Abridged vs Unabridged Marriage Certificate: Difference and Comparison

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.

On the other hand, the Abridged marriage certificate and the unabridged marriage certificate have many distinctions. One marriage certificate cannot be used for the same reason as another marriage certificate. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Abridged certificates contain basic information, such as the couple’s names, marriage dates, and location.
  2. Unabridged certificates provide comprehensive details, including parents’ names and nationalities.
  3. Abridged certificates are issued faster and cheaper, while unabridged certificates may be required for legal purposes or immigration.

Abridged vs Unabridged Marriage Certificate 

An abridged marriage certificate is a shorter version of the official marriage certificate issued by the government or the relevant authority. An unabridged marriage certificate is a complete and detailed record of all the relevant information about the couple, their parents, and the witnesses.

Abridged vs Unabridged Marriage Certificate

Abridged marriage certificate issued by default to 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 it 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

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 an 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.

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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 of 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 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 an 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 the Home Affairs department also issues.

Unabridged Marriage Certificates, also known as full marriage certificates, are only provided for specific circumstances.

The certificate is only given to couples living outside the nation or planning to travel often. The couple will need this marriage certificate if they wish to emigrate or obtain a foreign passport.

Furthermore, the ‘Apostille’ mark appears on the Unabridged Marriage Certificates. 

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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.

Conversely, the abbreviated version contains information about the current marriage and identification proof for married individuals. 

Main Differences Between Abridged and Unabridged Marriage Certificates

  1. An abridged marriage certificate is the default marriage certificate, whereas an unabridged marriage certificate is one for which the applicant must especially apply. 
  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 want 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. 
  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=

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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10 thoughts on “Abridged vs Unabridged Marriage Certificate: Difference and Comparison”

  1. This article brings clarity to an overlooked topic. The distinction between abridged and unabridged marriage certificates is crucial, and the certificates’ functionality for international travel and legal purposes is well-explained. Couples need to be well-informed to prevent any inconveniences.

    • Very true. The comprehensive details about parents’ names and nationalities in unabridged certificates provide a complete background, which can be vital for various legal procedures. This should be made known to all couples.

  2. The information regarding the ‘Apostille’ mark appearing on the unabridged marriage certificates is quite intriguing. This post effectively explains the importance of having an unabridged certificate, especially for those planning to relocate. Couples need to be well-informed of the implications and processing times.

    • I agree. I appreciate the clear distinction between the two types of certificates. This is extremely useful for couples who may be confused about which certificate suits their situation best.

  3. This article provides in-depth information on the difference between abridged and unabridged marriage certificates. It’s crucial for couples to understand these differences, especially if they are planning to travel abroad. The comparison table is particularly helpful in highlighting the key distinctions.

  4. Marrying in South Africa becomes a complex legal process when considering these distinctions. The thorough explanation of the requirements and differences between the two certificates is informative, but it also highlights the bureaucratic challenges that couples may face.

  5. A thorough explanation of the purpose and differences between abridged and unabridged marriage certificates. As the legal requirements vary for different individuals, understanding these differences is crucial. This post provides valuable insights for couples navigating through these processes.

  6. The detailed comparison provided in this article is beneficial for couples who may encounter ambiguity in choosing the right certificate for their requirements. The straightforward explanation of parameters for comparison clears any confusion and aids decision-making.


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