Did you know that registering your marriage is a crucial step in preparing to get married? Before completing your vows, there are some essential things you need to do to ensure your marriage is legal. One of those important boxes to tick off your to-do list is to register your marriage in South Africa. Otherwise, as far as the South African government and Department of Home Affairs is concerned, your marriage never happened!
Different types of marriages in South Africa
In South Africa, three different types of marriages are recognised. The Department of Home Affairs validates and registers marriages, civil unions, and customary unions. Here is a look at the differences between the three (as of March 2021, as things look to be changing soon).
Traditionally officiated by a religious, government, or state-approved official, South Africa’s marriages are governed by the Marriage Act (Act 25 of 1961). Unless antenuptial contracts are entered into, weddings in South Africa are generally in community of property.
2. Civil Union
Same-sex partners may enter into civil unions under the Civil Union Act (Act 17 of 2006). Although the Marriage Act’s legal consequences apply to civil unions, they are only used within the context of the Civil Union Act. Partners entering into civil unions still need to have their partnership formalised by a designated marriage officer.
3. Customary Marriage
Customary marriages are negotiated and concluded according to indigenous African customs that exist in South Africa and do not include marriages in accordance with Muslim, Hindu, and other religious rites. According to the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act (Act 120 of 1998), customary marriages are acknowledged and carry legal consequences.
Registering your marriage and ensuring its validity in South Africa
In order to legally get married in SA, your marriage needs to adhere to the following rules:
- An authorised marriage officer must formalise the ceremony.
- At least two witnesses must be present.
- Marriages and civil unions must take place in a church or public office or house with open doors.
- If a foreign national is marrying a South African citizen, valid passports for both partners and a completed BI-31 Form (Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage, Letter of No Impediment) must be presented.
- If any persons getting married are divorced, the final decree of divorce must also be furnished.
Registering your marriage and obtaining a marriage certificate
The persons getting married, along with two eligible witnesses and the marriage officer, will sign the marriage register on the day of the ceremony. The marriage officer is responsible for submitting the signed log to the National Population Register. This ensures that the marriage is recorded and registered in South Africa.
After the DHA registers the marriage, an unbridged marriage certificate can be issued, but this is not always so. For assistance in this regard, refer to our page on Civic Certificates.
Difference between abridged and unabridged marriage certificate
All couples that get legally married in South Africa are automatically issued with marriage register certificates. DHA offices issue unabridged marriage certificates once the details of marriage have been captured and registered.
Unabridged marriage certificates are usually issued for couples with plans to travel outside of the country, as abridged versions of the certificate cannot normally be used outside of the Republic. Read more about this on our Apostilles page.
Need help registering your marriage?
Here at Apostil.co.za, we can assist you with registering your marriage in South Africa, even if you aren outside of the country. Many people wait months to have their marriage registered and in the meanwhile cannot continue with their lives, be it for changing surnames and documentation, or applying for visas. Therefore, to avoid any delay in the process for whatever reason, once you are married, engage with us to complete a marriage registration service.
Our service includes doing everything on your behalf (completing the relevant forms, travel, queueing, application forms, submitting and much, much more).
We can also help with getting your marriage registered in the shortest time possible so you can apply for other vital documents such as unabridged marriage certificates. 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!