Getting married to a foreign national in South Africa, whether in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban or Cape town, has certain legalities. Any bi-national couple must adhere to these before a marriage officer can officially marry them and register the marriage with the Department of Home Affairs. Marriage in South Africa is a legally binding contract. The South African Marriage Act of 1961 and the Civil Union Act of 2006 govern marriages in the country. The governing acts outline steps that couples have to take throughout the marriage process. Failure to comply with the regulations, will result in the marriage not being celebrated. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has set out a list of documents required to marry a foreigner in South Africa that have to be submitted in order for the matrimonial ceremony to take place.
Premarital planning and checklist.
The process of getting married needs proper planning, as extemporaneous marriage plans will result in a delay. In order to avoid the long dragging process the couples should consider going through the following process step by step in consideration of great results out of both the marriage process and satisfactory marriage status:
- Check your marital status.
- Obtain a letter of no impediment.
- Get married.
- Register your marriage with the Department of Home Affairs.
- Obtain an unabridged marriage certificate.
- Check Your Marital Status.
South African marital status and letter of no impediment.
A Letter of No Impediment is a document that confirms that the foreign national is not married and nothing prevents him/her from getting married. The foreign national must be able to provide a Letter of non-impediment, which is a documentation that affirms the individual’s marital status. It is one of the documents required to marry a foreigner in South Africa. It is also advisable that South African nationals check their marital status at the Department of Home Affairs, before all else. There has evidently been numerous fraud cases of South Africans being married off to foreign nationals they have never met or come across.
In this instance, individuals who were previously married and are now divorced, could be required to provide a copy of divorce decree certificate. Countries which are part of the Hague Convention will request that the letter of no Impediment be apostilled. Whereas, some countries may even request that the document be translated, depending on the document’s language.
Procedure to be followed by South Africans in order to marry a foreigner.
Before the exact marriage stage the South African individual and the foreign national will have to go through the checklist of the requirements that are outlined by the Department of Home Affairs. The requirements state that the following persons cannot get married in South Africa:
- Persons that are already married
- Minors who are under the age of 18, unless if they provide consent from their guardian, parents or court.
- Persons suffering from mental illness
If the couple meet the requirements outlined by the Department of Home Affairs, the couple can register to apply for marriage and marriage certificate. The couple has to apply for the certificate by sending their marriage certificate application to the Department of Home Affairs. The application will be submitted with the crucial documents that follow:
Documents required to marry a foreigner in South Africa
The couple must present the following documents to the marriage officer who will be officiating the marriage.
- As part of documents required to marry a foreigner in South Africa, the couple should present their Identity documents.
- The foreign national and the South African citizen, should both present their valid passports.
- A completed BI-31 Form that clearly states that they may legally get married.
- If any of the persons getting married are divorced, then the final decree of divorce should be presented.
- If any of the persons getting married are widowed, a death certificate of the deceased spouse should be presented to the DHA.
- Passport sized photos of the couple.
- The foreign national’s proof of visa or residency permit.
- A Letter of No Impediment.
Premarital interview is a mandatory step for couples whom one of them is a foreign national. An immigration officer will conduct a brief interview with the couple at the Department of Home Affairs. The interview takes place in order to ensure that the couple is not getting married for any other reason than love and that the marriage not a marriage of convenience. It can take up to three weeks for the couple to obtain the interview date. The couple will be interviewed separately and asked a series of questions relating to the relationship. All documents required to marry a foreigner in South Africa will also be taken into consideration.
In sum, premarital interview procedure helps prevent foreign nationals from obtaining South African residency through marriage of convenience. After a successful interview the couple will receive a letter from the Department of Home Affairs, that grants the marriage officer authority to sign off the couple’s marriage papers. The letter will also be used the log that the DHA need to register the marriage.
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