New Zealand High Commission Pretoria, South Africa

Getting married in Africa

There are a number of things that New Zealanders have to do before getting married outside of New Zealand. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Office in Wellington will be able to provide details.

If marrying in Africa it is important that you contact the relevant authorities in the relevant country to check their marriage laws and requirements.

Documents Required

Some countries require you to have a document stating that you are legally able to marry. The Births, Deaths and Marriages Office in Wellington issues this document, known as a Certificate of No Impediment. You will need to check with the relevant authorities of the country where you intend to get married about whether a Certificate of No Impediment is required.

Application forms for a Certificate of No Impediment can be downloaded from Births, Deaths and Marriages Office, completed and handed in at this High Commission for forwarding to the Births, Deaths and Marriage Office. The processing time for a certificate is normally four weeks. An up to date fee for this is available at the site above.

The relevant authorities in the African country where you intend to get married will also require you to present a full/unabridged Birth Certificate. Refer to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Office website if you require a new full birth certificate.

Registration and Recognition

Your marriage should be registered in the country where it took place. There is no legal obligation for you to have your overseas marriage also registered in New Zealand. The only practical benefit of registering your marriage in New Zealand is that a marriage certificate can be issued to you from New Zealand. However, this certificate does not replace the certificate issued to you in the country you were married in. Generally a marriage solemnised abroad in a non-polygamous country in accordance with the laws of that country will be deemed valid in New Zealand. Such marriages are recognised in New Zealand for the purposes of residence visa or citizenship applications.

If you feel it is essential to register your marriage in New Zealand, the 1995 Marriages Act requires that the witnessing of marriages be conducted by a New Zealand representative. You must therefore have it witnessed by an official from this High Commission.

If the ceremony is to be conducted locally and resources at the High Commission are available, then an officer may attend. We are not expected to attend weddings outside Pretoria and its environs. However, all requests will be considered against the location, staff resources and convenience.

A fee will be charged for witnessing a marriage. Also, if there are any costs incurred such as accommodation and travel, these are to be met by the person who requires a witness. Please contact the High Commission in Pretoria should you wish to pursue this option.

Please note that our Honorary Consuls in Cape Town, Kenya, and Mauritius are not able to witness marriages.

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