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Legalising Foreign Marriages in South Africa

South Africa has for a while became a preferred destination for work, tourism, retirement, religious, business and other various activities. This has resulted in increased interaction between foreign nationals and locals in the carrying out of the aforementioned activities. Consequently, marriages between foreign nationals and South Africans have become commonplace as social barriers become less and less matters of concern.

registration of foreign marriages in South Africa

Recognition of Foreign Marriage in South Africa

While other foreign nationals married to South Africans eventually decide to settle in South Africa, some have opted to reside in their countries of origin with their South African spouses. Others still emigrate abroad before marriage and conclude marriages there with their South African partners.

The fundamental question would be, upon conclusion of the marriage in a foreign country, does the marriage automatically become recognised and valid in South Africa?

The short answer is, not exactly. There are further processes that must be done in order for the marriage between a foreign national and a South African abroad to be recognised and validated in South Africa.

When the marriage is concluded in such foreign country, a marriage certificate is issued and must be apostilled there. The process of Apostille is according to the Hague Convention, which sought to standardise the authentication of public documents for acceptance and use in member countries.

Once the marriage certificate is apostilled, it can be used in many countries of the world who are members of the Hague Convention of which South Africa is a member of.

Once apostilled, the marriage certificate can then be presented to Home Affairs in South Africa or a mission outside the country for registration, subject to any other documents required e.g ID.

Had it not been for this convention, one would need to notarise the documents in every country they intend to use the documents added to having notarised it in their home country, which can be inconvenient and sometimes costly if mistakenly overlooked.

Registration of Foreign Marriage in South Africa

Proof of marriage by way of producing a valid and legally effective marriage certificate becomes important in situations such as;

  1. Divorce;
  2. Spousal maintenance;
  • Antenuptial contract disputes;
  1. Intestate inheritance;
  2. Child custody litigation;
  3. The annulment of subsequent marriages when another marriage exists.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated – Marriage Lawyers Cape Town and Johannesburg

While the conclusion of a marriage is an episode of joy, bliss and excitement, it is important to seek guidance to ensure that all the processes and requirements are adhered to which will ensure the validity of the marriage in the jurisdictions in which the spouses choose to settle and enjoy life together. We stand ready to comprehensively assist in that regard as well as numerous other areas of law. Please feel free to contact us for more information.


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