Sometimes, you will be required to submit an unabridged marriage certificate for use in legal processes. On this page, we will be taking a closer look at what exactly this document is and how we can help you obtain an unabridged marriage certificate.


💡 Please note! For all marriages, Home Affairs has not updated their Marriage Certificate information on the DHA systems. This means that without a BI-30 / DHA-30 marriage register form (click for an example), it is very difficult to obtain an unabridged marriage certificate on your own. Your BI-30 or DHA-30 form is the one you sign together on the day you get married (usually with two photos and fingerprints on the right hand side). can still assist you to obtain an unabridged marriage certificate with your marriage register!


What exactly is an unabridged marriage certificate?


An unabridged marriage certificate proves that two people are legally married and that they have a legally binding marriage contract in place. Unabridged marriage certificates are official records denoting that two people have participated in a partnership and it includes jurisdictions where wedding licenses are not in place.

Some authorities see unabridged marriage certificates as serving a dual purpose. Firstly, the certificate serves as proof that nuptials are permissible, and secondly, that the marriage has been witnessed by eligible witnesses. An unabridged marriage certificate is also referred to as a “full marriage certificate” or “long-form marriage certificate”.


Who needs to obtain an unabridged marriage certificate?


Individuals who wish to travel internationally or apply for visas for certain countries will need to apply for unabridged marriage certificates before they can apply for other travel documentation. There can also be many other reasons for requiring the document – citizenship applications, adoptions, etc.


How long does it take to obtain an unabridged birth certificate?


The processing time to expedite the application for an unabridged birth certificate is generally less than three months. Keep in mind that the process may on occasion take longer, depending on how easily accessible the original records can be retrieved from the Home Affairs archives.


What is the difference between abridged and unabridged marriage certificates?


When you get married in South Africa, you will automatically be issued with a marriage register or certificate. Once registered at Home Affairs, you can obtain an abridged marriage certificate over the counter at most DHA offices. You can also obtain an unabridged version, naturally once you are on the Home Affairs system, but this requires an application and a long wait. Both certificates have value, but in essence, there are a lot of differences between the two certificates.

Abridged marriage certificates are issued by the Department of Home Affairs on default after a wedding took place in South Africa. The married couple often receives this certificate immediately after their wedding. If you live, work, and plan to stay in South Africa, this certificate should suffice.

An unabridged marriage certificate is only issued by the Department of Home Affairs and thus the only version that counts in overseas applications. This document is given to South African couples as well as non-South African couples (if they apply for it) that get married within the Republic. These certificates are also issued in the event where one partner in the married couple is a foreign national. These certificates are typically issued if the couple lives outside of South Africa or have plans to travel outside of the country, but your reason for application can be anything and you will not be denied application.

Unabridged Marriage Certificate New Format Home Affairs South AfricaVery importantly, unabridged marriage certificates from the Department of Home Affairs in South Africa no longer have the word UNABRIDGED on them. They only state MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE, but the extra details of the parties show that it is in fact unabridged.

You will definitely need the unabridged marriage certificate if you plan to emigrate or apply for a foreign passport. One of the biggest differences between abridged and unabridged marriage certificates is that the unabridged certificates carry apostille stamps. and signatures – see the above image for an example.

The unabridged marriage certificate contains more information than the abridged marriage certificate. Full marriage certificates (unabridged) offer more proof of the marriage and can be used in any legal processes. If the couple is later divorced, they can still apply for an “old” marriage certificate from the past, and although this is tricky, can still assist. The couple can also individually obtain a Letter of No Impediment to prove their legal status in South Africa.

How we can help you?


If you need to obtain an unabridged marriage certificate but do not wish to stand in queues at Home Affairs, we can take the stress out of the situation. is an agency in South Africa, specialising in legal document assistance.

You will need to send the following to us:


Mandatory: Your ID document in a clear PDF scan
Possibly: Copies of the ID of your spouse in a clear PDF scan
Highly beneficial: Your marriage register (DHA-30) received on the day of marriage (usually has two photos and fingerprints on the right hand side)
Mandatory: A completed form – filled in with black ink and PDF scanned to us. Download the DHA Marriage Certificate DHA-130 application for us to assist you.


We can assist you in obtaining an unabridged marriage certificate. We handle everything on your behalf. We make the process of getting your certificates and passport applications from Home Affairs South Africa processed much faster and hassle-free. Our team of experts is ready to help you with all your legal document requirements, so feel free to get in touch with us today!