Article on Unabridged Marriage certificates

Unabridged Marriage Certificate for marriages before 2010

Before a systemic change within the Department of Home Affairs, which came into effect in July 2010, couples were not issued a copy of their Marriage registrar. There were only 2 copies of the registrar, one was sent to Home affairs and one was kept by the Marriage Officer and sent to Home affairs a t a late date. When Applying for an Unabridged Marriage certificate, people need to submit a copy of their registrar, which leaves people married before 2010 in limbo.

After the change in 2010, couples are issued with a copy of their registrar as a 3rd copy of the registrar is now made available. The new system is better. However, when a couple that married prior to July 2010 applies for an unabridged Marriage certificate, problems arise because they do not have the third copy of the register and as such Home Affair will not release the Unabridged Marriage certificate.

Local offices of Home Affairs insist on couples producing their marriage register to receive the unabridged certificate. Resolving this issue can take a long time.

It is highly advisable for people to keep their copy of the registrar which is issued on the day of the wedding. Many couple are so elated that they are not even aware of signing the registrar and often cannot remember receiving this extremely important document. Many people misplace this document and only become aware of its importance when requiring an unabridged Marriage certificate.

Unabridged Marriage certificates are generally required when people need to:
Apply for Foreign Passports,


Register their Marriage overseas to a foreigner

Accompany a spouse

Spousal Visas

The above are just a few examples. We have even experienced clients who tried to apply for a 1st time British Passport using the Marriage certificate which used to be pasted in the old ID books. They had never heard of an Unabridged Marriage certificate.

We advise all our clients to locate their Marriage registrars. The Marriage Officer is required by SA Law to keep the records for 5 years however many keep the records for a very long time, so some people could be surprised.

If you need further information, advice or assistance with an Unabridged Marriage certificate, please feel free to contact visit us at

Unabridged Marriage certificates