In this guide, we dive into the real-life experiences of a foreigner living and working in Cape Town, as she shares her personal journey of getting married in South Africa. From navigating the intricacies of the Department of Home Affairs to gathering essential documents, this comprehensive account offers valuable insights into the process of marrying a South African spouse.
Residing in Cape Town on a spousal visa with working rights and having applied for permanent residency, I married my South African spouse in 2016. Hailing from Britain and working with New World Immigration, I've decided to share my experiences, along with the necessary documents and step-by-step instructions for fellow foreigners interested in tying the knot in South Africa.
Before embarking on the journey of marriage in South Africa, it's crucial to secure permission from the Department of Home Affairs. This involves obtaining a permission letter and undergoing an interview process. The time required for this process can stretch for weeks as you await an interview date after your initial visit to the Department of Home Affairs. Many foreigners are caught off guard by this requirement, often realizing it just days before their wedding day.
Arranging these interviews involves bringing along your affidavit or letter of non-impediment, passports, visa, the South African spouse's ID, and a divorce decree if applicable. Once our documents were submitted for verification, we awaited a phone call with an appointment date. Given the uncertainty of timelines, we were relieved when the call came within the following week, setting our interview date. I found the immigration department at the Bellville, Cape Town office to be incredibly helpful during this process.
To officiate our marriage, my spouse and I chose to enlist the services of a local marriage officer in Cape Town. This decision led to a beautifully simple paper-based ceremony with a touch of romance. This service provider offers a range of ceremony options and provided us with a letter to present to the Department of Home Affairs, confirming their role in our wedding.
It's important to note that a valid visa must be present in your passport, whether it's a temporary residency visa or a valid entry stamp if you initially entered the country as a visitor. The following documents are essential:
- Certified South African ID Document
- Certified Foreign Passport
- Custom Entry Stamp/Visa
- Three passport-sized photos of the couple
- Clear copy of the Divorce Decree with stamp (if applicable)
- Death Certificate (if applicable)
- Marital Status Affidavit (UK Nationals; more on this below)
- Letter of Non-Impediment
- Two Witness IDs/Passports
- Custom Entry Stamp/Visa of the witnesses
- Home Affairs Approval Letter post Interview
- B131 Form (provided by our marriage service)
For British Nationals, obtaining a letter of non-impediment might not be straightforward as the British High Commission doesn't issue them. Instead, you'll need to visit the nearest British Embassy, requesting a stamped letter stating that such certificates are not provided. No appointment is needed for this. Make sure to verify specific requirements with your local embassy.
The letter states:
“To whom it may concern at the South African Department of Home Affairs,
Thank you for your enquiry relating to your proposed marriage in South Africa and whether we can provide a Certificate of No Impediment.
Consular Officers in Commonwealth countries have no general powers, under the Commissioners for Oaths Act 1889, to issue Certificates of No Impediment, certify Documents, take oaths, affidavits, etc., which will be effectual in the United Kingdom.
As South Africa is a member of the Commonwealth, the British High Commission in Pretoria is not in a position to issue such certificates.
The Department of Home Affairs have confirmed to us that you should instead show your British passport and provide a copy of this letter and a sworn affidavit stating that you are not married, and that there is no legal impediment to your intended marriage.“
To continue, simply collect the letter and head to your nearest South African police station to acquire an affidavit form. This affidavit should affirm that you are not married and that no legal impediments exist for your intended marriage. Both partners need to sign it.
During the interview, my fiancé and I were interviewed separately. It's important to answer truthfully and openly. I was asked various questions including when and where we first met, the content of our initial conversations, the timing of his divorce, the proposal date, and our wedding plans.
Further queries touched on whether we desired children, the names and occupations of his parents and siblings, their marital status, their residence, details of our children including names and birthdates, our current living situation, homeownership, and our intentions to stay in South Africa. The interview lasted around half an hour. Interestingly, the interviewer takes notes and compares answers between interviewees. It appears questions are tailored based on responses.
After the interview, the Home Affairs representative will draft a letter expressing their assessment of the genuineness of your intent to marry. This letter is necessary for registering your marriage.
If you require assistance with renewing your current Life Partner Visa or obtaining a Spousal Visa, please don't hesitate to contact New World Immigration via our various channels.