Marrying a foreigner in South Africa isn’t all that complicated especially if you have all the correct documents and follow the proper procedures then everything should go as planned. It can only pose difficulty if your documentation isn’t in order.
Marriage in South Africa is seen as legally binding and governed by the marriage act of 1961, and the Civil Union Act of 2006. South Africa also recognises customary marriages through the Recognition of Customary Marriage Act of 2000. All of these Acts detail and outline procedures on how weddings are to take place. The Acts also list documents needed for a marriage to a foreigner in South Africa, which are listed below.
Documents needed to marry a foreigner in South Africa
The following documents must be presented to the officiating officer on the day of the marriage:
- Both individuals should submit their identity documents.
- Valid passports of both parties, with passport-sized photos included.
- A completed BI-31 Form, which includes the Letter of No Impediment and Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage.
- If the wedding is for a minor (someone under the age of 18), the DHA-32 form should be signed by both parents/legal guardians of the minor, or the Commissioner of Child Welfare, or the court. The Minister of Home Affairs must additionally provide formal approval if the minors getting married are under the age of 18 for boys or 15 for girls.
- If either of the two individuals have been married before and are now divorced, they need to provide a final decree of divorce.
- If widowed they need to provide the death certificate of their deceased spouse.
- Residency permit of the foreign national.
- The foreigner can also get into South Africa using their 90 days visitor visa, with the intention of marrying within 90 days.
Verifying your marital status
Before getting married you must ensure that:
- You are legally allowed to marry.
- You are familiar with the legal consequences of marriage, especially in South Africa. This is because marriages in South Africa are automatically entered in Community of Property, unless stated otherwise, through a pre-nuptial contract.
- You follow all the legal prerequisites for a valid marriage are adhered to.
- Also, one cannot get married to an individual who has a severe mental disorder. This is of the belief that the person cannot make sound decisions and to avoid a situation where they might be taken advantage of.
Another important factor is to make sure that you verify your marital status. The Department of Home Affairs has created a facility where South Africans can check their marital status. This is due to the many fraudulent marriages that have been reported to the Department. To use this facility you can either go to Home Affairs with your Identity Document (ID) or sms the letter M and your ID number to the following number 32551. Foreigners marrying into South Africa have to provide a letter of no impediment before getting married in South Africa. This is to show that the individual is free to get married or that they have nothing stopping them from getting married.
If you are a foreign national it is a prerequisite that you do a premarital Interview. This is to ensure that this is not a marriage of convenience, that you are getting into marriage for the right reasons and that the two parties are getting married because they love each other. It takes about three weeks to finalise the interview date. Therefore the couple should schedule the interview on time, as the interview should be conducted at least two days before the wedding takes place.
During the interview, the couple is separated and they are each asked a set of questions pertaining to their relationship. This is to ensure that this is not a marriage of convenience done to gain residency in South Africa. During the interview, all the documents needed to marry a foreigner in South Africa will also be considered. If the interview is successful, the Department of Home Affairs will issue the couple with a letter. This letter gives the marriage officer permission to sign off their marriage documents. The letter also serves as the log required by the DHA to register the marriage.
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