Marriage to a Zambian
Every country has its own laws that apply to its citizens marrying a person from a different country. Getting married to a Zambian citizen with the goal of eventually bringing them to Canada to live is a process with many steps.
If you want to bring your Zambian spouse or partner to live in Canada, you must then file a sponsorship application for them to become a permanent resident. If they would like to visit you in Canada while their application is in process, they must also apply for a visitor visa. For more information, please see our family sponsorship page and our visitor visa page.
If you file a Canadian sponsorship application for your Zambian spouse or partner, this application takes an average of 10-12 months.
A visitor visa application for your spouse or partner to visit you in Canada while the sponsorship applications are processing takes an average of 3 –14 days.
Zambian Marriage Basic Requirements
The procedure for marrying in Zambia is as follows:
Any person wishing to get married in Zambia must complete Affidavits and Notice of Marriage forms which are available from the Civic Centre in Lusaka. The completed forms must then be submitted to the Local Government Administrator's Office at the Civic Centre where a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI) is issued for production to the person who is to solemnize the marriage.
Both parties are required to produce their original birth certificates. Normally it takes 3 weeks to process a CNI and costs roughly K 50,000. A fast-track service will set you back K130,000 and the CNI can be issued within 24 hours.
Once the marriage has taken place, the certificate must then be taken to the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in order to register the marriage and to obtain a Registrar's Certificate of Marriage. This must be done within three months after the marriage ceremony.
At least one of the parties to the marriage must be a resident within the district for at least 15 days prior to the marriage ceremony taking place. Please note that same sex marriages are not allowed or recognized in Zambia.
If your Zambian spouse has dependent children, this does not affect the Zambian Marriage document application.
If you have dependent children, they have no effect on the application to marry a Zambian citizen.
The Bemba tradition in Zambia recognizes four symbolic banquets in relation to courtship and marriage. These are
- Icisumina Nsalamu (Acceptance of marriage proposal),
- Icilanga Mulilo
- Ukukonkola (Granting authority) and
- Amatebeto (Thanks offering).
It is not uncommon to find a bride’s family preparing Icilanga Mulilo for the groom. Others may prepare Icisumina Nsalamu believing it to be Icilanga Mulilo. Some have knowingly practiced a mix and match version out of convenience.
There are four special ceremonial banquets involving the taking of symbolic meals from the bride to the groom in the period leading to marriage and after commencement of a marriage.
Icisumina nsalamu (Acceptance of marriage proposal).
Icisumina Nsalamu is a meal prepared by the bride’s family, which they deliver to the groom, to symbolize the acceptance of his marriage proposal.
The meal only consists of one plate of Nshima (the traditional thick porridge made from maize meal) and a plate of whole chicken.
The groom does not have to give back anything in return. The object of this gesture is for the bride’s family to show that they have accepted the marriage proposal on behalf of their daughter.
(Permission granting the groom freedom to have meals from the bride’s family during courtship visits).
Icilanga Mulilo is food prepared by the bride’s family and delivered to the groom to symbolize an open invitation to the groom to dine with the bride’s family in case of future visits during their courtship. Traditionally, the groom is forbidden from eating any food at the bride’s parents or guardian’s home before this symbolic gesture. Different types of dishes are prepared by the bride’s to showcase their traditional cuisine.
The groom is expected to eat or taste all the food, including the food that he is not familiar with.
The bride’s party prepares the meals at the house of one of their relatives. A big group of women carry the food on their heads while singing and drumming. They head to the house where the groom and his party are waiting. The bride is not involved in this at all.
When the party arrives at the gate at the groom’s location, they pause and wait for an invitation to enter. The groom’s family drops money on the ground in front of them. In a lighthearted display, the party may refuse to enter until more money is offered. The amounts of money involved are not large, only symbolic.
Once the invitation to enter is accepted, the singing party then proceeds to the house. At the door, they will turn around and enter the house walking backwards, with the food still balanced on their heads.
Once in the house, the singing and ululation continues. The women dance in the middle of the room. The party waits for an invitation to set down the food. Once more, this takes the form of money offerings from the groom’s family.
Finally there is more dancing and singing. Those who are gathered then tuck into the food.
This occasion, other than being a” showcase” of the bride's menu, also symbolizes that the groom is responsible for the welfare of his bride from then on into the marriage. He can now assume the responsibilities of taking care of his bride’s financial needs. The bride at this stage is also allowed to start cooking and doing laundry for the groom.
In the Icilanga Mulilo ceremony, the groom is allowed to give back something, usually money, as a token of appreciation for the meal when delivering back the empty plates to the bride.
Amatebeto (Thanks offering)
Amatebeto are prepared by the bride’s family and delivered to the groom after marriage has taken place. Amatebeto can be prepared two or more years into the marriage.
Amatebeto symbolizes the appreciation of the groom by the bride’s parents for keeping a trouble free marriage. It is an acknowledgement by the bridge’s family that the groom is capable of looking after his wife well and that they have re-affirmed their blessing of the marriage
In today’s practice, Amatebeto and Icilanga Mulilo have been used interchangeably. These two ceremonies are also easily confused for each other.
Ukukonkola (Granting authority)
Ukukonkola is a meal that is prepared for the groom by the bride’s parents. It is a meal that the groom eats at his in-law's house.
On this day, the meal symbolizes the authority that is given to the groom to make family decisions affecting his wife’s side of the family on behalf of elders in the bride’s family. The groom is allowed to make some decisions “without consulting” his in-laws. The bride’s family also declares their commitment to respect such decisions and to consider them as binding.
The groom is initiated by first going to his father and mother in-law’s bedroom. Traditionally, teenagers and adult children are not allowed to enter their parents’ bedroom, the parents’ bedroom is traditionally regarded as a sacred place for a son in law to enter.
On this occasion, the son-in-law is allowed access. He is expected to remove the bedding found on his in-law’s bed and to get whatever valuables he finds. He also has got to peep under the bed and to take anything that he finds there.
Thereafter he is led to the living room where he has to remove all the cushions on the sofa and reveal anything hidden underneath them. He is allowed to keep whatever he finds.
He is then led into the kitchen where he is to open all the pots and pans, and eat whatever he finds. He is not expected to leave any left-overs. All the remaining food is taken to his home after this initiation.
The meal symbolizes that the groom has become part of the family and is now regarded as one of their own children. After this ceremony, the groom can attend to his mother-in-law if she falls ill.
List of Zambian Consulates in Canada
Emergency Information for Canadians in Zambia
The Office of the High Commission of Canada
5199 United Nations Avenue
Telephone:(+260 21) 1 250 833
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Zambian currency is the Kwacha which is subdivided into 100 ngwee.
The name derives from the Nyanja and Bemba word for "dawn", alluding to the Zambian nationalist slogan of a "new dawn of freedom". The name ngwee translates as "bright" in the Nyanja language.
In 1982, copper-clad-steel replaced bronze in the 1 and 2 ngwee. These two were struck until 1983, with production of the 5 and 10 ngwee ceasing in 1987 and that of the 20 ngwee in 1988. Nickel-brass 1 kwacha coins were introduced in 1989 and depicted "Bank of Zambia" on the edges. The period of circulation for this coin was brief as inflation rates skyrocketed.
In 1992, a new, smaller coinage was introduced consisting of nickel-plated-steel 25 and 50 ngwee and brass 1, 5 and 10 kwacha. The coins depict the national crest on the observe and native fauna on the reverse. The coins were issued only one year and then discontinued as the economic crisis dragged on.
All these coins, both from the older and newer series still remain legal tender. However, the value of the metal in the coins is worth more than their irrelevant face value, so they are never seen or used in normal trade. The only place coins might be seen today is when they are sold as souvenirs to tourists.
The Currency Act of 1967 replaced the Zambian pound, shilling, pence currency for new kwacha and ngwee currency. Thus on 16 January 1968, the Zambian pound was replaced by the kwacha with the new official rate equal to one half the old unit, or US$1.
The 5-pound note became 10 kwacha, the 1-pound note 2 kwacha, the 10-shilling note 1 kwacha, and a new 50-ngwee note was introduced to correspond to the old 5 shillings. At the same time, the currency was decimalized.
5 kwacha notes were introduced in 1973, the same year that the last 50 ngwee notes were issued. 50 kwacha notes were introduced in 1986, with the 1 kwacha note being replaced by a coin in 1988.
100 and 500 kwacha notes were introduced in 1991, followed by 1000, 5000 and 10,000 kwacha in 1992, when the 5 and 10 kwacha notes were replaced by coins and the 2 kwacha discontinued. In 2003, 20,000 and 50,000 kwacha notes were introduced.
Exchange of foreign currency is carried out at authorized banks and bureau de change.
Credit & debit cards
American Express is widely accepted, with more limited use of Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa. Check with your credit or debit Card Company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.
Widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take travellers cheques in US Dollars, Euros or Pounds Sterling.
Currency restrictions: The import and export of local currency is limited to K100. Free import of foreign currency is subject to declaration on arrival. The export of foreign currency is limited to the amount declared on import. All passengers entering or departing from Zambia must declare all currency notes exceeding US$5000 or equivalent.
Banking hours: Vary from bank to bank, but most are open Mon-Fri 0815-1430.
Calling Zambia from Canada
Enter the exit code for Canada (011) then the Zambian area code (260)-local phone no. (011-260-local number)
Calling Canada from Zambia
Enter +1 then the local area code found below, and then the local phone number.
|Alberta||403 / 587 (southern Alberta)
587 / 780 (central and northern Alberta)
|BC||236 / 250 / 778 (majority of BC)
236 / 604 / 778 (Metro Vancouver)
|Ontario||226 / 519 (southwestern Ontario)
249 / 705 (northeastern Ontario)
289 / 365 / 905 (Greater Toronto Area)
343 / 613 (eastern Ontario)
416 / 647 (Toronto)
807 (northwestern Ontario)
|Manitoba||204 / 431||PEI||782 / 902|
|New Brunswick||506||Quebec||418 / 581 (eastern Quebec)
438 / 514 (Montreal)
450 / 579 (Greater Montreal)
819 / 873 (remainder of Quebec)
|Newfoundland and Labrador||709||Saskatchewan||306 / 639|
|Nova Scotia||782 / 902|
Time difference between Zambia and Canada
|Canadian Time Zone||# of Hours
Zambia is Ahead
|# of Hours
|Pacific (BC, Yukon)||10 hours||9 hours|
|Mountain (Alberta, western Nunavut, Lloydminster, Saskatchewan)||9 hours||8 hours|
|Saskatchewan||10 hours||10 hours|
|Central (Manitoba, Northwest Territories, central Nunavut, northwestern Ontario)||9 hours||8 hours|
|Eastern (most of Ontario, most of Quebec)||7 hours||6 hours|
|Atlantic (Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, eastern Quebec)||6 hours||7 hours|
|Newfoundland||5.5 hours||4.5 hours|
According to the 1996 constitution, Zambia is officially a Christian nation; 98% of the population being Christians. Still there are a variety of other religious groups that exist, in addition to traditional beliefs.
Regardless of the fact that the country is a Christian nation, there is freedom of worship therefore other religions are accepted and allowed to practice their faith.
The denominations include;
- Roman Catholic
- New Apostolic Church
- Seventh Day Adventist
- Jehovah Witness
- The Church of Jesus Christ of the latter day saints
The Presbyterian Church in Zambia traces its roots in the Church of Scotland dating back to 1860s.In Zambia, their main work is evangelism work through theological studies.
By supporting several educational institutions like the United Theological College in Kitwe, Justo Mwale Theological College in Lusaka and Mindolo Ecumenical Centre, and a study/training centre in Kitwe they spread the gospel through education.
The Presbyterian Church also provides health ministry through running hospitals throughout Zambia
The Roman Catholic Church in Zambia is part of the worldwide Roman Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope and curia in Rome Italy.
Catholics first arrived in Zambia by crossing the Victoria Falls of the Zambezi River in 1879. They established parishes and missions throughout Zambia. There are 10 dioceses including two archdioceses namely:
The Anglican Church in Zambia grew out of the missionary work of David Livingstone and others in the second half of the 19th century. Today, Anglicans make up about 2% of the population in Zambia.
The five dioceses each cover a wide area; there are a total of around 60 ordained priests. Some priests care for more than one parish, and one parish includes many congregations.
Islam was introduced in Zambia in the fourth Hijri century when Muslims established emirates on the coast of East Africa. During that time, Muslim merchants and traders were looking to extend their business to the interior regions reaching Zambia in the period of the Omani dynasty Al Bu Said.
Arab slave traders entered Zambia from their trading bases on the coast of Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique. Over a period of hundreds of years more than four million slaves were stolen from Zambia and surrounding countries and exported from Swahili ports by Arab traders to India, Arabia and the wider Middle East.
Islam constitutes of about 1% of the population, there is a small community of Jews as well. Hindu and Sikh communities also exist in small numbers.
Hinduism is the third largest religion in Zambia with a population of about 25,000. They have their own association called Hindu Association of Zambia with branches in all major cities and towns.
Hindu temples in Zambia are;
- Radha Krishna Mandhir
- Kafue Amman Temple
- Radha Krishnan Mandir
- Panchmukhi Hanuman Temple
Zambian famous Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo made news by ditching his high profile bishop post to marry a Korean woman; he was later on ex-communicated by the Roman Catholic church in 2006.
Zambia has many exotic locations that would be ideal for a honeymoon. From the Victoria Falls, to Zambezi River, this country suits the needs of any couple looking for a romantic getaway.
Tongabezi is one of Zambia's most romantic lodges, with open-front suites overlooking the Zambezi River and romantic features like a candlelit dinner for two or bubble bath with sparkling wine. It is located in Victoria Falls; it’s a safari lodge type of resort with 11 rooms.
Puku Ridge is another exclusive location boasting of with 7 spacious tents each with a hot tub, outdoor shower, and private deck with a view overlooking a waterhole in valley in the Luangwa that hosts a variety of game. It is located in South Luangwa National Park, this is a tented camp resort.
Sausage Tree Camp
Sausage Tree has 2 luxurious honeymoon suites in the form of tents tucked away amongst the trees, each with a massive four poster bed, private deck, plunge pool and a fantastic view of the river Zambezi.
It is located in the lower Zambezi National Park and has 6 rooms. It is a tented camp resort.
Busanga Bush Camp
Busanga Bush Camp is set in a remote but cosy location in the plains North of Kafue town.It has 4 rooms and is also a tented camp resort.
The Royal Livingstone
Located at the Victoria Falls, this resort has B&B, airport transfers to and from Livingston Airport, sunset cruise on the African Queen and standard rooms.
The Sambezi Sun
Also located at the Zambezi River, facilities include standard room, B&B, airport transfer to and from Livingston Airport
Sussi and Chuma
Another spectacular resort at the Victoria Falls, offering emergency evacuation, airport transfer to and from Livingston Airport among other facilities.
Sponsoring Your Zambian Spouse to Canada
To learn more about the sponsorship process, click the button below.