The Civil Union Act specifies the following requirements for registering a civil union.
- Anyone who is 18 years or older may enter into a civil union (in terms of the Civil Union Act) and can choose to register it as a marriage or civil partnership. When it has been registered a certificate will be issued with the details of the union.
- A person may only be a spouse or partner in one marriage or civil partnership.
- A person who enters into a civil union is not allowed to also enter into a marriage under the Marriage Act or the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act 120 of 1998. In the same way, a person who is already married under the Marriage Act or the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act may not register a civil union in terms of the Civil Union Act.
- If a person wants to enter a civil union and he or she has previously been married under either the Marriage Act, Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, or registered as a spouse in terms of the Civil Union Act, the person must present a certified copy of the divorce order or death certificate of the former spouse or partner as proof that the previous marriage or civil union is no longer valid.
- A civil union may only be registered by two civil union partners who would, apart from the fact that they are same sex, not be prohibited by law from marrying each other under the Marriage Act or Recognition of Customary Marriages Act.
- A valid South African identity document is necessary for the registration of a civil union.
- All the legal and material benefits and responsibilities that flow from marriages entered under the Marriage Act will also apply to marriages or civil partnerships registered in terms of the Civil Union Act.
- Any civil marriage officer, for example, a Magistrate, selected government officials and/or special justice of the peace, recognised by the Marriage Act are automatically entitled to conduct marriages and civil partnerships under the Civil Union Act. A minister of religion and the religious organisation must first get authorisation from the Minister of Home Affairs to register a civil union.
(See: Problem 2: Entering into a civil union)