Civil Unions

The Civil Union Act 17 0f 2006 came into operation on the 30 November 2006 and allows anyone – regardless of their sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnic or social origin – to enter into a civil union through either a registered marriage or civil partnership and provides for the legal consequences of the solemnisation and registration of civil unions

Civil unions may be conducted by:
• designated marriage officers for specific religious denominations or organisations
• designated officers employed by the Department of Home Affairs and the Magistrates’ Courts
At least two competent witnesses must be present at the ceremony.

Requirements for registering a Civil Union
• Both persons must be 18 years or older to enter into a Civil Union
• Both persons may not be already married in terms of any other Act. E.g. Marriage Act or the Customary Marriages Act.
• The Marriage Officer must have the requisite documents listed below before he/she can register and conclude the civil union.
• Two competent witnesses must be present to witness the civil union.

Documents required to conclude a Civil Union
• Valid South African identity books for both persons entering into the Civil Union
• A valid passport if one of the partners is a foreign national
• A completed Form DHA-1763 (Declaration for the Purpose of Marriage)
• Form DHA-1766 (Civil Union register), which must be completed by the marriage officer
• A completed Form DHA-1764 (Registration of a Civil Union) in which the couple must indicate whether or not they are entering into a Civil Union marriage or a Civil Union partnership
• A copy of the Divorce Order if one of the partners was previously married but subsequently divorced.
If any of the required documentation cannot be produced, one of the partners must submit an affidavit confirming the documents cannot be made available for the purpose of concluding the Civil Union.

Registration of civil unions
• The prospective civil union partners must individually and in writing declare their willingness to enter into the civil union by signing the prescribed documents in the presence of two witnesses.
• The marriage officer and two witnesses must signed the prescribed document.
• The Marriage officer must issue the parties with a registration certificate stating that they have under this Act entered into a marriage or civil partnership as prima facie proof of the civil union.

Legal consequences of civil union
The same legal consequences that apply to the Marriage act extends to all valid legal civil unions.