Where do I find Marriage Records in South Africa?
The initial starting point to get a copy of a marriage certificate is:
- The Master of the High Court or the Church, Mosque or Synagogue where the marriage took place.
- The Department of Home Affairs and for older marriages the National Archives.
- Below is a list of Marriage records
- Cullinan Marriages
- St. Georges Cathedral Cape Town Marriages
- St. Georges Cathedral Military Marriages 1811 – 1829
- All Saints Somerset West Marriages
- Free State Marriages
- Grahamstown Cathedral Marriages
- Mixed marriage records
- Methodist Marriages
- Namaqualand Banns
- Namaqualand Marriages
- St. France’s Simon’s Town Grooms Index
- St. Francis Simon’s Town Brides Index
- St. Francis Simons Town Marriages
- St. John’s the Evangelist Marriages Cape Town 1853 – 1925
- St. Mary’s Barkly West Marriages
- St. Mary’s Cathdedral Johannesburg Marriages 1887 – 1895
- St. Mary’s Port Elizabeth Marriages
- St. Olav’s Marriages Durban 1890 – 1979
- St. Paul’s Rondebosch Marriages 1929 – 1955
- St. Peters Mossel Bay Marriages 1855 – 1879
- St. Stephen’s Marriages Paarl 1876 – 1909
- Swellendam Anglican Marriages 1850 – 1887
- Wynberg Methodist Baptisms 1836 – 1910
Department of Home Affairs
For these certificates you will need to apply+ to the Department of Home Affairs, the official holding office for South African marriages. Applications should be lodged at your nearest Home Affairs office if applying from within South Africa. If living abroad, you should contact the nearest South African Embassy, Consulate or High Commission. Always request a full, unabridged vault copy. There is no public access at all to the marriages registers or indexes held at the Department of Home Affairs.
When contacting the Department of Home Affairs
Expect delays as they are very understaffed. Average waiting time is three months.
Take down the details of any official you deal with.
Supply an ID number for the person whose certificate you wish to obtain to speed up the process.
There is a charge of R45.00 per item.
The National Archives is the custodian for marriage certificates on behalf of the Department of Home Affairs up to the early 1970′s. A closed period of 20 years is applicable for access to Marriages records.
Below is a table for commencing dates for the registration of marriages in the various old provinces:
|Orange Free State||1848|
These indexes and registers are heavy and cumbersome. You will first need to know exactly which magisterial district the event took place before you can request the index. These indexes are not made available electronically, but the Western Cape indexes can be searched on Ancestry24. The Home Affairs Western Cape Index (HAWC) is housed in the Cape Town Archives as are the Home Affairs Eastern (HAEC) and Home Affairs Northern Cape (HANC).
How to search for marriage certificates in the Archives
As an example, if someone was married in Cape Town you will need to check places like Cape Town Central, Wynberg, Docks, Green Point, See Point, Woodstock, Observatory etc – all separate registers. To find the marriage certificate of an individual you will need to first consult the index to the marriages in the area in which it was registered, e.g. Worcester. The earliest reference number begins with 1/3/57/4/1 – which covers 1895 to June 1905.
Once you have got the register 1/3/57/4/1 you will need to look for the dates between 1895 – 1905 for that marriage registration.
The size of the initial index will depend on how many volumes of registers.
Some of these books are very large and the pages are difficult to photograph because of the size. They are on the top floor of the archives. First make sure you get your volume numbers correct before you attempt to order any of these books. Once ordered, be prepared for a very long wait.
Records of black marriages can be found under the Superintendent of Native Affairs in the Cape Town Archives covering the years 1877 – 1900.
- Anglican Church Archives at the William Cullen Library at Wits
- Methodist Church Archives at the Cory Library at Rhodes University
- Catholic Archdiocese of Cape Town