Legal Requirements

 Your wedding day is a happy occasion and the emphasis is on celebrating your marriage.
However, marriage is also a legal process and there are strict requirements that must be fulfilled before the marriage officer can proceed with your wedding. It is worth taking time to ensure you have fulfilled all the requirements and submitted all the documentation well beforehand as the marriage officer cannot proceed without them (which means your planned ceremony and celebrations cannot take place).
You must provide the following to your Marriage Officer BEFORE the start of the wedding ceremony:

Check your Marital StatusREQUIRED DOCUMENTS

South African Citizens

  • A copy of your ID document
  • If previously married, a copy of the relevant divorce/death certificate ending the previous marriage (If you have been previously married, please check the Department of Home Affairs website to ensure they have your correct marriage status recorded. If not, you will need to correct that with them before the wedding).
  • 3 ID sized photos of each of you for the marriage register
  • A letter from your attorney stating that you have entered into an ante-nuptial contract should you wish to have one
  • Copies of the ID documents of the two witnesses who will witness and sign the marriage register (foreign nationals must provide a copy of their passports)
Foreign Nationals
IMPORTANT NOTICE: When Foreign Nationals marry a South African citizen, the couple are required to attend an interview with an Immigration Officer at the Department of Home Affairs to obtain clearance for the marriage. This is to prevent “marriages of convenience” to gain citizenship. The interview can only take place a few days before the wedding, but an appointment must be made.
In Durban the address for this interview is:

Price City 
350 Umgeni Road
Tel: 031 308 7900/32  

Booking and attending the interview is your responsibility and cannot be done by the marriage officer. It is suggested you arrive in South Africa at least a week before you wedding to ensure this interview is completed in time.

The interviewing officer will not hand the clearance document to you, this will be collected by your marriage officer before your wedding.

Foreign Nationals need the following documents to present to your marriage officer:

  • A copy of your Passport
  • A letter of Non-Impediment from your home country which states there is no reason for you not to get married (not required for British Citizens who instead must supply at sworn statement stating there is no reason for them not to marry).
  • An affidavit (which will be supplied by the marriage officer) stating you do not have a South African Identity number.
  • 3 ID sized photos of each of you for the marriage register


The solemnisation and registration of civil marriages, customary marriages and civil unions are managed by the Department of Home Affairs. Civil marriages are governed by the Marriage Act and regulations issued in terms of the Act. South Africa also recognizes customary marriages through the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, which became effective in November 2000. Civil unions are recognised in terms of the Civil Union Act (2006).

If you are planning on getting married, you must:

  • ensure that you are legally allowed to marry
  • understand the legal consequences of a marriage, particularly that marriages in South Africa are automatically in community of property, unless a valid ante-nuptial contract has been entered into before the marriage, and
  • make sure that your marriage will comply with all the legal requirements for a valid marriage

Should you be unsure of any of these, legal counsel should be sought before the marriage is entered into.

Marriage certificates

Two witnesses and the marriage officer must sign the marriage register after the solemnisation of a marriage. Then the marriage officer must issue the parties with a handwritten marriage certificate (BI-27) free of charge.

The marriage officer must then submit the marriage register to the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs, where the marriage details will be recorded in the National Population Register (NPR).

Any additional abridged copies or unabridged copies of the marriage certificate can be requested by:

  • Completing Form BI-130 in black ink and submitting it to the nearest office of the Department of Home Affairs or to the nearest South African embassy, mission or consulate abroad
  • Paying the prescribed fee

The first issue of an abridged marriage certificate is free, and a re-issue is R20.00

In addition to abridged or unabridged copies of a marriage certificate, you may also request the following documents after completing Form BI-130 and paying the prescribed fees:

  • A vault copy of the register
  • An abridged marriage certificate that is either computer printed or handwritten

Prohibited Marriages

The law states that certain categories of people may not marry. These include:

  • Minors, unless the prescribed consent to the marriage has been given
  • People who are already married. bigamy is a punishable offence in South Africa. Such marriages are also null and void under South African law
  • In the columns below, a man may not marry any person mentioned in column 1; and a woman may not marry any person mentioned in column 2:
1 2
Father’s mother
Mother’s mother
Son’s daughter
Daughter’s daughter
Wife’s mother
Wife’s daughter
Father’s wife
Son’s wife
Father’s father’s wife
Mother’s father’s wife
Wife’s father’s mother
Wife’s mother’s mother
Wife’s son’s daughter
Wife’s daughter’s daughter
Son’s son’s wife
Daughter’s son’s wife
Father’s sister
Mother’s sister
Brother’s daughter
Brother’s daughter’s daughter
Sister’s daughter
Sister’s daughter’s daughter
Sister’s son’s daughter
Father’s father
Mother’s father
Son’s son
Daughter’s son
Husband’s father
Husband’s son
Mother’s husband
Daughter’s husband
Father’s mother’s husband
Mother’s mother’s husband
Husband’s father’s father
Husband’s mother’s father
Husband’s son’s son
Husband’s daughter’s son
Son’s daughter’s husband
Daughter’s daughter’s husband
Father’s brother
Mother’s brother
Brother’s son
Brother’s son’s son
Sister’s son
Sister’s son’s son
Sister’s daughter’s son

Consent to the marriage of a minor

If you are or your partner is a minor (younger than 18 years) in the care of either your respective parents or a legal guardian, only the parents’/guardian’s written consent (Form DHA-32) is necessary for you to obtain a marriage certificate.

If a parent whose consent is legally required but either cannot be found to grant consent, or is legally incompetent to do so, then an application may be made to a Commissioner of Child Welfare for consent to the marriage.

If your parents and/or a Commissioner of Child Welfare refuse to grant consent for your marriage, you may then apply to a judge of the High Court for consent. The judge will not grant consent unless there is sufficient evidence that the marriage is in the interest of the minor and that prior consent has been unreasonably refused.

In addition to getting consent from the parents or guardian, boys under the age of 18 and girls under the age of 16 may also be required to seek the consent of the Minister of Home Affairs. The Minister may, on application, condone a marriage which required his/her consent but was contracted without such consent.