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Marriages in South Africa

How much do you know about the types of marriages in South Africa?

 

Three types of marriages are recognised under South African law: civil marriages, customary marriages and civil unions.

The solemnisation and registration of these marriages are managed by 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. You can apply for a copy of the marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs if you have been married in South Africa and your marriage is registered.

The first issue of an abridged marriage certificate is free, but you will have to pay for a second issue or an unabridged certificate. Where one partner has passed away and you need to prove that you had been married, an unabridged marriage certificate will be issued.

The definition of a customary marriage is one that is “negotiated, celebrated or concluded according to any of the systems of indigenous African customary law which exist in South Africa”.

You must register your customary marriage within three months of the date of celebration or entering into the marriage to make it legal. This can be done at any office of the Department of Home Affairs or through a designated traditional leader in areas where there are no Home Affairs offices.