Difference Between Abridged and Unabridged Marriage Certificate

When you marry in South Africa, you will receive either an abridged or an unabridged marriage certificate. Marriage certificates, both abridged and unabridged, are valuable. The Abridged marriage certificate and the unabridged marriage certificate, on the other hand, have a lot of distinctions. One marriage certificate cannot be used for the same reason as another marriage certificate. 

Abridged vs Unabridged Marriage Certificate 

The main difference between an Abridged and an Unabridged Marriage certificate is that an Abridged marriage certificate is a default marriage certificate whereas natives require a special unabridged marriage certificate for getting a visa and going abroad. There are no additional charges for the Abridges marriage certificate whereas there are additional charges for an Unabridged certificate and it is hard to get an Unabridged marriage certificate. 


Abridged marriage certificate issued by default to the south African couples. This marriage certificate is not valid for outsiders(foreigners) or those who want to travel abroad. This certificate is only given to couples who are South African citizens and for the default certificate, there are no charges and doesn’t take much processing time. 

Couples of foreign origin are normally obliged to get an unabridged version of their marriage certificate. It’s also known as a complete marriage certificate, and it’s more official than an abridged marriage certificate in every way. It has far more information than the abridged version and therefore is issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs after payment of a charge. It also takes much longer to receive than the abridged version. 

Comparison Table Between Abridged and Unabridged Marriage Certificate

Parameters of Comparison  Abridged Marriage Certificate  Unabridged Marriage Certificate 
Standard This marriage certificate is the default marriage certificate in South Africa. This marriage certificate is not standard and requires. 
Valid Not valid for visa This marriage certificate is valid for VISA. 
Issued to  When both the parties belong to South Africa only. Issued when one or both persons are foreigners. 
Charges There are no additional charges for this Marriage certificate. There are additional charges for this Marriage certificate. 
Processing time Doesn’t take much time as the local authorities issue the certificate It May take up to several weeks for receiving the marriage certificate 

What is Abridged Marriage Certificate? 

Abridged Marriage Certificates are issued by the Department of Home Affairs and are given to couples by default. The certificate is given to the newlyweds right after the ceremony. This Abridged Marriage Certificate is sufficient for South African couples; this is the only certificate required by South African couples.

 An abridged marriage certificate is issued automatically and for which no fee is charged. The shortened version of a marriage certificate is suitable for a normal couple residing in South Africa because it is a legitimate document in all situations. As it is easier to avail the certificate by locals it becomes convenient for everyone and it’s already accepted in the whole country so they don’t need to do the hard work for the registration. 

As the document costs no additional penny every marriage gets registered right after the marriage ceremony. Those who want to stay within the country and have no motive to move abroad can plan their wedding without worrying about the registration. Not in every country do we see this thing, in most countries the processing time and legal formalities make people proceed with marriage without registration.

An abridged Marriage certificate doesn’t need much processing time as compared to an unabridged marriage certificate. 

What is Unabridged Marriage Certificate? 

All non-South African couples or those where one of them is not a South African are granted an unabridged marriage certificate, which is also issued by the Home Affairs department. Unabridged Marriage Certificates, also known as full marriage certificates, are only provided for specific circumstances.

The certificate is only given to couples who live outside of the nation or who plan to travel often. If the couple wishes to emigrate or obtain a foreign passport, they will need this marriage certificate. Furthermore, the ‘Apostille’ mark appears on the Unabridged Marriage Certificates. 

An unabridged marriage certificate is by far the most complete proof of your union and is useful in any situation. As a result, following the wedding, you should ask for just an unabridged marriage certificate. This certification takes 12 weeks to arrive, so apply quickly to prevent disappointment if you’re planning to relocate abroad.

One distinction between the two forms of marriage certificates is that the unabridged version includes all data of a person’s marital history previous to marriage, including how he’s a spinster, divorcee, widower, and so on. The abbreviated version, on the other hand, just contains information about the current marriage as well as identification proof for the individuals married. 

Main Differences Between Abridged and Unabridged Marriage Certificate

  1. An abridged marriage certificate is the default marriage certificate whereas an unabridged marriage certificate is a certificate for which the applicant has to apply especially. 
  2. An abridged marriage certificate is not valid for Visa or international travel whereas an unabridged marriage certificate is accepted and considered internationally. 
  3. An abridged marriage certificate is only issued when both people are south African citizens whereas an unabridged marriage certificate is issued when one or both people are not south Africans or wants to travel abroad. 
  4. An abridged marriage certificate doesn’t need additional charges whereas an unabridged marriage certificate requires additional charges. 
  5. An abridged marriage certificate doesn’t take much processing time charges whereas an unabridged marriage certificate may take up to 12 weeks for processing. 


The unabridged marriage certificate has more information, even though both the abridged and unabridged marriage certificates contain all personal facts such as name, date of marriage, ID evidence, and other necessary information. When comparing the two marriage certificates, the unabridged marriage certificate can be considered the final proof of marriage and can be utilized in any situation.

 Such couples are automatically given an abridged marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs. For couples living in South Africa, the Abridged Marriage Certificate is sufficient; for South African couples, this is the only certificate required. All non-South African couples or those where one of them is not a South African are granted the Unabridged Marriage Certificate, which is also issued by the Home Affairs department. 


  1. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Ty7RDgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PT6&dq=Abridged+and+Unabridged+Marriage+Certificate&ots=4Pky-BYSqi&sig=YMGgAjyN13SiO94_-T4qJ2X1X7g&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
  2. https://heinonline.org/HOL/LandingPage?handle=hein.journals/mcglr2&div=15&id=&page=
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