HOW TO GET MARRIED IN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FOR EXPATS AND TOURISTS
Living in the 21st century (the Anno Domini era) it became a trend to travel abroad, visit different countries, explore the unknown, experience new flavors, and sounds, meet new people, study outside of your mother country, and, even more, to build your new life and settle down anywhere in the world.
It is not a secret that Dubai became one of the most popular destinations for millions of people. Here you can travel, study, work, get your property, and even more – get officially married.
Residents, tourists, and visitors can apply for marriage in Dubai, however, the most important requirement is that at least one party of the marriage contract (husband, wife, or wife’s guardian) MUST HAVE a residence visa in the UAE. In other emirates, both bride and groom must be UAE residents (accept Civil Marriage in Abu-Dhabi see below).
In all below cases, a positive pre-marital health screening certificate must be procured for both the bride and the groom, issued by DHA primary healthcare centers. Based on the medical screening certificate, the marriage application may be denied if one of the parties suffers from a:
- genetically inherited blood disease,
- transferable disease.
The first option is to get married through your Embassy
Below, you can see the example based on the procedures of the Russian Embassy.
The most important part here is that you and your future spouse MUST BE Russian passport holders. You cannot marry a non-Russian national in Russian Embassy!
*The same concept applies to the Embassy of any other country i.e. both of you must be passport holders of the same country.
The second point is again, the above requirement for one of you to hold a UAE residence visa.
There are extra restrictions stipulated by the Russian Embassy and read as follows “the marriage cannot be concluded between:
- individuals, of which at least one is already registered in another marriage;
- close relatives – relatives in a direct, ascending, and descending line (parents and children; grandfather, grandmother, and grandchildren), full and half-blooded (having a common father or mother) brothers and sisters;
- adoptive parents and adopted children; and
- individuals, of which at least one has been recognized mentally incapable by the court.”
Documents required for marriage registration through Russian Embassy are:
- application form signed by both parties in the presence of the consul of the Russian Embassy (the application form can be downloaded through the official website of the Embassy, it is very important to present the same draft);
- originals of internal and international passports, as well as copies of the main pages;
- confirmation of the permanent residence of one of the future spouses in the UAE (i.e. UAE resident visa and its copy);
- original certificate of marital status (and its copy), which confirms that you are not registered in another marriage. In case one of you was married before, you must present an original document (and its copy) confirming the termination of the previous marriage (i.e. certificate of divorce, death of the spouse, a court decision that entered into legal force on recognizing the marriage as invalid, etc.)
The Russian Embassy confirms that the official registration of marriage will be carried out after one month from the date of submission of the application form together with all required (listed above) documents.
Both future spouses must be presented in person for the official marriage registration, (attendance of a representative via POA is not allowed). You can also take the surname of your spouse and officially register the same on the day of marriage.
For the marriage certificate to be valid in UAE, you must then register it in Dubai Courts.
*Please note that you must register for the submission of the application form (together with all relevant documents) online via the official website of the Russian Embassy in Dubai https://dubai.mid.ru/home. You will not be allowed to enter the Embassy without a QR code, which will be distributed through the website, this code includes the day and time of the appointment. Make sure, that you start to look for the appointment in advance (at least one month in advance or more) – the Embassy is always busy and doesn’t have many slots for appointments.
Another option, for non-Muslim passport holders, is to get married in the Christian or Catholic Church
This option will allow you to get married to any other national, assuming that at least one of you is baptized and holds a UAE residence visa.
However, religious marriage is a very long process, as, first of all, you must present your Baptism certificates one year prior to the marriage date.
You must also make sure, that the church you are choosing is recognized by Dubai courts. After you will need, as a first step, to visit the church and talk to a priest about future marriage, as each church has its own rules, but mostly the procedures are similar.
Future spouses must also visit their embassy (if you are of different nationalities, please visit the embassy of your country of origin) for consultation and confirmation of your decision to have a religious marriage, and for attestation (if you already have it) or obtaining of the original certificate of marital status. Make sure that your certificate is not out-of-date. Also, some embassies require the submission of marriage applications to the embassy at least two months before the scheduled date of the religious wedding, meaning you will need to know the date of your religious marriage in advance.
Two witnesses will be required to attend the religious marriage, these can be your relatives or friends. The witnesses must be 18 years old or older.
The general steps of marriage in the Christian Church will be pretty standard:
- As was already mentioned above, you will need to acquire a baptism certificate one year prior to the marriage date.
- Apply for the marriage by filling out the marriage application form.
- You must also submit:
- birth certificates (originals and copies),
- passports and visas (originals and copies),
- passport-size photos,
- certificate of marital status,
- confirmation that neither you nor your father is Muslim,
- final divorce papers – if you have been divorced,
- former marriage certificate (if applicable),
- the death certificate of a late spouse – if you are widowed,
- passports of two witnesses (originals and copies).
*The bride and groom must provide notarised translations into English if the original documents are in another language.
- Around 2 months prior to the marriage date, you must attend a canonical marriage in the church by paying the reservation fee. Absence from which can lead to cancellation of the reservation fee and hence it has to be paid again to reschedule the same.
- After, you must obtain the certificate of attendance of the canonical interview from the priest and get the pre-marriage seminar from the church.
- Lastly, the confession is to be done by both bride and groom which is done a week prior to the marriage.
The wedding ceremony must be conducted in the church.
Approximate fees for the wedding ceremony, in accordance with the Christ Church in Jebel Ali (Dubai), will be around AED 1,800 (on a weekday) and AED 2,300 (on a Friday).
After the ceremony, you will receive two marriage certificates, which will be signed by the chaplain and must be translated into Arabic by Dubai courts-approved translator. These documents (two original marriage certificates and the Arabic versions) should be then attested, this can be done by the church’s public relations officer or submitted to the Notary Public Office at Dubai Courts for attestation. Then, the original certificates must be authenticated by your direct embassy(s).
The next step is to attest the same certificates at the Ministry of Justice (for verification) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Finally, the certificates must be taken back to your embassy to be sealed for your country.
Islamic marriage is also an option in Dubai
As per the Sharia provisions, Islamic marriage can be conducted between couples of any nationality. The main requirements are as follows:
- Both spouses must be over 18 years old;
- The groom must be Muslim;
- The bride can be Muslim, Christian, or Jew;
- The age of one spouse cannot be more than twice that of the other(If this is the case, a judge’s consent must be obtained);
- One ofthe spouses must be a UAE residence visa
If the above requirements are all met, you can proceed with the marriage arrangements.
Islamic marriage in Dubai is conducted by Sharia courts or an authorized marriage officer (Mazoon) appointed by the Ministry of Justice. There is also an e-Marriage service system in place, which allows you to book an appointment with an authorized officer, pay the fees and reserve the intended date of marriage online.
Here is the list of documents, which will be required for the procedure:
- the bride’s and groom’s passports(originals and copies),
- passport and identification papers of the bride’s father (originals and copies),
- passports of two Muslim male witnesses who will be present at the wedding (originals and copies),
- if the bride’s father is non-Muslim a No Objection Certificate will be required from the bride’s embassy,
- proof of divorce or death certificate of former spouse (if applicable),
- if the bride’s father cannot be physically present at the wedding, he must provide a proxy,
- if the bride’s father is deceased, a certificate of death is.
*All documents must be translated into Arabic by a court-approved translator, attested by the UAE Ministry of Justice and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
It is important that both bride and groom must be present on the day of the ceremony. As well as the father of the bride must be present in person. If the bride’s father is deceased, her closest male relative (either brother or uncle) must be present.
After the marriage certificate is issued it must be registered in Sharia court, taken to the Ministry of Justice for the court Notary’s signature and seal, then taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for authentication, and finally, to the relevant embassy, so that it is legally recognized in your home country.
Dubai courts offer civil marriage services for applicants who wish to get married in Dubai courts. However, again, one of the main requirements is that one of the parties shall be a citizen or resident of the Emirate of Dubai.
Where Abu-Dhabi went forward with civil marriage procedures and created a Civil Family Court, where non-residents can get married. Tourists, residents, expats, and even Muslims (non-UAE citizens) can apply for civil marriage in Abu-Dhabi, regardless of where they live. Online application from anywhere in the world through the online portal is now put into place. The only requirement is to be physically present at the civil marriage ceremony in Abu-Dhabi, together with two witnesses.
For the marriage application to be approved the following conditions are to be met:
- both parties must provide their consent,
- both parties must be at least 18 years old,
- the parties must not be related by the first or second degree, and
- the parties must not be married to any other person (i.e. certificate of marital status will be required),
- if previously married, proof that the marriage is now dissolved (eg. divorce judgment or death certificate).
*You can see that this procedure does not require a positive pre-marital health screening certificate.
Upon submission of your application, it can take up to 10 working days for your application to be approved by the registration team. Once your application is approved and you have paid the fee, you should receive an email or telephone call from the court within 5 working days. The court will then arrange an appointment for the marriage ceremony in accordance with your preferred date and time (subject to the court’s availability). The marriage certificate will be issued at the conclusion of the ceremony.
You are also allowed to submit a marriage agreement/pre-nuptial agreement (not mandatory), this should be submitted as an attachment (supporting document) to the civil marriage application. There is an additional fee of 950 AED for the marriage agreement to be notarized.
The official ceremony takes around 15 minutes, however, the allocated time is 30 minutes. It is allowed to arrange a wedding photographer for your special day, as well as you can bring your friends.
The marriage certificate should be notarized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And you can then take it to your direct embassy for registration.
For any assistance, you can always contact Dubai or Abu-Dhabi-based family lawyers or specialists (family/marriage consultant companies) for your own comfort.
And the last but not least important note, choose your life partner wisely, and don’t forget that the divorce process is much more complicated, complex, costly, and stressful.
by Veronika Chastukhina