Don’t get caught out: Documents you need if you are a South African marrying overseas. Image: Adobe Stock

Don’t get caught out: Documents you need if you are a South African marrying overseas

South Africans planning to get married abroad must ensure they cover all legal bases before marrying a foreigner outside of South Africa.


Don’t get caught out: Documents you need if you are a South African marrying overseas. Image: Adobe Stock

Getting married in South Africa isn’t such a complicated process. However, if you’re marrying a foreigner outside of South Africa, there is quite a bit of admin to sort out, and you’ll need to ensure you’ve got all your supporting documents ready for the bid day!

South Africans that plan to get married abroad must work hard to ensure they’re covered on all legal bases before marrying a foreigner outside of South Africa. Although the process is easy enough to understand, it’s still vital to be as prepared as possible to avoid the risk of not being allowed to legally get married abroad.

Here’s what you need to know!

Q: What is the first thing South Africans need to do when planning to get married abroad?

A: Always start by checking your marital status!

South Africans can either be registered as single, married, divorced, widowed, or deceased with the South African Department of Home Affairs. Since many South Africans have fallen prey to fraudulent marriages as a hoax to help foreigners get into SA unnoticed, we strongly suggest double-checking your status with the DHA before you take any additional steps to get married outside of South Africa.

Q: After they verify their single status, what important documents should they apply for?

A: The Letter of No Impediment, and if they were previously married, they also need a  copy of their Decree of Divorce.

In order to legally get marrier abroad, the country you’re getting married in needs to know that you aren’t already married. You’ll need to prove this for every country in which you hold legal citizenship. This means that if you have dual citizenship in South Africa and the U.K, you’ll need to supply a Letter of No Impediment from both countries.

The Letter of No Impediment is issued by the Department of Home Affairs and, once issued, states that the applicant is free to marry and that nothing impedes them from getting married. Some countries refer to this document as a Declaration of Single Status of Certificate of No Impediment. In the event that you were previously married, you will have to submit your Letter of No Impediment along with a Decree of Divorce in order to prove that you are, in fact, not married anymore and have the freedom to marry again.

ALSO READ: Divorce Decrees: What they are and how one obtains them

Q: Are there any other important documents South Africans need to get married abroad?

A: An unabridged birth certificate will almost always be required by foreign authorities.

The unabridged birth certificate contains information about a person’s biological parents or legal guardians. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) is renowned for taking anywhere between three and six months to issue a birth certificate, and this can cause timely delays and frustration to the mix. We advise South Africans to apply for documents like birth certificates long before they actually need them, as these documents aren’t issued with specific validity periods. 

Q: Once they tie the knot abroad, how will they get their marriage certificate?

A: After the ceremony, your marriage needs to be registered with the Department of Home Affairs before you can apply for an unabridged marriage certificate. 

In addition to the abridged marriage certificate or copies thereof, newly married couples may also apply to obtain a copy of their unabridged marriage certificate by completing Form BI-130 in black ink and submitting it to the nearest DHA office or South African embassy, mission, or consulate abroad.

Unabridged marriage certificates are issued to non-South African couples, couples where one partner is not a South African citizen, and couples that reside outside of South Africa. Couples who plan to reside outside of South Africa for an extended time after getting married will also need to apply for the unabridged version of the marriage certificate since the abridged version cannot be used for legal applications outside of South African borders.

The documents mentioned in this post are crucial for South Africans to legally get married abroad, but they can often take months to obtain, which adds unnecessary stress and frustration to the happy event of getting married. 

If you need help with obtaining any of these documents, get in touch with today, a documentation assistance service that does the cueing for you and can help you obtain your documents in record time!