Even a seemingly simple process such as getting a marriage certificate in South Africa can be a lengthy and time-consuming one if you don’t understand the steps involved and attempt the process on your own.


In South Africa, civic certificates like marriage certificates are issued by the Department of Home Affairs. If you lost your original certificate or need an unabridged version, your records will need to be retrieved from their vault archives before a new certificate can be issued.


To be legally married, two people need to have an unabridged marriage certificate. Sometimes these documents have dual purposes. The certificate establishes the legality of the nuptials. Also, it shows that the marriage was witnessed by legally qualified witnesses.


Once a marriage is registered in South Africa, newlyweds automatically receive an abridged marriage certificate. When you are on the Home Affairs system, you can request an unabridged marriage certificate.


Because they do not contain any additional information about the parties, abridged marriage certificates cannot be used for official purposes overseas. Even though the word UNABRIDGED does not appear on newer unabridged marriage certificates issued by the DHA, this is still the version you will need when travelling abroad since this is the only version of the certificate that can be apostilled.


DHA records all new marriages at its Pretoria headquarters. These copies are called vault copies. A marriage certificate must be unabridged when applying for a foreign passport or visa. Once you have located your original document, a vault copy will be issued. 


But obtaining these vault copies is often a lengthy and complicated procedure. A Home Affairs official who reviews the application must go into the state archives to locate the original document. Because the archives are not on-site and are in very poor condition, it takes a very long time to find the vault certificate, if it can be found at all! 

How Do I Get a Copy of My Marriage Certificate in South Africa?

The Doc Assist team can help. As we’ve mentioned before, locating the file in the DHA vault is a tedious process. When you go it alone, you may have to wait months, and in some cases, even years. However, the team of experts at Doc Assist might be able to assist in a matter of weeks. For more information or to start the process of obtaining your marriage certificate in South Africa, get in touch with the team today.


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