Answer to a question from a reader

My partner has an asylum permit. Can we get married?

The short answer

Yes, you can, if you have the right paperwork, and attend a Home Affairs marriage interview.

The long answer

Thank you for your email asking whether you and your partner can get married if he is on an asylum permit.

Asylum seekers and refugees do have the right to get married in South Africa as long as they meet the Home Affairs marriage requirements. These are:

  • that if you have been married previously, you must show proof of divorce or death of previous partner

  • that you are not a minor (under age of 18)

  • that you are not suffering from severe mental illness which prevents you from understanding what marriage is.

Your partner must also give Home Affairs a valid asylum seeker/refugee permit, as well as a declaration from the police confirming that he is not currently married.

The first step to getting married is to register your intention to marry with Home Affairs and apply for a Department of Home Affairs Marriage Certificate at least three months before your wedding date.

The following documents must be submitted with the Home Affairs marriage forms which are available on request:

  • Identification documents, such as a South African ID card

  • Both passports, if one partner is not South African

  • A completed BI-31 form, which declares that you are legally allowed to marry

  • Official divorce decree, stamped by the court, if one partner has previously been married

  • Death certificate, if one partner has been widowed

Before a marriage is declared legal in South Africa, couples are required to attend a Home Affairs marriage interview. This is to make sure that both parties are entering the marriage of their own free will. If you don’t attend an interview, the marriage certificate will not be registered and the marriage will be declared null and void.

Answered on May 30, 2019, 12:01 p.m.

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Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.