’ certificates with some requiring an affidavit‡, or even an apostille‡, which in this country is obtained through the Supreme Court duly certified, with waxed ribbon seal (quite a palaver). And, of course, it all takes time and costs more money.
‡ Footnote:
Affidavit. An affidavit is a formal sworn statement of fact, signed by the author, who is called the affiant or deponent, and witnessed as to the authenticity of the affiant's signature by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public or commissioner of oaths. In South Africa it can also be attested at the local police station.
Apostille. An apostille is a French word which means ‘a certification’. It is commonly used in English to refer to the legalisation of a document for international use under the terms of the 5th October 1961 Hague Convention: Abolishing the Requirement of Legalisation for Foreign Public Documents.
Documents that have been notarised by a notary public, and certain other documents, and then certified with a conformant apostille are accepted for legal use in all the nations that have signed the Hague Convention. A Certificate of Authentication is required instead for countries that are not party to the Hague Convention.

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:22.7 1st July, 2009
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