In South Africa, there are only three types of marriages that are recognised by the law. Those are civil marriages, customary marriages, and civil unions.
Whichever marriage you are going to register under, there is a protocol to follow and there are specific documents and forms to submit to the Department of Home Affairs.
When you enter into a civil marriage or civil union, the marriage officer will issue a handwritten marriage certificate free of charge at the ceremony, but you will have to apply for a copy of the marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs. Your first abridged marriage certificate is free.
After your wedding, it is advised that you report within two to three days of the marriage taking place but with customary law, you can take up to three months to have it legally registered.
You must go to your local marriage officer with all the necessary documents and ensure that they are certified.
What do you need?
– Fingerprints (left thumbprint) of the bride and groom
-Three ID size photos (preferably in colour) of the bride
-Three ID size photos (preferably in colour) of the groom
-Certified copy of the bride’s green ID or Passport
-Certified copy of the groom’s green ID or Passport
-Certified copy of the ID with the address and telephone number of the TWO witnesses
-Proof of residence
– Purchase a small stamp pad for the purpose like those used in Trodat stamp pads
-Keep tissues handy (to wipe fingers, not tears!)
-Take fingerprints and collect all documentation at the wedding rehearsal and NOT on the wedding day
– Make sure that you have all the necessary paperwork, photos, and fingerprints before the wedding commences
– Go change the names on passport and ID documents as soon as possible
-It is convenient to have the last will and testament and all other legal matters concluded at the time of the marriage.