In South Africa, you cannot register a death over the phone. Deaths must be reported to the Registrar of Births and Deaths by the family or a person present at the death.


In the event of a death, the following persons must be notified:

  • Department of Home Affairs officers
  • SAPS members, especially in areas without a DHA
  • Embassies or consulates of South Africa, if the death occurred overseas
  • Funeral undertakers


If a death occurs abroad, an application for a Death Certificate must be made at any Office of the Department of Home Affairs or any South African Embassy, or Consulate. Upon death registration, an abridged death certificate will be provided free of charge.


According to South African law, you have to register a death within 14 days of your loved one’s passing. After a death has been registered, a Death Report will be issued. Burials cannot take place without a burial order. As soon as the Department of Home Affairs receives the notification of death, a death certificate will be issued.


An unabridged death certificate may be required to complete processes such as settling an estate, applying for insurance benefits, settling pension claims, and closing family affairs. 

How to Apply for an Unabridged Death Certificate

Department of Home Affairs charges R75 for the service. The downside, however, is that you have to take a day’s leave to stand in long queues, and you cannot guarantee that you will be assisted when you reach the front of the line. A six-week wait is to be expected.


Consider using a legal document agent like DocAssist if you want the process to be less tedious and faster. There is a three-week turnaround time for unabridged death certificates and a one-week turnaround time for abridged death certificates. Apostilization of foreign documents is another service we offer. Get in touch with DocAssist today if you would like more information or to start the process. 


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