Marrying as a Foreigner in South Africa

To get married in South Africa as a foreigner (and to a South African), there are certain legalities that must take place before a marriage officer can officially marry you and register this marriage with the Department of Home Affairs.

Besides being legally in the country (a visitors visa obtained at the airport is enough), a letter of non-impediment needs to be obtained from your country of citizenship or embassy/consulate in South Africa. This letter states that you are not married in your country of citizenship, and thus, are able to marry in South Africa. If this document is not in English then it must be accompanied by an official sworn translation. It is important to plan for the letter of non-impediment in advance as it is more difficult to obtain in some countries, such as Germany, where it can take 6 weeks! Other countries, such as the United Kingdom, do not give letters of non-impediment and thus a letter stating this is necessary.

Once the foreign party has their letter of non-impediment,  the couple who intend on marrying must make an appointment with the Department of Home Affairs regional office and apply for a marriage interview. Depending on which regional office and the time of the year, it can take an estimated 3 weeks to obtain this interview date. At this interview, the couple is split-up and asked various questions about their relationship and documents such as letters of non-impediment are taken-in for consideration.

Once the marriage interview is done and all papers verified, the couple will receive a written letter from the Department to give to their marriage officer. This legally allows the marriage officer to sign off on the official wedding papers and log necessary documents with the Department of Home Affairs to register the wedding. This means that you will be able to get an official abridged marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs shortly after your marriage ceremony.

If you have any questions regarding getting married in South Africa, contact us and let us advise you on your particular situation.