How to Marry an Alien
We all know that most of us whether we are living in Zimbabwe or in the diaspora, take ten deep breaths in preparation for every encounter with long queues and unclear direction at Zimbabwean government offices, whether it be for a National ID at sixteen years old or for a new passport. It is especially hard if you don’t have an inside connection or are unwilling to “lubricate” the situation with some incentives. Registering your marriage is no different and in my experience, trying to marry an ‘alien’, a foreigner in Zimbabwe in 2014 was one of the most gruelling experiences that took almost three weeks and was topped by extreme levels of anxiety a few days before the wedding when we had no idea if we would have to sign some fake blank sheets of paper during the ceremony. Since we did manage to achieve the seemingly impossible, we have received multiple requests from Zimbabwean friends needing some guidance for this process.
Below is a step-by-step guide for registering a marriage to a foreigner in Zimbabwe. The finer details (eg. locations of offices…etc.) are specifically for Harare, but the process should be the same in other major cities.
First of all, definitely set aside an entire month to take care of this process. If you have family at home that can do some of the running back and forth for you if you and your partner are abroad, then do so well in advance.
The Alien/Foreign partner needs to present:
Non marriage statement/letter/certificate from her/his government
This is a government issued statement that there has never been a marriage registered to them in their home country. If they are divorced it should also be the divorce paperwork as well as the non-marriage certification that the divorce has been registered and is final. This should be the original document, Scanned/copied documents will not be accepted
Clean Criminal record from her/his government
It makes sense to have the criminal records in the government system but I still found it funny to wonder what they would do if the criminal record is not clean. Are we not permitted to marry convicted criminals if we want to?
This should be the original document, Scanned/copied documents are not acceptable.
The Zimbabwean partner needs to present:
Clean Criminal Record (Processing time = 3 days)
This has three steps. A,B and C (each with a fee):
Step A. Go and purchase a form for fingerprinting at Kingstons in town/Avondale bookstore or other bookstores.
Step B. Get fingerprints at your local police station
It’s important to check with your local police station
(a) whether or not they do fingerprinting
(b) on what days they do fingerprinting (police stations that we tried were either open for fingerprinting on Mondays and Wednesdays ONLY between 9am-11am or on Tuesday and Thursday only from 11am – 1pm…etc it was complicated to follow. You have to know the times beforehand so perhaps best to do a scouting day first to discover which police station to go to and be first in line as soon as they open.
Step C. Submit the fingerprints form to Morris Depot police headquarters. Your police clearance will be ready in 2-3 days.
Non-marriage certificate from the Marriage Registrar’s office (Processing time = 8 days)
The Marriage registrar is located in the big government complex where you also apply for a passport. Working with this office requires deep meditation skills and A LOT of patience. We were told it would take a week but everything appears to still be in hard copy format. Patience, constant beaming smiles and over-the-top expressions of gratitude worked in our favour for a “speedy” 8-day processing time.
Submit all of the above documents from both partners to the Compliance office (processing time = 5-7 days)
The compliance office is in the Immigration section of Linquenda House in town. The compliance office should grant you a “permission to marry” that you will then pass on to your registered church/court official who will officiate your marriage ceremony.
I am happy to say we managed to secure all document just in time 2 days before the wedding.
I hope this guide will be of some help to any Zimbabweans wanting to get married and register their marriage to a foreigner in Zimbabwe.