Marriage in Court or Home Affairs

Getting Married in Court in South Africa

Until approximately 2002, it was possible to get married in court by a Magistrate. However, this is no longer the case. The responsibility for conducting marriages was transferred to the Department of Home Affairs. Each office within the department has at least one designated Marriage Officer, who is typically not primarily responsible for conducting marriages.

The Process of Getting Married at Home Affairs

Keep in mind that the process for getting married at a Home Affairs office may vary slightly from one office to another. However, the general process is as follows:

  1. Both parties must be at least 18 years old. If one of the parties is under the age of 18, they will need the consent of their parents or guardians.
  2. You or your partner will need to visit your local Home Affairs office with your original IDs and copies.
  3. Both parties must complete and sign a Notice of Intention to Marry form, which is available from the office of the Department of Home Affairs or a local Home Affairs office.
  4. Both parties must also complete and sign an affidavit stating that there are no legal impediments to the marriage.
  5. You will need to pay a fee for the Notice of Intention to Marry form and the affidavit.
  6. The office will check their schedule and inform you of the next available date and time for the marriage ceremony.
  7. On the scheduled date, you and your partner must arrive at the office with your IDs and two witnesses, who must also bring their IDs and copies. You may bring additional people with you, but space is usually limited and you may be sharing the space with other couples who are also getting married on the same day.
  8. The Marriage Officer will check your IDs and the IDs of your witnesses, fill out the marriage register, take your left thumbprint, and ask you and your partner two questions (the "marriage formula").
  9. The register will be signed by you, your partner, your two witnesses, and the Marriage Officer.
  10. You will be issued a manual Marriage Certificate, which is an A5-sized certificate with your details handwritten on it.

The entire process, excluding any wait time, typically takes about 15 minutes.

It's worth noting that the process for getting married in court in South Africa may vary slightly depending on the specific requirements of the individual court. It's a good idea to check with the court where you plan to get married to confirm the specific requirements and procedures.

What documents do I need to bring with me to get married?

You will need to bring your original IDs and copies, as well as the IDs and copies of your witnesses.

Do I need to make an appointment to get married at a Home Affairs office?

It is generally recommended to make an appointment to get married at a Home Affairs office, as the office will be able to check their schedule and advise you of the next available date and time for the marriage ceremony.

Can I bring additional people with me to the marriage ceremony?

You may bring additional people with you to the ceremony, but space is usually limited and you may be sharing the space with other couples who are also getting married on the same day.

How long does the marriage ceremony take?

The marriage ceremony itself typically takes about 15 minutes, excluding any wait time.

What is the "marriage formula"?

The "marriage formula" refers to the two questions that the Marriage Officer will ask you and your partner during the marriage ceremony. These questions are designed to confirm that you are both entering into the marriage willingly and without any legal impediments.

What do I need to do after the marriage ceremony?

After the ceremony, the Marriage Officer will issue you with a marriage certificate. It is important to keep this certificate in a safe place, as you may need it for various legal purposes in the future.

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