Checking Your Marital Status in South Africa

South Africa’s battle against fraudulent marriages has prompted the creation of an online marital status verification system managed by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). Although the online system is currently inactive, comprehending the process and exploring alternative methods will be valuable once it resumes operation.

Why Verify Your Marital Status?

  1. Fraud Prevention: Confirming your marital status shields you from unwittingly falling victim to fraudulent marriages, averting potential legal and financial repercussions.
  2. Peace of Mind: Ensuring the accuracy of your marital record dispels unnecessary concerns and confusion.
  3. Legal and Financial Matters: Accurate marital status is essential for various legal and financial transactions, including loan applications, estate planning, and property ownership.

The Department of Home Affairs and Marriage Records

The DHA plays a pivotal role in South African marriages by:

  • Solemnizing Unions: Overseeing civil unions, civil marriages, and customary marriages within the country.
  • Maintaining Records: Preserving a comprehensive database of marriages registered in South Africa.
  • Regulating Marriages: Enforcing stringent regulations to validate marriages and thwart fraud.

Current Status of the Online Marital Status Check System

Though the online system is temporarily unavailable, alternative methods exist to verify marital status:

Checking Marital Status via SMS:

  • Open your phone’s messaging app.
  • Compose a new message.
  • Type “M” followed by your South African ID number or passport number (without spaces).
  • Send the SMS to 32551. (Standard SMS charges of R1 apply)
  • Receive a reply confirming your marital status and marriage date (if applicable).

Marriage Rules and Regulations in South Africa

Understanding DHA regulations is crucial before contemplating marriage:

  • Eligibility: Both parties must meet legal requirements outlined by the South African Constitution.
  • Implications: Couples must grasp the legal consequences of marriage, especially concerning property ownership.
  • Legality: Marriage ceremonies must adhere to all legal prerequisites to be recognized as valid unions.

Documents Required for Marriage at Home Affairs

  • Valid Identification: South African ID cards or valid passports are mandatory for both parties.
  • BI-31 Form: Required if a South African citizen is marrying a non-South African.
  • Parental Consent: Individuals under 18 need written consent from a parent, legal guardian, judge, or Commissioner of Child Welfare (Form DHA-32).
  • Death Certificate: Necessary if either party is widowed.
  • Divorce Decree: Required if either party has been previously married.

Marriage Ceremonies and Certificates in South Africa

  • Conducting the Ceremony: Must be done at designated locations by a DHA-authorized marriage officer, with two witnesses present.
  • Certificate Issuance: The marriage officer provides a handwritten marriage certificate (BI-27) upon signing.
  • Registration: The marriage register is submitted to the nearest DHA office for recording in the National Population Register.


While the online marital status check system is temporarily down, South Africans can still verify their status via SMS. Understanding the significance of checking status, the DHA’s role in marriages, and relevant regulations are crucial for navigating marital legalities in South Africa.

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