How do people get married in Africa

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Getting married in South Africa

The South African marriage requirements are set out in the Marriage Act, No. 25 of 1961 regulated. Marriages are permitted by licensed registrars (often these are church offices) or in the local Department of Home Affairs.

The couple and two witnesses must be present. The marriage partners, the witnesses and the registrar must confirm the marriage by signature on site after the marriage, whereupon the registrar issues an abridged marriage certificate to the couple.

The registrar will then direct the registration of the marriage to the Ministry of the Interior. Only then does the Ministry of the Interior provide one Complete marriage certificate recognized in the German legal system ("unabridged marriage certificate") out. Experience has shown that a longer processing time must be expected. Tourists getting married in South Africa, in particular, are increasingly reporting difficulties in obtaining an unabridged marriage certificate.

When entering into a marriage, the couple must generally present the following documents to the registrar:

  • South African nationals: their identity card (ID book)
  • Foreigners: their passport
  • Both witnesses: ID book or passport
  • German citizens: one issued by the registry office of your (last) domestic place of residence Certificate of marital status, provided with a German apostille.
    German diplomatic missions abroad cannot confirm their single status. The only confirmation of marriage abroad that is provided for under German law is the certificate of marriageability issued by the registry office.
  • Divorced: the divorce decree
  • Widowed: the death certificate of the different spouses

You can obtain detailed and binding information on getting married in South Africa from the Department of Home Affairs at Information from the South African embassy in Berlin can be found at

Application for a certificate of marital status

If you, as a German citizen, intend to marry before a South African registry office, you will need a German certificate of no-nonsense, which will be issued by the responsible German registry office at your (last) place of residence. The authentication of the signature and the authentication of copies required for the application can be carried out at the diplomatic mission abroad. We advise yourself With to contact the responsible registry office in Germany in order to receive binding information on the documents to be submitted and to apply for the certificate of marital status with apostille.

  • Birth certificates of the fiancee
  • Proof of the citizenship of the engaged couple (e.g. passport copies); if one of the parties involved has not had citizenship since birth, a certified copy of the relevant certificate of citizenship should be attached.
  • if a fiancé has already been married or in a partnership: marriage certificate or civil partnership documents of all marriages or previous civil partnerships and proof of dissolution of all marriages or civil partnerships (e.g. death certificates or divorce judgments or judgment on the dissolution of the civil partnership with legal notice, if necessary notification of recognition of the state justice administration)
  • De-registration certificate for the last German place of residence or registration certificate if a spouse is still registered in the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Single certificate of the foreign fiancé
  • Application form

Please note that all foreign documents must be provided with an apostille and a German translation.

The fees for the issuance of the certificate of non-marriage are between 45 and 100 €, depending on the federal state.

Attention: German diplomatic missions abroad cannot confirm your single status. The only type of confirmation that you are single that is permitted under German law is the certificate of marital status.

The diplomatic missions abroad reserve the right not to answer any more questions related to confirmation of single status, confirmation of a registration certificate or verification of a certificate of marital status without an apostille.

Registration of a marriage in Germany

Did you get married in South Africa? A marriage effectively concluded abroad is generally also valid in Germany. Registration at the registry office is voluntary. However, many things can be easier with a German marriage certificate, especially when returning to Germany.

The following applies to the application:

  • If the application for entry in the marriage register is also accompanied by a name declaration, both spouses must go to the diplomatic mission abroad.
  • Bring all of the documents listed below in the Original plus two simple copies With. The copies will be certified for you at the diplomatic mission, the originals will be returned to you directly.
  • All South African documents must be unabridged or full.
  • Documents that are not in German or English must be accompanied by a certified German translation be provided; however, the registry office can also request translations of English-language documents in individual cases.
  • We point out, that many registry offices only accept South African documents with an apostille. In order to avoid subsequent requests and delays, we therefore recommend that you submit documents with an apostille now.
  • You can find information on data protection law in relation to the processing of your personal data here.
  • fully completed application form
  • Proof of identity of both spouses (passport / ID book)
  • South African unabridged marriage certificate ("unabridged marriage certificate" or "full marriage certificate")
  • Proof of the citizenship of both spouses (e.g. passports, citizenship certificates, naturalization certificates)
  • Birth certificates of both spouses
    South African: "unabridged birth certificate"
    If one or both spouses were born in Germany, an “extract from the birth register with information sheet” should be submitted. This can be requested from the registry office.
  • if applicable, proof of naming in the marriage
  • If there were previous marriages: divorce decree or death certificate of the previous spouse
  • Fee for the certification of the signatures and copies

In individual cases, additional certificates may also be required.

The diplomatic mission abroad will forward your application to the registry office responsible in Germany. If one of the spouses has or had a place of residence in Germany, the registry office at the current or last place of residence is also responsible for the entry in the marriage register. If there was never a registration in Germany, the application will be forwarded to the registry office 1 Berlin. Unfortunately, the processing time of the registry office 1 Berlin is currently up to 3 years.

The The competent registry office continues to charge a fee for entry in the marriage register and the issuance of German marriage certificates. These fees are subject to national law and are usually between € 80 and € 125.

Matrimonial property regime

Important: Think about the matrimonial regime you have in your marriage and make a choice of law if necessary. More about it here