Civil Marriages For Ex-pats In UAE – 2023 Update
Hats off to the Family Courts and Legislators in UAE who have come a long way in ensuring that the Expatriate community (of which there are approximately 9 million in the UAE), feel assured that their morals and rights are upheld.
During the years, steps have been taken to simplify processes such as marriage for Expats. Following the implementation of Divorce Law No. 14 (of 2021) in Abu Dhabi allowing for Civil marriages to take place, it was only a matter of time for Dubai, and other Emirates to follow suit. The much awaited Federal Decree Law No. (41) of 2022 on Civil Personal Status was implemented on 1st February 2023. The provisions of the Decree apply to Non-Muslim Expatriates who reside in the UAE. The new Law provides clarity and guidance in respect of Civil marriages which effectively makes it easier for Non-Muslim expats to get married in the UAE Courts.
Article 5 of the Decree stipulates that a civil marriage shall be conditional upon the following:
- Both parties must be at least 21 years of age.
- The parties must not be related.
- The parties must each declare their consent to the marriage.
- The parties must sign a disclosure form.
Article 6 of the Decree further goes on to set out the procedure for a Civil marriage to include the following:
- the process must take place before a Judge in the competent Court following an application made on a prescribed Form.
- The parties are required to complete the application in which they can agree on conditions of the marriage contract. The contract shall prevail in terms of the rights of spouses during marriage and post-divorce and can also address matters such as custody of children.
- The contract form shall include the disclosure by the parties of any previous marriages along with the date of divorce or death of spouse and also a declaration by the wife that no marriage is still effective. Further, the husband is required to submit a declaration in the event that the Law of his home Country does not permit polygamy.
- The contract must include an indication that the parties’ consent to the marriage verbally or in writing.
- The contract shall be produced in a bilingual form.
- After verifying the fulfilment of all the conditions of a civil marriage contract, and after completing the procedures, the Judge shall ratify the marriage contract, and the contract shall be entered in the register maintained at the Court.
Although the above are procedural guidelines, the previous prerequisites still apply in Dubai namely that at least one party to the marriage must have a residence visa in the UAE and the parties need to obtain a positive pre-marital screening certificate issued from the concerned public healthcare facilities in the UAE. It should be noted that for any foreign documents that are to be submitted to the UAE Court, the same will need to be legalised in the home Country prior to having it translated to Arabic and stamped by the Ministry of Justice in UAE.