Pretoria – The Department of Home Affairs has noted reports on unauthorised changes of surnames for married women reflecting last names of their spouses as opposed to their preferred choices. 
In terms of Circular Number 10 of 2016, the Department had issued an instruction to officials to allow women to indicate their choice of surname under which they wish to be recorded in the National Population Register following the registration of a marriage. In terms of the Births and Deaths Registration Act No. 51 of 1992 as amended, a woman may, after marriage:


  • Assume her husband’s surname;
  • Add her surname to that of her husband (Double barrel surname); or
  • Resume a surname she legally bore at a prior time (Retain her surname)


The Department is aware of concerns raised in spite of the Circular, that the preferred surname is omitted in some cases when marriage registrations are captured on the National Population Register.
Said Acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso: “We have issued an instruction to our officials to ask the spouses what their preferred surname were. To this end, we undertook internal training to ensure that the legislation and regulations are adhered to fully. We call on all affected women to come forward with documented proof to allow us to resolve their cases.”
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