Over the past few months we have been getting into the not so glam or fun side of getting married and shared information on ‘What documents you need to make your marriage legal’ and ‘What documents foreigners’ need to get married in SA with you on our Blog.

Nigel had a few more Frequently Asked Questions so he put together this list of common questions with some helpful answers for us.

I can’t find my divorce certificate, can I still get married?

The short answer is yes. We can draw up an affidavit for you to sign before you marry.
This is if home affairs have your marital status recorded correctly.

How do I know if home affairs have my marital status recorded correctly?

Check your marital status. This can be verified by visiting this link or you can send an sms* with the letter M, a space and your ID number to 32551 or call the call centre at 0800 60 11 90.

* (R1 per sms and will be charged by your network service provider)

My Marital Status is incorrect on the home affairs system – what should I do?

Home affairs will not register your marriage if your status reflects as “married” on the system.
It is advisable that you take your Divorce Certificate or your late spouse’s Death Certificate to home affairs to ask that they correct the status detail on the Population Registry.
This sometimes takes 3 or more months to amend.
You might want to employ the services of a Q4U type organization to manage the process for you to save some precious time.

When do we get our marriage certificate?

You will receive your official issue Abridged Marriage Certificate (DHA – 27) on your wedding day. This is a hand written document issued by your Marriage Officer/Celebrant.

What is an Unabridged Marriage Certificate?

This is the most formal and complete form of Marriage Certificate – issued by any Home Affairs office.

All couples who intend to register their marriage internationally or prove the detail of their marriage for legal purposes internationally, will require this Unabridged Marriage Certificate.

How do I get an unabridged marriage certificate?

Apply at any Home Affairs office. (You will require a copy of your Registry Document from your Marriage Officer/Celebrant.)  

The expected waiting time is 3-6 months.

 How long does it take to register a marriage?

Normally within 2 weeks of your marriage the process will be completed by the registration of your marriage onto the Population Registry.

Any discrepancy – or documentation difficulty might delay the process.  Your Marriage Officer/Celebrant will probably be in touch with you to rectify the issue.

We are foreigners. How long do we have to be in SA before we can marry?

There is no waiting period.
You may marry on the day you arrive in South Africa.

What is the regulation regarding the wife’s surname detail?

One of the following options are available to you:
Keep your current surname;
Join your current surname with your new husband’s surname (double-barrel surname)
Assume your husband’s surname

How do you change your surname? (Option only available to the wife of the couple.)

The surname that you would like to assume will be recorded on the marriage register.
Home Affairs will capture the stipulated detail when your marriage is registered.

What about a new ID book or passport?

A week or two after the wedding you may apply to Home Affairs for a new ID book or passport reflecting your new surname. This is also a good time to apply for the new South African smart ID’s.

Is there any other legal preparation needed to register my marriage?

Your marriage is a legal contract with a financial component to it.

The financial aspect has a few possible approaches for you to consider

  1. Community of property
    If you choose not to draw up a financial agreement in South Africa then you will automatically be married ‘in community of property’. The state assumes that all assets and liabilities of both husband and wife are shared. It simply means that everything which is his is hers and everything which is hers is his. There are advantages and disadvantages to not drawing up a contract:


If one of you gets into financial trouble, creditors have a claim against both of you.

There is also no financial independence; if the wife wants to open a clothing account, the husband has to sign the account application; if the husband wants to buy a car, the wife has to sign too. Every business transaction requires the consent of both parties.

If one partner should die, the estate of both the deceased and surviving partner will be wound up because it is a joint estate – not great for the surviving partner who will find themselves in legal limbo for a while.


On death or divorce, the estate is divided equally.

  1. Ante-nuptial contract

An ante-nuptial contract or ANC means that you are married out of community of property. The law recognizes you as two separate entities.

There are two types of ANC contracts:

Ante-nuptial (ANC) contract without accrual.
Ante-nuptial contract with accrual.

ANC without accrual.
Assets acquired before or during the marriage remain separate throughout the course of the marriage. Assets are not shared and each partner has a separate estate.

if one of you goes insolvent, creditors may not attach the assets of the other; in other words, you get to keep your home folks.

Each of you are legally obliged to offer financial support to one another should one of you be unable to support himself/herself


in the case of death or divorce, you are entitled only to those assets you have accrued in your name. Should one of you choose to stay at home to raise children, that partner would not be entitled to the assets accumulated by the other partner.

ANC with accrual

Each partner states the value of their respective assets at the beginning of marriage. Thereafter any assets are shared 50/50. One can state that specific assets be excluded from the accrual, such an inheritances, donations etc.
Most marriages (9 out of 10) are ANC with accrual … this is really the way to go!


You both share in the wealth accumulated during marriage.

If each of you owned property before the marriage, it remains in your respective names.

You each conduct your own independent financial affairs.

If one of you goes into debt, it cannot be claimed from the estate of the other.

In the case of divorce, any assets made whilst married are shared – it doesn’t matter who acquired them; each partner’s current net asset value is calculated by subtracting all liabilities from assets.

The ANC can be tailored to suit your needs.

It protects the partner who remains at home to care for the family.

Did you find this information useful, or know someone who could benefit from it? Then please share it or send it to them via our sharing buttons below.

Much love

Nigel & 





Also, just a little note here. These tips, answers and suggestions are done to the best of our knowledge. Nigel and I aren’t lawyers and laws and rules are continuously changing. PLEASE do your own homework and check with your lawyer and officiant before making any final decisions or plans around the registration of your marriage…. You are smart, I know you know this!

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