Marriage for Ex-pats in UAE
Are you living in UAE and thinking of getting married here ? If so, there are certain formalities that you should be aware of prior to your marriage. Below I will provide an overview of relevant information which I hope you will find useful.
Depending on your nationality/religion, the rules and procedures will vary. If you both belong to the same religion, you should not experience much difficulty however, if of different religions, you may face some problems. Saying this, there is no need to worry as these problems can be overcome as long as you meet the requirements to be eligible for marriage.
You should be aware that the marriage laws that are applicable in your home country will be applicable here. Some countries require their citizens to apply for marriage to their Embassy* in the UAE at least two months before the scheduled date of the wedding. It is therefore essential that enquiries are made with your Embassy with regards to their requirements. If you are of different nationalities, you should enquire with both your respective Embassies.
Islamic weddings must be performed in the Marriage Section of Islamic Courts under Sharia law. You should both hold a valid UAE residence visa. If only one of you have a residence visa, the other must undergo a medical examination as a medical certificate will be required. Although the groom must be Muslim, the bride should be a “women of the book”. If the bride is Muslim and the groom is not, he will need to convert to Islam. Usually the father of the bride or her guardian will need to be present and you must ensure that there are two male, Muslim witnesses.
For Christian weddings, when choosing a church and Minister/Priest you should ensure that they are registered and recognized at the UAE Courts. You should also check with the Minister/Priest if they are happy to marry you as some only marry members of their own congregation. The church may require a certificate of single status from one or both of you and if you need this document, I will be able to assist in drafting this for you along with having it witnessed.
Following the ceremony, you will be provided with a marriage certificate in English which will have to be translated into Arabic by an approved translator. Once the translation is prepared, you will need to have the original marriage certificate and the translation stamped by the Notary Public Office at the Courts. The documents will need to be authenticated at the Ministry of Justice and then attested at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You should however, check with your Embassy if the documents require authentication. This process may be required to ensure that your marriage is recognised in your country of citizenship. Some churches can arrange for the registration of the marriage at the respective Emirates’ Court as it is required in order for the marriage to be valid.
Hindu weddings (this is only available for Indian citizens). The marriage is conducted at a Hindu temple in conjunction with the Indian Consulate and is recognised by the UAE. It is a requirement that the bride and groom are Hindu and both reside in UAE. Once the ceremony takes place, you will receive a marriage certificate which needs to be translated into Arabic by an approved translator. The marriage certificate and translation will then need to be certified by the Notary Public Office at the Courts.
You will be pleased to know that the UAE is a country whose marriage certificates are generally recognised worldwide.
Another question which is often asked is whether non residents can legally wed in the UAE. It is important to note that in order to marry here, one of you must hold a valid UAE residence visa. You both must be at least 18 years of age and must not be related. If you do decide to marry here, you will require two witnesses who will be asked to provide their ID documents.
As above, prior to booking the wedding, you should check all the requirements with your respective Embassies, as it may take some time to sort out the paperwork. Some Embassies require a Certificate of No Impediment (CNI), which states that you are free to marry or an affidavit of marital status, stating that you are free to marry. Not all Embassies provide this service and if you require this document, I can draft and swear the document for you.
The legal papers include the following (you should however check with your Embassy for specific nationality requirements) : full birth certificates; passports and photocopies; the passports and photocopies of the two witnesses; UAE Medical fitness certificate and blood test undertaken at Ministry of Health affiliated medical centres; sworn affidavit stating that you are free to marry or certificate of single status; if you have been divorced then the final divorce papers and a copy of your marriage certificate; if you are widowed then the death certificate of your spouse must be shown. As UAE is a Muslim country, if you are not a Muslim you will have to marry in a church, venue with a wedding licence or at your Embassy (if they conduct marriage ceremonies as not all Embassies offer this facility). You should also be aware that if your marriage is performed in any other language (ie English), for it to be valid in UAE, you will need to have the marriage certificate translated into Arabic by an official translator. The English and Arabic versions of the marriage certificate will need to be certified by the Notary Public Office at the Courts. The marriage certificate will then have to be authenticated by the Ministry of Justice and then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Once the above process has been adhered to, you will need to produce the duly stamped marriage certificate at your Embassy to get it authenticated for use in your own country. If you are both of different nationalities, you will both need to follow this process at your respective Embassy. For Muslim expatriates, the marriage contract must be registered in a Sharia Court in the UAE.
Often resident or non resident couples decide to marry in their home Country or another Country as the formalities/paperwork here may take some time. If you do decide to do this, you can always consider having a blessing ceremony or wedding reception in UAE.
*Any reference to an Embassy is also reference to a Consulate.
The above information is an overview and if you require specific advice, please do to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I will be able to advise you through the process and assist you with any legal declarations that are required.
At James Berry & Associates, we also offer other legal services. If you have any other legal requirements, please do get in touch with me and I will put you in touch with the relevant lawyer at James Berry & Associates. www.jamesberrylaw.com
Dee Popat LL.B(HONS)
Head of Family Department / UK Solicitor
James Berry & Associates Legal Consultants
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