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flower Legal Requirements for Weddings in South Africa

July 22, 2006 By | 15 Comments

In South Africa, you will find a vast variety of venues in which to get married, from wine farms to majestic mountains, sun-soaked beaches to reverent places of worship. And, it’s not difficult to get married here – all you really need is a Marriage Officer, a couple of witnesses and a person who wants to marry you!

Making sure that your marriage is legal is pretty straightforward. Marriage Officers are usually persons serving in one of the major religions in South Africa (Christian, Jewish or Moslem) and they are generally very helpful indeed, particularly when it comes to the legal details.

Signed Marriage Certificate
The Marriage Officer will require you to supply the following documents:

A) The couple are BOTH South African

  • Clear copies of your Identity Documents
  • Clear copies of Divorce Decrees (if applicable)
  • Clear copies of Death Certificates (if applicable)
  • Clear copies of Identity Documents of your 2 witnesses.

Issuing of the Marriage Certificate

The marriage officer will present you with your original Abridged Marriage Certificate immediately after the ceremony and the marriage officer will register your marriage with the South African Department of Home Affairs.

If you require an Unabridged Marriage Certificate, one can be obtained from the South African Department of Home Affairs and usually takes 6-8 weeks to obtain. Speak to your Marriage Officer as many will gladly apply for one when he/she registers your marriage.

B) Both parties NOT South African

  • Clear copies of your valid Passports
  • Clear copies of Divorce Decrees (if applicable)
  • Clear copies of Death Certificates (if applicable)
  • Clear copies of Passports of your 2 witnesses

Each party needs to complete an affidavit – “Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage” – called a BI-31, which you will complete in the presence of the Marriage Officer when you arrive in South Africa. All Marriage Officers are Commissioner of Oaths and competent to complete this affidavit with you.

Issuing of the Marriage Certificate

An Abridged Marriage Certificate will be issued to you immediately after the ceremony. The Marriage Officer will register your marriage with the South African Department of Home Affairs and apply for your Unabridged Marriage Certificate, which you can use to register your marriage back in your home country. The Unabridged Marriage Certificate will be stamped “Apostille” by the High Court of South Africa. The issue of this certificate will take approximately 6-8 weeks. The Marriage Officer will then post this to your permanent home address.

C) One party is South African, the other party is NOT South African

  • Clear copies of your valid Passports and Identity Document
  • Clear copies of Divorce Decrees (if applicable)
  • Clear copies of Death Certificates (if applicable)
  • Clear copies of Passports or Identity Documents of your 2 witnesses

The Non-South African member needs to complete an affidavit – “Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage” – called a BI-31, which you will complete in the presence of the Marriage Officer when you arrive in South Africa. All Marriage Officers are Commissioner of Oaths and competent to complete this affidavit with you.

Issuing of the Marriage Certificates

An Abridged marriage certificate will be issued to you immediately after the ceremony. The Marriage Officer will register your marriage with the South African Department of Home Affairs and apply for your Unabridged Marriage Certificate, which you can use to register your marriage back in your home country. The Unabridged Marriage Certificate will be stamped “Apostille” by the High Court of South Africa. The issue of this certificate will take approximately 6-8 weeks. The Marriage Officer will then post this to your permanent home address.

Definition: APOSTILLE
Unabridged Marriage Certificates get stamped “Apostille” at the Cape Town High Court as authentication of certificate and issue.

Download:
“Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage” – BI-31
Adobe
To view the above file, you will need Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader, please click here to download it now.

RELATED ARTICLES:
Legal FAQ’s 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

Categories: Legal

15 Comments

  1. jennifer says:

    hi,
    we are both non-south african although we own a home in wellington, south africa; do we need a marriage license or a blood test? if so, how far in advance do we need this? and what is the cost?

    kind regards,
    jennifer

  2. sa wedding says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    If you and your partner are intending to be married in South Africa, regardless of whether you are South African or not or whether you own property here, the law does not require you to have either a marriage license or a blood test.

    Best Wishes

  3. Duane says:

    Greetings,

    We’re planning on having our wedding outdoors. We weren’t planning on having a gazebo, etc like a lot of people seem to do.

    I’ve been told that if we do have the wedding outdoors and it’s not under a roof, we’ll have to sign in court before/afterwards to have the marriage legalised.
    Others have told me that we can have the wedding ceremony outdoors and simply sign the wedding register indoors.

    Can you shed a little light on the matter?

    Regards
    Duane

  4. Alexandre says:

    Hi,

    I am a Brazilian going to work in Joburg for 4 years and I will take my fianceé with me.

    We are thinking to get marriage in South Africa to let her claim for an Accompany Visa, after I granted my Work Permission.

    Is this allowed?

    Regards,
    Alexandre.

  5. sa wedding says:

    Hi Duane,

    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.

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  6. sa wedding says:

    Hi Alexandre,

    Your fiancee may enter South Africa without a visa for up to 90 days.
    If you are married before you settle in South Africa on your work permit then she can apply and join you on a Sousal/Relative’s Visa.
    However, if you wish to be married after you are settled here, then this can be very tricky (i.e with getting a visitors visa and then re-applying for a spousal visa) and I advise you both to speak to your nearest South African Embassy to be on the safe side.

    Here are some sites that may help you both:
    http://www.home-affairs.gov.za/visas.asp
    South Africa Embassies Abroad
    SA Info – Visas

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  7. shaar says:

    Hi,

    My spouse and I are both not south african. However, we did get married in south africa in feb 2006. At the time of marriage we did not register with the department of home affairs and obtain a ceritficate. Is it possible to get one if we both sign and send all required documents needed to SA. Thank you

  8. sa wedding says:

    Hi Shaar,

    Your marriage officer should have supplied you with an Abridged Marriage Certificate on the day of your wedding. He/She would also have registered your marriage with the Department of Home Affairs.
    You can, therefore, at anytime apply for an abridged, unabridged or vault copy of a marriage certificate.
    You should be able to apply for this from your nearest South African Embassy by filling in a BI-130 Form (click here to download this form now).

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding Guide

  9. Bee says:

    My fiance and I are both South African citizens with SA passports, though resident in the UK with resident visas. We are getting married in South Africa in May, do we need to do anything beforehand, and will our marriage be recognised in the UK?

    Thanks
    B

  10. sa wedding says:

    Dear Bee,

    Yes, your marriage will be recognised in the UK.
    As you are both SA citizens residing in the UK it is important to note that according to SA Law, you will be married INTO community of property if an antenuptial contract is not signed. In parts of the UK it’s married OUT of community of property. I advise you to seek legal advise in the UK to stipulate which laws you will be living by.

    Best Wishes
    SA Wedding

  11. Frans says:

    I have been married is SA before. Procedures are easy and it’s not really that hard as long as you take enough time to get the bureaucracy done in time!

  12. joanne says:

    I am South African and my boyfriend is Irish. What are the legal requirements to getting married in South Africa?

  13. sa wedding says:

    Dear Joanne

    Part (c) of the above article lists all your requirements for you and your fiance to be married in South Africa.

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding

  14. Craig says:

    Me and my fiance plan to marry in South Africa, I am a UK citizen and she is South African. I have been told I need to provide a Certificate of No Impedement for the ceremony to proceed. Is this a must or is it different for each marriage officer?

  15. sa wedding says:

    Dear Craig,

    A Certificate of No Impediment is only required if you are to be married in a non-Common Wealth Country. As South Africa has rejoined the Common Wealth since 1994, you (as a non-South African) will only need to sign a “Declaration of Marriage (BI-31)” in the presence of your Marriage Office before the wedding.

    Best Wishes,
    SA Wedding