Should you formally emigrate from South Africa and how to do it. Image credit: AdobeStock
Should you formally emigrate from South Africa and how to do it. Image credit: AdobeStock
Countless hours of planning and admin are required to ensure a successful move, and part of the process is ensuring that you have all the vital documents you’ll need to settle overseas when emigrating.
Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at the kind of documents you’ll need to move out of South Africa and how you can get copies of them if you don’t have them on hand! We asked Apostil.co.za to give us the details on what is mostly required.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS SOUTH AFRICANS NEED WHEN EMIGRATING?
There are five primary documents that almost everyone will need to emigrate from South Africa, depending slightly on whether they are over 18 and/or married. Aside from your passport (depending on where you are travelling), you’ll also need the following:
Most of these documents vary in the time it takes to obtain them, so it’s best to plan very carefully and add one or two months leeway into the plan.
WHAT DOCUMENTS TAKE THE LONGEST TO OBTAIN IF I DON’T HAVE A COPY OF MINE?
Unabridged birth certificates and marriage certificates Anyone born after 2014 automatically got issued with unabridged birth certificates, but it’s highly unlikely that the main emigration applicants are eight years old, so this is something most adult South Africans need to travel outside of the republic. Unabridged birth certificates will be required for each member of your family travelling outside of South Africa. These official documents contain information about a person’s biological parents or legal guardians. Married couples also need to submit a copy of their unabridged marriage certificate to prove that they are legally married. In some instances, unabridged marriage certificates are referred to as “long-form marriage certificates” or “full marriage certificates.” The Department of Home Affairs is renowned for taking anywhere between three and six months for issuing a birth certificate and copies of unabridged marriage certificates, but document assistance services – like Apostil.co.za – can help you obtain yours in as little as three weeks if your records are easily accessible.
WHY DO I NEED TO SUBMIT A POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE?
Authorities abroad must ensure that you are of sound character before you can emigrate, and the PCC verifies this. Everyone over the age of 18 must submit a valid SAPS Police Clearance Certificate when emigrating from South Africa. This certificate is issued after a background check has been done to verify an individual’s criminal records if there are any. If a person does not have a criminal record, you still need to obtain the certificate to state the fact that you have never had a criminal record in South Africa.
HOW DO I GET MY DOCUMENTS APOSTILLED OR ATTESTED?
This is done by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) or a High Court, and which process you need to follow depends on where you’re travelling. If you are travelling to a country that is part of the Hague Convention, your documents will have to be legalised for official use abroad by means of the Apostille seal. If the country you are travelling to is not a Hague Convention member, the legalisation process is a bit more tedious and must be completed by means of attestation or authentication by the high court. Both methods of legalisation make it easier for authorities abroad to verify the authenticity of South African documents.
IS THERE A SERVICE PROVIDER THAT CAN HELP ME ASSEMBLE A DOCUMENT EMIGRATION PACK?
Apostil.co.za is a document assistance firm that specialises in assisting South Africans with all their official document needs. The documents we just covered are the most crucial aspect of your travel plans and also the part of your planning that requires concerted attention and effort. The problem is that these documents all require endless cueing at Home Affairs, SAPS, or DIRCO for hours on end and then waiting for the documents to be issued, which could take months. For most South Africans that want to emigrate, time is a luxury you might not have when your travel dates or visa appointments are fast approaching. If you need help with obtaining any of these documents, get in touch with Apostil.co.za today, a documentation assistance service that does the cueing for you and can help you obtain your documents in record time!
CAN I SUBMIT A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK WHEN ASKED FOR A POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE?
UNFORTUNATELY, A CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK IS NOT THE SAME AS A SAPS POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE.
Background checks can only be used to verify if you have an existing criminal record and do not contain any details on the offence if you happen to have one.
Companies like Afiswitch generally perform background checks for purposes including recruitment and loan applications where authorities want to verify that an applicant is of sound character.
CAN I SUBMIT DIGITAL FINGERPRINTS FOR MY APPLICATION?
NO, THE SAPS CRIMINAL RECORDS CENTER ONLY ACCEPTS INK FINGERPRINTS FOR POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE APPLICATIONS.
Anyone that wants to apply for an SA police clearance certificate must start by having their fingerprints taken in ink. Although it is the norm to have your fingerprints taken at a police station, you can have them taken anywhere as long as a notary public, lawyer, or commissioner of oaths signs and stamps the set of fingerprints to verify the authenticity of the prints.
Once submitted to the CRC, your fingerprints will be converted to digital format and stored on the CRC database. Although your prints are later converted into digital format, they must be submitted in ink when applying for your police clearance, as SAPS does not accept digital fingerprints.
WHERE SHOULD I APPLY FOR MY POLICE CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE?
YOU HAVE THE OPTION OF APPLYING FOR YOUR CLEARANCE CERTIFICATE AT YOUR NEAREST POLICE STATION.
However, this is a very timely exercise as the station will only send applications off to the CRC once their application bag is full, which can take months.
The better option would be to make use of a South African concierge service like Apostil.co.za that handles everything on behalf of their clients.
Apostil.co.za is registered as a courier with the Criminal Records Center, which means that they can fast-track your application and apply for corrections if a mistake was made on the original certificate.
WILL MY PCC DISPLAY MY MAIDEN NAME?
UNLESS YOU SPECIFICALLY REQUEST IT, YOUR MAIDEN NAME WILL NOT BE DISPLAYED ON YOUR CERTIFICATE.
If you would like your maiden name to appear on your South African Police Clearance, you will have to submit a copy of your marriage certificate, indicating the name change. You also need to submit a copy of your ID or passport that displays your current surname/s. In most cases, no other document except the marriage certificate will be accepted as proof of the name change.
The certificate will then be issued with your maiden name displayed under your current surname/s. Only one maiden name can be included on police clearance certificates, you may only use your current surname/s and one old maiden name/s. Even though some countries, like Australia in particular, request that ALL previous maiden names be indicated on Police Certificates, it is not possible to have more than one maiden name listed on your South African Police Clearance.
CAN I SUBMIT MY APPLICATION DIRECTLY TO THE CRIMINAL RECORDS CENTER?
UNFORTUNATELY, CIVILIANS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SUBMIT THEIR PCC APPLICATIONS TO THE CRC PERSONALLY.
Only police stations and registered couriers can submit applications. As a registered courier, Apostil.co.za can assist you with obtaining your South African Police Clearance in between 5 and 30 working days from the date of application (excluding courier times).
They can also assist with having your documents apostilled for official use abroad.
WHAT IS AN UNABRIDGED BIRTH CERTIFICATE?
IT’S A LONG-FORM BIRTH RECORD.
These were issued upon request until April 2016, and only standard (short form) birth certificates were issued for children born before April 2016. Individuals born after April 2016 are automatically issued with an unabridged birth certificate.
WHAT IS AN UNABRIDGED MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE?
THIS MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE IS AN EXTENSION OF THE CERTIFICATE YOU GOT WHEN YOUR MARRIAGE WAS REGISTERED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HOME AFFAIRS.
Like unabridged birth certificates, unabridged marriage certificates contain more information than short-form certificates and are vital for travel.
The certificate proves that two people are legally married and have a legally binding marriage contract in place. It contains more information than the abridged marriage certificate issued when your marriage was registered with the Department of Home Affairs. These certificates offer more proof of our marriage and can be used for any legal proceeding
HOW LONG DOES HOME AFFAIRS TAKE TO ISSUE CIVIC CERTIFICATES LIKE UNABRIDGED MARRIAGE OR BIRTH CERTIFICATES?
EXPECT DELAYS IF YOU’RE APPLYING ON YOUR OWN.
Unfortunately, South Africans applying for their documents on their own outside of the country through SA embassies can wait anything between 6 and 8 months for their document to be issued. If you are based within South Africa, it can take up to two months to issue your documents.
But in most cases, time is of the essence, and you simply won’t have this much time to play with. And that is why many South Africans are turning to document concierge services like Apostil.co.za, who can have civic certificates ready for their clients in between one and six weeks, depending on which document it is and if the express process is chosen.
HOW CAN I APPLY FOR AN UNABRIDGED MARRIAGE OR BIRTH CERTIFICATE?
SOMEONE HAS TO DEAL WITH THE DHA TO SUBMIT THE APPLICATION.
The Department of Home Affairs is in charge of issuing unabridged marriage and birth certificates. Applications for these documents must be made directly with the DHA, which is an institution known for time delays. Embassies, missions, and consulates abroad can also accept applications from South Africans living abroad. However, these applications are forwarded to the DHA Head Offices in Pretoria. This is why we recommend working with a professional concierge service to get your documents expedited as soon as possible.
To apply for your certificates, you will need copies of your South African ID document, and you must complete the relevant application form.
WHERE CAN SOUTH AFRICANS FIND ASSISTANCE WITH OBTAINING THEIR CIVIC CERTIFICATES?
APOSTIL.CO.ZA TAKES CARE OF ALL YOUR DOCUMENTATION NEEDS!
South Africans that need to obtain their unabridged birth or marriage certificates in the fastest time possible can turn to Apostil.co.za to take the stress out of the equation. As a professional documentation agency in South Africa, they specialise in legalised and verified South African document assistance.
Apostil.co.za handles everything on behalf of their clients. They can assist South Africans within the country as well as those already living and working abroad. Get in touch with them today to learn more about their wide range of services and how they can help you obtain your legal documents!
WHAT ARE THE DOCUMENTS SOUTH AFRICANS WILL DEFINITELY NEED TO BE AUTHENTICATED OR APOSTILLED WHEN EMIGRATING?
Every member of your family travelling outside of South Africa will need an authenticated copy of their Birth Certificate. Anyone older than 18 must also submit a valid Police Clearance Certificate, which proves the existence or absence of a criminal record. Married couples will have to submit authenticated copies of their marriage certificates.
WHY ARE APOSTILLES OR AUTHENTICATION STAMPS SO IMPORTANT?
Apostilles and attestations (authentication) make it easy for foreign authorities to verify the authenticity and validity of your South African documents. Once a document has been apostilled or attested, it confirms that South African officials have ensured the document’s originality, validity, and authenticity. When your documents have been apostilled or attested, they can legally be used outside of South Africa.
WHERE WILL MY DOCUMENTS BE ATTESTED OR APOSTILLED?
The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) is in charge of the apostille process, but for attestations or authentications, your documents must go to the High Court. If you are travelling to a country that is part of the Hague Convention, your documents will have to be legalised for official use abroad by means of the Apostille seal.
If the country you are travelling to is not a Hague Convention member, the legalisation process is a bit more tedious. It has to be completed by means of attestation or authentication by the high court. Both methods of legalisation make it easier for authorities abroad to verify the authenticity of South African documents.
CAN MY APOSTIL OR AUTHENTICATION SEAL EXPIRE?
Although the apostil seal and attestation stamps do not expire, certain documents, like the Police Clearance Certificate, are only deemed valid for certain periods of time. These validity periods vary from one country to another.
In the event that your documents are older than what the authorities requested, it is possible to get your documents reprinted. Reprints also feature new date stamps. But this option does not always work. Reprints are a very fickle thing and should be seen as a last resort for your documentation pack.
HOW DO I APPLY TO HAVE MY DOCUMENTS ATTESTED OR APOSTILLED?
South Africans that plan on emigrating might not have the luxury of time on their side, and although you can go through the legalisation process on your own, it might take months to obtain your legalised documents from the High Court or DIRCO.
Apostil.co.za is a document assistance service provider specializing in authentications and apostilles. They work directly with DIRCO and the High Court to ensure that they can obtain authentication and apostil seals on behalf of their clients in the shortest time possible.
WHAT IS THE FIRST THING SOUTH AFRICANS NEED TO DO WHEN PLANNING TO GET MARRIED ABROAD?
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.
AFTER THEY VERIFY THEIR SINGLE STATUS, WHAT IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS SHOULD THEY APPLY FOR?
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.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS SOUTH AFRICANS NEED TO GET MARRIED ABROAD?
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.
ONCE THEY TIE THE KNOT ABROAD, HOW WILL THEY GET THEIR MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE?
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.
WHERE CAN SOUTH AFRICANS FIND ASSISTANCE WITH THEIR LEGAL DOCUMENTS IF THEY WANT TO GET MARRIED ABROAD?
APOSTIL.CO.ZA CAN TAKE CARE OF ALL THE LEGAL DOCUMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR SOUTH AFRICANS TYING THE KNOT ABROAD.
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 Apostil.co.za today, a documentation assistance service that does the cueing for you and can help you obtain your documents in record time!