What are the Legalities of Getting Married in the UAE?
Legalities of Getting Married in the UAE
Fidgeting over your wedding plan? Don’t know where to go for advice? Whom to trust? With the increase in the global community in UAE, and the ever-changing rules, it sometimes becomes impossible to keep track of the changing rules related to weddings.
So for expat brides-to-be, the major question is how to get the paper-work over with, and get on with planning the wedding.
Firstly, the wedding scene in the UAE is governed by Sharia Law. This law strongly establishes that the only legal bond between a man and woman is “MARRIAGE”. Therefore, only this legal bond can nurture children.
Marriage between an ‘Expat and an Emirati’
If you are an expat, marrying an Emirati, note that the rules and procedures differ on the basis of nationality and/or religion. If both parties belong to the same religion; then getting married is not very difficult, but if a Christian man wants to marry a Muslim woman then he’ll have to convert to Islam.
Marriage between ‘Expat Muslims and Non-Muslims’
Expat Muslims of any nationality can marry in the UAE at the Sharia court which issues their residence visa. Those on a visit visa cannot register their marriage at the Sharia court.
The rule clearly states that the man should be a Muslim, while the woman can be a Christian, Hindu or Jew in order to marry at a Sharia court.
For the attention of non-Muslims; every law which is applicable in your home country will be applicable here as well. While you live in UAE, it would be best to check with your embassy.
Marriage between ‘Expatriates of same religion’
For Christian weddings:
If you are of the same nationality and religion, then contact your embassy, and understand the procedure. If you are getting married in the church; then you will need a certificate of No Impediment to Marriage issued by your embassy before conducting the ceremony. To have this certificate issued, you’ll need to bring your passport, and sign an affidavit stating that you’re not already married and there is no hindrance to getting married. Don’t forget to bring along with you two witnesses. It may be possible to get married at your embassy depending on your nationality; otherwise you’ll have to go to a church.
If you’re both of different nationalities, but of the same religion, you’ll need to contact both your respective embassies to find out what the best or correct procedure is. There are different procedures for different nationalities.
UK citizens need to post wedding banns. Once posted, you’ll have to wait for three weeks before you can collect the banns and go to a church to get married.
US citizens need to get married by a pastor (Contact your church to make this arrangement).
Indian citizens can apparently get married at their embassy in Abu Dhabi, which can be followed by a religious ceremony in the church.
If you decide to get married at one of the Christian churches, expect to pay fees of about 2000 AED. Additional costs for flowers, photography, dress, suit, cake, air fares for friends and families, and all the usual accoutrements.
Christian churches will usually only marry a couple if both are Christians, however the Christ Church Jebel Ali, will marry the couple so long as one of you is a Christian with a baptism certificate.
Once you are married, you will receive a marriage certificate in English. This needs to be translated into Arabic by a court approved translator for your marriage to be valid in the UAE. Fees should be less than 100 AED. Once translated, submit both documents to the Notary Public Office at the Dubai Courts for certification (another 100 AED fee). You need to have UAE residence visas to be able to do this. Then you need to go to the Ministry of Justice, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the certification authenticated. Once all these procedures are completed, return to your own embassy to get the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authentication. This is required for the certificate to be valid in your home country. Please note that if both of you are of different nationalities, then you need to complete the procedures mentioned above at your respective embassies.
For Hindu Weddings:
Ceremonies in Hindu temples are not legally recognised. Legal procedures and registration for Indian nationals are handled by their embassy. The website provides all the guidelines and forms.
For further details contact-
For Islamic Weddings:
If you are not a UAE citizens then, a valid UAE residence visa is required.
The next step to take is to go to the Marriage Section of the Dubai Court along with the following-
- The bride’s father or guardian or his attorney.
- Passports as well as copies along with identification papers for the guardian and witnesses.
- Two male Muslim witnesses.
- Proof of divorce or death of husband for the bride if applicable.
- If the bride is Muslim, and her father is not, she needs a no objection letter from her embassy (or consulate) in Arabic (or translated into Arabic and attested by the Ministry of Justice) and attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- You’ll receive a UAE marriage license.
- 100 AED for fees (Keep extra cash at hand just in case).
- To authenticate it for validity in your home country, take it to the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then your embassy (or consulate) for authentication at each stop.
Marriage between ‘Expatriates of different religions’
In the case of mixed marriages; a few points have to be considered. If the groom is Muslim and bride is not, contact the Marriage Section of the Dubai court. You may be able to get married there. The above stated procedure for Islamic marriages will be followed.
If the bride is Muslim and the bridegroom is not, you cannot get married in Dubai until the groom converts to Islam. For religions other than Islam or Christianity, contact your respective embassies to find out what the best procedure is.
Marriage between ‘Expatriates with Non-religious ideologies’
UAE expats which have no particular religious interests need to complete the paperwork in their respective countries. If both of you have no religious inclinations, and would like to have a Dubai blessing ceremony performed instead of a religious one then an officiate needs to be contacted. Please contact your embassy to gain more information on the same.
What are the legal requirements
- Legal age for marriage is 18 years for both men and women (for an Anglican marriage).
- Bride and Groom may not be related (not required in case of Muslim marriages).
- Two witnesses are required who must show IDs.
- The legalities vary widely per nationality, so it is best to check with your embassy in UAE before planning your marriage.
- Generally it is easier if you are of the same religion.
How long a residence should I have held to get married here?
There are no residency requirements to get married in the UAE; however it takes at least 4 weeks to sort out the paperwork.
What are the legal requirements?
- Full birth certificates
- Ten year passports and photocopies
- Passports and photocopies of 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
- If you have been divorced then the final divorce papers and your former marriage certificate must be shown.
- If you are widowed then the death certificate of your previous spouse must be shown.
- Check with your embassy, as the requirements may differ based on religion and nationality. For example, the Russian embassy will not recognise a Dubai based marriage; you would need to arrange the official paperwork in Russia, and then carry out a blessing in Dubai. If you do marry in Dubai then it will not be recognised if you go back to Russia, you would be seen as ‘single’ and if you are seen as married in Dubai then you cannot remarry in Russia. It can cause a world of complications so it is best to check first!
- Make sure you suss out all the legal requirements for your marriage before you start the fun and creative planning!
- Make sure you gather all the required documents such as passport copies, birth certificates as soon as possible; this will help speed up the legal process.
- For most religions, you will need to marry in a place of worship; do not let this dissuade you if you are not highly ‘religious’. You can register your marriage at the embassy in the morning of the wedding; or a few days prior. You can then ask the priest to carry out a blessing with all your wedding guests as part of your wedding celebrations.
- If you are considering UAE as your wedding destination, then it may be worthwhile to legally marry in your country, and then come to Dubai for the ‘wedding’ – this can then be a blessing on the beach or in the desert or whatever you feel would be your ‘perfect wedding’ scene.
We hope that this post gives you relevant information, and proves to be helpful. If you need to gain more information regarding a particular topic related to legalities of getting married in the UAE, Please contact your local embassy or the courts!
Have a great time planning your wonderful wedding!