Often, South African nationals are asked to present a Letter of No Impediment when travelling internationally. On this page, we will be taking a closer look at what exactly this legal document is and how we can help you obtain your letter of no impediment.
What exactly is a Letter of No Impediment?
A Letter (or Certificate) of No Impediment is requested from foreign authorities when South African nationals want to get married in foreign countries. The certificate is issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs to confirm the current marital status of an individual. The certificate is valid and can be used for six months from the date of issuing. Although we call it a letter of no impediment, the certificate goes by various names, including:
• Non-Impediment Letter
• No-Impediment Certificate
• Declaration of Non-Impediment to Marry
• Certificate of Freedom to Marry
• Statutory Declaration of Single Status
• Single Status Letter / Certificate
• Statement In-Lieu of Certificate of Non-Impediment to Marriage Abroad
• Affidavit of Intended Marriage
If you were married in the past, you would need a Letter of No Impediment (together with a decree of divorce) to prove that you are not currently married. In most foreign countries, you will need this legal document, or you might not be allowed to marry within their borders or have your marriage registered in that country.
If you have an original Letter of No Impediment, you can have it legalised. It will then be done on an official Home Affairs letterhead after which it will be signed and stamped by an authorised Home Affairs official.
The South African Department of Home Affairs is able to confirm that a Letter of No Impediment is issued, stamped, and signed by authorised Home Affairs officials. If you have a Letter of No Impediment that was issued by a Regional Home Affairs office, the letter cannot legally be used. The only letters of no impediment that can legally be used to get married abroad are those that have been issued by the Department of Home Affairs Head Office.
Who needs to apply for a Letter of No Impediment?
If you wish to get married outside of South Africa, you might be required to submit an apostilled letter of no impediment to foreign authorities. The purpose of the letter is to confirm that you have the right and the freedom to get married legally. If you are getting married in a country that is a signatory of the Hague Convention of 1961, you are going to use an Apostilled letter, which makes the legalisation of documents much easier.
The process can be much more complicated if you plan to get married in a country which is not part of the Convention. If this is the case, your Letter of No Impediment will have to be authenticated as part of a three-level process. But regardless of whether or not you are getting married in a signatory country, the Letter of No Impediment is still essential for you to obtain your visa and permits.
How can you apply for a Letter of No Impediment in South Africa?
At Apostil.co.za, we dedicate our time and effort toward helping South African nationals apply for and obtain their legal documents for use abroad. When applying for a letter of no impediment, applications can be lodged with the Department of Home Affairs or a SA High Commission office (very, very long waiting period).
When applying for a letter of no impediment, there will be a form that you need to complete and an application fee that you will need to pay. Depending on how many applications the High Commission Office has to process at any given time, it may take longer than six months for your application to be processed and your letter to be issued.
It is advisable to double-check your South African marital status before you apply for your Letter of No Impediment. Fraudulent marriages are reported to the South African Department of Home Affairs on a daily basis. You want to ensure your identity was not used as part of a scam and that your records might already indicate that you are married before applying for this official letter. We can help you verify your legal marital status too, so before applying for a Letter of No Impediment, get in touch with us.
How long does it take to obtain a Letter of No Impediment?
Depending on how easily accessible your records are within the Department of Home Affairs’ archives, processing times for these certificates may vary. It can take up to six months for you to receive your Letter of No Impediment through a SA High Commission or consulate. We are able to assist you in either 4-6 weeks or 2-3 weeks (see pricing and timing here).
Why Letters of No Impediment are important
Letters of no impediment are official government documents that provide information indicating that a thorough search has been conducted on your personal credentials and that no record of marriage could be found on your name. Otherwise, people would be able to marry people in different countries without each country knowing about the other marriage!
Officially issued by the South African Department of Home Affairs, certificates of no impediment serve to confirm the marital status of a South African national. Once issued, these certificates are valid for a period of six months and may be used for legal processes both inside and outside of South Africa, including visa and residency applications, as well as marital procedures.
How we can help you obtain a Letter of No Impediment
If you need to obtain a Letter of No Impediment, but do not wish to stand in queues at Home Affairs, or are unable to, we can take the stress out of the situation. Apostil.co.za is an agency in South Africa, specialising in legal document assistance.
You will need to send the following to us:
• Mandatory: Your ID document or passport in a clear PDF scan
• Mandatory: A completed form – filled in with black ink and PDF scanned to us. Download the DHA Letter of No Impediment DHA-1155 Form for us to assist you.
Here at Apostil.co.za, we can help you apply for and obtain your Letter of No Impediment if you wish to get married in a foreign country. We can help take the hassle out of the process for you. We have a range of pricing options available. Feel free to get in touch with us today for all your legal document requirements.