Expert Advice – Marrying in the UAE

Expert Advice – Marrying in the UAE

Family Law – UAE and UK

Marriage is the legally or formally recognised process by which two people make their relationship public, official, and permanent. When commencing this union, it is imperative that the marriage is performed in accordance with the requirements of the country where the marriage is to take place, and that the marriage itself is recognised and is in accordance with the couple’s religion or religions. Those of you planning to get married here in the UAE will be pleased to know that the UAE is a country whose marriage certificates are generally recognised worldwide.

The UAE is governed by Sharia Law, and the rules and procedures that you need to follow vary depending on nationality and religion. If a man and woman belong to the same religion, you should not experience too much difficulty getting married; however, when you are of different religions, you may face some problems.  These problems can be overcome as long as you meet the requirements to be eligible for marriage.

For non Muslim couples, you must have valid residence visas. 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 at their Embassy or Consulate in the UAE at least two months before the scheduled date of the wedding. You must therefore ensure that you enquire with your Embassy or Consulate with regards to their requirements.  If you are of different nationalities, you should enquire with both respective Embassies / Consulates. 

Islamic weddings must be performed in the Marriage Section of Islamic Courts under Sharia Law. You must both be UAE citizens or hold a valid UAE residence visa. If only one of you has 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 “woman of the book”. If the bride is Muslim and the groom is not, he will need to convert to Islam. You will need to specify a dowry (or a written declaration stating there is to be no dowry).  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 the required documents, please click here.

For Christian Weddings, when choosing a church (and Minister/Priest), please ensure that they are registered and recognised at the Dubai 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 fees for the service should be discussed at this time. The church may require a certificate of single status from one or both of you, and we are able to assist in drafting this for you along with having it witnessed. You should discuss with the church whether this is required. There are many Churches catering for the different Christian denominations here in the UAE. For example, Christ Church Jebel Ali (Anglican) and Holy Trinity Church (Catholic).

Following the ceremony, you will be provided with a marriage certificate in English which will have to be translated into Arabic (this must be done by a Court approved translator).  Once you have the translation, you will need to have the original and the translation stamped by the Notary Public Office at the Dubai Courts. The documents will then need to be authenticated at the Ministry of Justice and then attested at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. You should check with your Embassy or Consulate if the documents require authentication.  This process may be required to ensure that your marriage is legal in your country of citizenship.  Through feedback from clients, I understand that many churches now generally arrange for the registration of the marriage at the respective Emirates Court as it is a required in order for the marriage to be valid.

Finally, Hindu marriages, which are available for Indian citizens only, are conducted at a Hindu temple in conjunction with the Indian Consulate, and are recognised by the UAE.  It is a requirement that the bride and groom are Hindu and that both reside in the UAE.  You can enquire at the Indian Consulate with regards to the required documents. Once the ceremony takes place, you will receive a marriage certificate which needs to be translated into Arabic  (this must be done by a Court approved translator).  The marriage certificate and translations will then need to be certified by the Notary Public Office at the Dubai Courts.

The information above is an overview and we will be able to advise you through the process and assist you with any legal declarations that are required. There are also various other legal topics that you may wish to consider or discuss prior to your marriage, ie. Pre Nuptial Agreements.  Our further features will provide information on such agreements, however, in the meantime, if you require any specific advice prior to your marriage, please do get in touch with us.        


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