Birth certificate with DHA stamp

An unabridged birth certificate with a DHA stamp.


What are civic certificates or DHA documents?

DHA stands for the Department of Home Affairs. Civic services in any country include the issuance of civic certificates or documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates (often in unabridged and abridged formats), letters of no impediment, divorce decrees and others.

In the information on this page, we will be taking a look at how you can have birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates, and letters of no impediment legalised for use abroad.

If you plan on travelling abroad to work or study in a foreign country, you will have to get a variety of documents legalised before they can be used. Depending on whether or not you are travelling to a member country of the Hague Convention, you will either have to get your documents apostilled, or authenticated if the country you plan on visiting is not a member.


Birth Certificates, Death Certificates and Marriage Certificates can assist you in obtaining birth, marriage and death certificates remotely from abroad.

See our pricing here:

Download the application forms for the various certificates here. These forms are submitted to us when using our services on this page.

(for marriages recorded after 2000, we will require a copy of your DHA-30 form you signed on the marriage date.


Before these documents can be legalised for use abroad, you will need to have them apostilled or notarised by a Public Notary of your choice. It depends on what the authority you are submitting the document to requires. If apostilled, DIRCO will require the original document to proceed. If a Notary Public, they will make a certified copy of the original documents to show that the copy is indeed a true copy of the original. He or she will verify authenticity by means of a signature, a stamp, and a seal placed on the document. This can also be authenticated at the high court for attestation purposes (e.g. for Vietnam).


After the documents have been authenticated by the notary, they must be taken to the Registrar of the High Court of South Africa or DIRCO for further authentication. The Registrar will then verify the signature and seal of the Notary Public. In the case where the documents are to be used in a country that is a member of the Hague Convention, the documents will be Apostilled, but for non-signatory countries, they will be Authenticated as a means of verification.


After the authentication or apostille by the High Court, the documents must then be submitted to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Legalisation Section for further authentication. If the country is a signatory to the Apostille Convention, the High Court should issue and affix an Apostille Certificate to the document. An Apostille Certificate should not be submitted to the Legalisation Section because an Apostille is the only formality required to establish the origin of the public document – no additional requirement may be imposed to authenticate the origin of the public document.


You can submit official documents that have been signed by the relevant issuing authority to the Legalisation Section for authentication. Keep in mind that you will not be able to use copies of birth certificates or death certificates, but instead, you will need to submit original unabridged or full birth and death certificates for authentication purposes. This means that abridged certificates are not accepted for apostille and authentication purposes.

Read more about unabridged birth certificates and marriage certificates here:

ID documents, Passport copies and Driver’s Licences


For copies of the above documents, notarisation and apostille is possible through our services – simply indicate what you require to be done and we will attend to it. Normally, copies of identity documents or passports must first be notarised by a notary public and then apostilled, after which sometimes it is necessary to have the entire grouped set of documents translated by a Sworn Translator in the relevant language.

For confirmation that you have a Driver’s Licence, you can obtain a stamped and signed confirmation letter from the Department of Transport – Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), which authenticates your licence. This letter can then be apostilled, but an actual Driver’s Licence copy cannot be apostilled on its own.

Please note that we cannot assist with Driver’s Licences, ID documents or Passport applications. These documents require the applicant to be physically present and give biometrics and/or undergo testing.

Decrees of divorce


Divorce decrees and other divorce files and documents can only be obtained from the exact High Court where you were granted your divorce. It is very challenging to obtain divorce decrees due to the fact that you require your case number for any assistance and also because most courts have a poorly functioning public-facing desk. Often files are not electronic and one can even be turned away and referred to obtain legal help. In fact, sometimes the file is unobtainable, even through our services.

A decree of divorce, when used overseas, must be authenticated at the High Court and must have the court’s stamp (usually in red), plus be apostilled or authenticated as well. Sometimes, however, a saving option is that many countries accept a notarised copy of your divorce decree which has been apostilled or authenticated at the high court. We can always assist you in this case.

Read everything about obtaining a divorce decree in South Africa here.

What is a Letter of No Impediment?


Especially for those who were previously married, along with your decree of divorce (authenticated and apostilled), a Letter of No Impediment (literally meaning nothing impedes/stops you from getting married) is needed to prove you are not currently married. Most countries require this or they will not allow you to marry within their borders and will not register your marriage.

Letter of No Impediment

An excerpt from a real Letter of No Impediment showing the wording for DIVORCED.


A Letter of No Impediment can be legalised if an original, official Home Affairs letterhead, signed and stamped by the authorised Home Affairs official (Head Office only) has been provided. Keep in mind that these official letters are only valid for a period of six months from the date on which they were issued, and that some countries see the validity as less than 6 months.

Example of Letter of No Impediment for South Africa

An example of Letter of No Impediment for South Africa (click to enlarge).

The Department of Home Affairs can only confirm that any Letter of No Impediment is issued, stamped and signed by the authorised official Head Office of the Department of Home Affairs. Letters issued by Regional Home Affairs offices cannot be accepted for legalisation purposes, as they have been issued without the correct authorisation. This can be an issue – the signature on your Letter of No Impediment has to be accepted and if not, could see the document declared invalid. You may also need to apply for a new Letter of No Impediment.

Lastly, it is worth checking if perhaps an affidavit of your single or divorced status is enough to satisfy the requirements of the authority you are submitting to. This can be handled in a matter of days instead of weeks.


Read more about letters of no impediment here:

How long does Home Affairs take to issue birth and marriage certificates?


Unfortunately, if you attempt it alone, especially abroad at South African embassies, birth and marriage certificates usually take 6 to 8 months (for example from London) and at least two months in South Africa. Also, for divorcees, letters of non-impediment can only be issued once your previous divorce has been registered and your status updated on the Home Affairs system, which can take up to 8 months. Please note that for marriages after the year 2000, without a DHA-30 form in your application, you will not get a marriage certificate from the DHA.

Since time is of the essence, using a professional service is key. We have seen numerous couples have happy weddings abroad, because their documents were obtained speedily and in time. Our services can have civic certificates ready for you in less than 3-6 months (depending on which document is required and which service timing is chosen).

Before the courier of any documents to you, they can also be apostilled or authenticated. See our pricing or complete the form below.

Complete the Home Affairs documentation form: