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What is a Vault Copy of One’s Birth Record or Vault Copy of a Birth Certificate?

South Africa captures a child’s birth record through a pre-printed form which the child’s parents, parent or legal guardian filled out by hand and this is considered to be the single most accurate record of a person’s birth in South Africa.

In terms of The Births and Deaths Registration legislation, all children born in South Africa are required to be registered within 30 days of their birth.

The child’s parents, parent, legal guardians or any other person legally responsible for the child are required to complete the birth registration form which must be submitted to the Department of Home Affairs if they are in South Africa or the nearest South African Embassy mission or Consulate if they are located abroad. For decades, the registration forms have been required to be completed in black ink. These applications, known as the vault Birth Record go on to be stored in a secure vault at the South African Home Affairs department in Pretoria and will never leave.

Since 2015, Unabridged Birth Certificates are issued free of charge within a day after submission of the birth registration application. Prior to that, starting in 1994, only Abridged Birth Records were issued free of charge.

A Vault Copy of a Birth Certificate is essentially a photocopy of the handwritten form that was completed using black ink by the parents or Legal Guardians of the child. In order to issue the certificate, a home affairs official  –  with sufficient clearance – retrieves the document from the vault, copies it and then proceeds to attest that the copy is indeed an accurate reflection of the original record which he/she does by stamping the document with the traditional pink stamp and signing the document.

When is the is the vault copy of one’s birth record for Vault copy of a birth certificate required?

Any South African who applies for foreign citizenship or dual citizenship is required to include The Vault Copy of his /her Birth Certificate together with an Unabridged Birth Certificate to motivate the person’s application.

South Africans applying for British citizenship, British Ancestral Visas or applying for or wanting to renew a British passport, will require a Vault Copy of a Birth Record  / Birth Certificate. This document is also required for first time passport applications as well as where South African born, British passport holders have allowed their passport to lapse.

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