Update for Ex-pats who want to marry in UAE

Update for Ex-pats who want to marry in UAE

Family Law – UAE and UK

A marriage certificate for a valid marriage in the UAE, will be recognized worldwide.  The UAE is governed by Sharia Law, and the rules and procedures that you need to follow may vary depending on nationality and religion.   This article deals with situations where both parties are resident in UAE however, couples can marry in UAE where 1 party is a visitor and the other has a resident’s visa.  

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 in UAE. 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. It is therefore vital that before booking your wedding, you make enquires with your Embassy or Consulate with regards to their requirements.  Various Embassies/ Consulates in Dubai also conduct marriage ceremonies ie Indian Consulate, Philippines Consulate, French Consulate, Czech Republic Consulate to mention a few however marriages at the Embassy/ Consulate usually only take place when the bride and groom are of the same nationality. 

For Christian marriages – when choosing a church (and Minister/Priest), you should ensure that they are registered and recognised by the Dubai Courts to perform the marriage. 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.  You should discuss with the church whether this is required.  If it is, we are able to assist in drafting this for you along with arranging witnessing of the document.  

The main church used for Christian weddings in Dubai is the Christ Church Jebel Ali.  Specific information should be sought from the Church but generally, the bride and groom must be over the age of 18, neither must be Muslim and one of them may need to have been baptized.     

The Church will ask you to provide various documents which include, full birth certificates; passports including visa page if resident in the UAE; certificate of baptism or pastor’s letter; a single status certificate to prove status for marriage; intent of marriage applications; if divorced then a divorce certificate; if widowed then a death certificate of late spouse; 2 witnesses over the age of 18 and the passports of the witnesses.  You should also make enquiries as to the fees for the ceremony.  

If your application is approved, following the ceremony, you will be provided with a marriage certificate in English, stamped by the Notary Public Office at the Dubai Courts*.  The documents will then need to be attested at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  This will then need 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 Ministry of Justice. You should check with your Embassy or Consulate if the documents require authentication.  This process may be required to ensure that your marriage is recognized in your home country.  

*The Church may be able to arrange for the registration of the marriage at the Dubai Court so that the marriage will be valid.

For Hindu marriages – 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 should make enquires with 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.

For Islamic marriages  – conducted according to the Sharia provisions, which apply where both the groom and the bride are Muslims or where the groom is Muslim and the bride is from ‘Ahl Al-Kitab’; such as Christian.  Although the law permits a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim woman, it does not allow a Muslim woman to marry a non-Muslim man without proof of his conversion to Islam.  You should also be aware that Muslim women should have a guardian (usually her father) and two male witnesses. They cannot be alone and represent themselves.  If the father of the bride has passed away, his death certificate should be presented and the closest male guardian of the bride will then be required to attend.  In a circumstance that the father of the bride is alive but can not be present on the day of marriage, a proxy guardian can be delegated by him. This proxy must be Muslim and have a certified Power of Attorney from the father.  In circumstances where the bride has no male guardian whatsoever, the Judge may stand as her guardian, the Ministry of Justice have launched marriage service online  to allow couples who wish to get married at Court to book an appointment with a marriage officer through an online updated database linked to your Emirates ID.

The legal requirements for an Islamic marriages are :

  • Marriage contract should be registered in a Sharia Court in the UAE;
  • The bride and groom must be at least 18 years old  – If either is under 18 yeas old, the Judge’s approval is required;
  • A spouse’s age should not be twice the other – if it is, the judge’s approval is required;
  • A premarital screening certificate is required – please see below;
  • Attendance of both the bride and groom is required;
  • Attendance of the bride’s father or his proxy and two male Muslim witnesses are required;
  • For a bride to get married, she requires the consent of her guardian – in case of father’s demise, the presence of the next closest male guardian i.e. closest kin such as elder brother is required;
  • Divorced and widowed women must produce a proof of their status;
  • If the bride is Muslim and her father is not, she requires a ‘No Objection’ letter from her embassy or consulate;
  • If the bride or groom have converted to Islam, the conversion to Islam Certificate is required. 

Premarital testing is a mandatory requirement prior to marriage in the UAE Courts.  There are 25 health centers in UAE for premarital screening.  You will need to provide a copy of your passport or Emirates ID and 3 colored passport photos.  Once the report is issued, it is valid for 3 months. 

The above is a general commentary on the subject matter and should not be construed as specific legal advice. Updated information as to the relevant Laws, Rules, Regulations and requirement should be sought prior to making any application.  

For further information or advice in relation to any family matters, please contact Dee Popat or our Family Law department.

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