Marriage Registration - Registering a marriage abroad in South Africa

Are you a South African getting married abroad and wondering what the marriage registration process in South Africa is?

Usually registration processes are complicated and time consuming, however, to register a foreign marriage in South Africa is fairly straight forward; as long as you have with you all the necessary documents.
For a South African citizen who got married abroad, there is no formal application to register such marriage.

However, its required that the marriage be declared at the Department of Home Affairs. This is so that the marital status of the South African citizen as well as the surname, if it has been changed, may be updated on the National Population Register.

Documents required for foreign marriage registration

As with any legal process, the registration of marriages in South Africa requires certain documentation. These documents must be handed to the consular in person during office hours:

  • A certified copy of the applicant’s biometric data or photograph in their South African ID book or passport. It’s also required that the original identification document be presented to the consular
  • A certified copy of the applicant’s spouse’s biometric data or photograph in their ID book/card or passport. It’s also required that the original identification document be presented to the consular
  • A certified copy of the original foreign marriage certificate along with an English translation by an official translator, if the certificate is not in English
  • A letter of request from the applicant for the registration of the marriage abroad on the National Population Register. This letter must include the applicant’s:
    • Residential address
    • Contact number
    • Email address

Registration of marriages in South Africa

Because there is no application fee required for the marriage registration with the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), there will be no certificate issued.
However, applicants may validate their marital status on the DHA’s website to make sure that it has been updated and is correct. Applicants may also contact the Client Service Centre to enquire about their marital status.

Any person whose surname has changed may apply for a tourist passport or identification document which will reflect the married surname.

Are foreign marriages recognised in South Africa?

Female South African citizens who have changed their surnames after marriage are able to apply for a tourist passport or identity document which will reflect her new married surname.

However, current legislation stipulates that without having to formally apply for the change of surname, female applicants may choose to use either:

•    Their married surname
•    Their maiden surname
•    A double-barrel surname combining both married and maiden surnames
•    Any other surname had at any time prior to her current marriage

Any male South African citizen who has chosen to change his surname after marriage must make a formal application for the change of surname.

Van Deventer & Van Deventer Incorporated – Attorneys in Cape Town and Johannesburg

Our attorneys are able to assist with the marriage registration in South Africa of marriages abroad. Contact us for professional legal advice.