Recognition of foreign marriages in South Africa

Destination weddings

If you intend to have a destination wedding or if the husband is not a South African, you can and should enter into an antenuptial contract regulating the consequences of your marriage. Otherwise, you may be married in community of property. See this article.

Registering a foreign marriage in South Africa

You should inform the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) of the foreign marriage to update your marital status and surname, if it has changed, on the Population Register.

You must submit the following documents to register the marriage:

  • A written request for the foreign marriage registration, including your full contact details (address, mobile number, and email address).
  • Your South African passport or identity document.
  • Original or certified copy of the foreign marriage certificate accompanied by an English translation by a sworn translator if the original marriage certificate is not in English.

The DHA does not issue a certificate confirming the changed status. However, it will capture the information on its website.

Change of surname

A female South African citizen who has changed her surname after marriage may apply for a new tourist passport and identity document reflecting her new married surname.

However, she does not need to apply for the change of her surname formally and may choose to use either:

  • Her married surname
  • Her maiden surname
  • A double-barrel surname combining both married and maiden surnames

  • Any other surname had at any time prior to her current marriage

Any male South African citizen who has chosen to change his surname after marriage must make a formal application for the change of surname.

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