Legal FAQ’s for Weddings in South Africa

Do we have to get blood tests before we are married?
No. Blood tests are not a legal requirement in South Africa.

Do we need to get a marriage licence before we are married?
There is no such thing as a marriage licence in South Africa.

Do my witnesses have to be South African and in the country for a set period of time before the wedding?
Your witnesses can be of any nationality and has no legal requirement to be in the country for any length of time prior to the wedding. The only legal requirements are that they witness the wedding (obviously), are 16 years or older and have a copy of proof of identification i.e: copy of identity document or passport.

Do my fiance/fiancee and I need to be in South Africa for any length of time before the wedding?
No, there is no legal requirement for either or both of you to be in South Africa before the wedding but it is advisable that you arrive a couple of days prior to the wedding, to meet your marriage officer and sort out the legal stuff.

Do I have to get married indoors or under a roof?
If you wish to be married outdoors, you are required by South African law to repeat the legal part (the signing of the register) in a venue specified by South African Law, namely ” . . .in a church or other building used for religious services or in a public office (i.e. a Government office) or in a private dwelling house.”Your marriage officer/wedding co-ordinator will be able to advise you on the best way to combine the legal requirements and your specific venue and wedding.

Can I get married on any day and at any time?
South African law has no restrictions on day or time i.e: Monday-Sunday, 24/7, 365 days

Can I keep my maiden/current surname after the ceremony?
South Africa law states that a bride can: 1) keep her maiden name, 2) change here surname to that of her new husband, 3) join her name to that of her new husband or 4) keep a surname she has legally obtained previously. All you have to do is inform your Marriage Officer of your preference and he/she will make the necessary arrangements.

Are Muslim & Hindu Marriages Legal in South Africa
Muslim and Hindu marriages can be polygamous, which means the man can have more than one wife. It is therefore not recognised by South African law.
However, if the couple marry according to both their religious rituals and in accordance with the civil requirements, their marriage will be legally recognised. But, this means that the husband will not be able to take another wife as this is in conflict with civil law.

How can I find out if my marriage was registered in South Africa?
If you or your husband has a South African ID Number you can visit the following website ( your application.html*) to check online if your marriage was registered.
If neither of you are/were South African Citizens, you’ll need to either contact the marriage officer who married you or you’ll need to contact the Department of Home Affairs by phone where you marriage would have been registered.
*As with all things in Home Affairs, this online app is temperamental

How can I obtain a copy of my marriage certificate?
On the day of your wedding, your marriage officer must issue you with an Abridged Marriage Certificate free of charge.
Once your marriage has been registered, you may apply for any of the following at any time:
1) An abridged certificate
2) An unabridged certificate
3) A vault copy (i.e.: a certified copy of the original register)
You can apply for them at either (within South Africa) your nearest Department Home Affairs or (Internationally) nearest South African Embassy.
All you will need is to download and fill in the following form: Form BI-130.

Legal Requirements for Weddings in South Africa
Can I get married on a beach or anywhere outdoors?
Marriage and South African Law
Same-Sex Marriages in South Africa
To Take His Name or Not to Take His Name


  • Jacqui Dale

    Is there a website where I can find out about court weddings? My fiance and I would like to get married legally as soon as possible because he is going to work overseas and I need a spousal visa to go with him.

  • sa wedding

    Dear Jacqui,

    You’ve really put my searching skills to the test. Unfortunetly I haven’t been able to find a webiste aimed at or packed with info about weddings in court.
    If you wish to have a wedding asap then perhaps you should visit your nearest Home Affairs Office or give them all call for more info.
    Some Home Affairs Offices have special rooms in which they’ll perform an intimate and legal wedding for you.
    If this is not for you, then find a marriage officer that will come to your house or restuarant or venue and perform a small wedding for you.
    Both options are legal and once you have your marriage certificate, you can apply for your Spousal Visa.

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  • nats

    My partner and i are both SA citizens living in SA. We are getting married in a church in the UK. The priest is Catholic and in England that is not recognized as a legal wedding without a registrar present. Unfortunately we cannot get a registrar without fulfilling their residency requirements. So is it possible to have the religious ceremony there and then have a civil proceedings in SA when we return?

  • sa wedding

    Dear Nats,

    Yes, you can have your religious ceremony in England and then have a Civil Ceremony in South Africa when you return.
    You can have it done by finding and booking a marriage officer (religious or not) or by contacting your nearest Department of Home Affairs. Some of their offices have special rooms in which they will conduct a legal/civil wedding.

    Please remember you’ll need to have your two witnesses and copies of everyones ID’s or passports. Once the marriage register/certificate has been signed, you are then legally married.

    Please also note, that on the day of your wedding (in South Africa) you will be given an abridged marriage certificate. If you want a full/unabridged marriage certificate then you’ll need to apply for one from the Department of Home Affairs.

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  • Edith

    I am a widow. I would like to change my surname back to my maiden surname. What should I do?

  • sa wedding

    Dear Edith,

    According to the Department of Home Affairs website – “In terms of section 26(1), a woman may assume her husband’s surname, or revert to her maiden surname or a prior surname she legally bore and since 1997 a woman may also join her surname with that of her husband’s as a double-barrelled surname. No application to the Department of Home Affairs is necessary in these instances, but to enable the Department to update the Population Register, women should notify the Department of such changes in writing.”
    For more info:

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

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