Check your marital status | Western Cape Government

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Check your marital status


To prevent fraudulent marriages in South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs allows you to check your marital status via SMS.


What is a fake marriage?

A fraudulent or fake marriage is when someone’s ID number is used in a marriage contract without their knowledge or consent. Victims typically find out about their “fake” marriages when it’s already too late or when they decide to get married and find out that they’re already married according to Home Affairs records.

The Department of Home Affairs is taking extra measures to limit fake marriages.

According to the Department, there’s been a decrease in fraudulent marriages since the introduction of the Smart Card ID’s in 2003 because it’s harder to duplicate the old green barcoded ID’s. However, fake marriages and identity theft remain a huge concern.

To prevent fraudulent marriages in South Africa, the Department of Home Affairs implemented stricter rules regarding foreign marriages in South Africa.

Married couple showing off rings.

New rules for foreign national marriages in SA

To reduce fraudulent marriages, there’s now a strict investigation and interviewing system in place.

Any couple due to enter into a marriage must book an interview with an immigration officer at their closest Department of Home Affairs. This must take place at least 2 weeks before the date of the ceremony.

During the interview, both partners are thoroughly questioned about the legitimacy of their relationship. The foreign nationals are asked questions about how long they have been in the country and whether or not they have a valid visa.

Valid passports and visas are required if 2 Foreign Nationals plan to wed in South Africa. In addition, 2 witnesses must be present at the ceremony and signing of the marriage register. The Marriage Officer enters the marriage into the register along with the signatures of the couple as well as the witnesses.

Once the register is signed, the marriage officer issues the newlywed couple with a handwritten marriage certificate.

The couple can then hand the certificate into the Department of Home Affairs where they will be issued with an abridged marriage certificate at no cost.

You can check your marriage status 

You can check your marital status via SMS:

Type the letter M and your ID number (eg M 5001010050080) and SMS it to 32551.

You can also use the SMS line to do the following checks:

• For your ID document application status: type ID then your ID number (e.g. ID 5001010050080).

• For your passport application status: type the letter P and then your ID number (eg P 5001010050080).

• For your living status (whether official government records have you listed as either dead or alive): type the letter L and then your ID number (eg L 5001010050080).

• For a duplicate ID number: type the letter D then your ID number (eg D 5001010050080).

You will receive the status directly to your cellphone via SMS.

For more information, contact your local Home Affairs office or contact the call centre at 0800 60 11 90.

Sources: and  Department of Home Affairs 

Provided At: These facility categories:
Provided by:
Government Body: (The Government of South Africa)
The content on this page was last updated on 29 July 2019