Change of surname after marriage in South Africa: how to go about it

Change of surname after marriage in South Africa: how to go about it

Getting married is a big milestone for many women. Many prefer a change of surname after marriage, while others opt to retain their family name. If you choose to change your surname, you must follow certain legal steps to have it changed on all important documents.

Change of surname after marriage
Lovebirds being prayed for on their wedding day. Photo: pexels.com, @Pavel Danilyuk (modified by author)
Source: UGC

A change of surname after marriage or divorce is allowed in South Africa. The process is straightforward, and you should do it immediately after exchanging nuptials.

Change of surname after marriage in South Africa: how to do it

Section 26 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1992 allows South Africans to assume a different surname after marriage or divorce. A lady can assume her spouse's name after marriage or revert to her maiden name after divorce.

In 1997, the Act allowed women to have a double-barrelled surname, i.e. she can join her surname with that of her husband.

Change of surname after marriage in South Africa

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Did you know an application for a change of surname after marriage is no longer necessary? If you wish to effect a change of surname after marriage, you should notify the Department of Home Affairs.

The notification should be issued in writing to allow staff members in the department to update the population register. You must provide proof of wedlock.

Kindly note that a change of surname after marriage at the Home Affairs Department may take three to four months, so you must be patient. This is the only change of name that does not require applications.

Any other change may have a more complex process. If you successfully change your name, the following documents should bear the new surname.

  • South African national ID
  • Passport
  • Tax details
  • Driver’s licence
  • Employee details
  • Banking details
  • Voter registration details
  • Retirement annuities
  • Home loan documentation
  • Municipality account details
  • Medical aid details
  • Wills and testaments
  • Details on investment accounts
  • All legal contract details

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How do I change my surname after getting married?
A close-up of a man signing a document. Photo: pexels.com, @Cytonn Photography
Source: UGC

Changing a child's surname after marriage

According to section 25 of the Births and Deaths Registration Act, a minor's surname can be altered in the following circumstances.

  • If a mother divorces a child's biological father or the father dies, and she wishes to change the child's surname to her maiden surname or to the surname of her new husband.
  • If a minor is born before marriage and the mother marries a man who is not the child's biological father and wishes to change the child’s surname to that of her husband
  • If a minor is born before wedlock and registered under the biological father's surname, and she wishes to alter her child's surname to hers
  • If a minor is under a guardian's care and the guardian wishes to alter the minor's surname to theirs.

Requirements

The requirements for the changes to be effected are listed below.

  • A duly completed Form BI-193
  • The natural father's written consent if a minor was born in wedlock
  • Both the natural parents’ written consent in writing
  • Written consent from the mother’s husband whose surname the minor is to assume

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Re-registering a child after parents get married later in life

If a woman had a child out of wedlock, she can change the child's surname after getting married to the child's father. The child may be re-registered as born within wedlock. For this to happen, both parents must do the following.

  • Fill out Form BI-59 and sign it in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths
  • Provide proof of the marriage to any Home Affairs domestic office

NB: Applications may be lodged at any domestic Home Affairs office, any South African embassy, or consulate abroad.

Does your surname automatically change when you get married?
A person in a red top signing a document. Photo: unsplash.com, @Adeolu Eletu
Source: UGC

How do I change my surname after getting married?

You can do this by writing a notice to the Department of Home Affairs requesting for the change.

Can I change my surname online in South Africa?

No, you cannot. You can make the amendments by visiting any home affairs office or South African embassy or consulate if you reside outside the country.

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What do I need to change after getting married in South Africa?

You need proof of marriage and a written notice.

Does your surname automatically change when you get married?

No, it takes time for the officials at the home affairs office or South African embassy to update the population register. Usually, the change reflects in a couple of months.

How long does it take to change your surname at Home Affairs in South Africa?

It takes about three or four months to change your surname at Home Affairs in South Africa.

If you prefer a change of surname after marriage, you can do it at the Department of Home Affairs or visit the nearest South African embassy if you reside overseas. The process is straightforward, and it takes up to four months for the amendment to be made.

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Source: Briefly News

Authors:
Peris Walubengo avatar

Peris Walubengo (Lifestyle writer) Peris Walubengo is a content creator with 5 years of experience writing articles, researching, editing, and proofreading. She has a Bachelor of Commerce & IT from the University of Nairobi and joined Briefly.co.za in November 2019. The writer completed a Google News Initiate Course. She covers bios, marketing & finance, tech, fashion & beauty, recipes, movies & gaming reviews, culture & travel. You can email her at perisrodah254@gmail.com.

Cyprine Apindi avatar

Cyprine Apindi (Lifestyle writer) Cyprine Apindi is a content creator and educator with over six years of experience. She holds a Diploma in Mass Communication and a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Kenyatta University. Cyprine joined Briefly.co.za in mid-2021, covering multiple topics, including finance, entertainment, sports, and lifestyle. In 2023, she finished the AFP course on Digital Investigation Techniques. She received the 2023 Writer of the Year Award. In 2024, she completed the Google News Initiative course. Email: cyprineapindi@gmail.com

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