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Getting Married In The UAE As An Expat: What You Need To Know

Posted by MIO Law Firm on Jan 4, 2018 7:31:07 PM

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Can you doting lovebirds get married in the UAE? Indeed, many UAE expats getting married find the process of getting married in the UAE as generally no more complicated than marrying in your hometown and requires a similar amount of documentation.


Marriage Under UAE Law

Under the UAE's law, marriage is the only legal bond between a man and a woman to establish a relationship and form a family. The law identifies marriage as a legal contract between a man and a woman, aimed at protecting the rights of the couple and their children.


Cohabitation and live-in relationships are prohibited for all citizens and residents regardless of their nationality or religion.


If someone suspects you and your partner are not married and lodges a complaint with the police, the police are required to investigate. A successful police prosecution under Article 356 of the UAE Penal Code may result in fines, significant legal fees, possible jail, and almost certain deportation.


Hence, for many UAE expats getting married is the safer option. Non-Muslims can conclude marriage formalities at:

  • The embassy or consulate of their country in the UAE
  • Or at a temple or a church as per their religion.


While 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.



Getting Married Under Abu Dhabi Law

Before getting married in Abu Dhabi, you and your prospective spouse must undergo a pre-marriage medical checkup at one of the healthcare centres, authorised by the Health Authority, to obtain a pre-marriage mutual check certificate. The certificate is officially a mandatory requirement for marriage in Abu Dhabi.


Marriage contracts are officially issued and registered in Abu Dhabi by the Abu Dhabi Judiciary Department (ADJD). Marriage procedures can be held inside or outside the Judiciary Department premises.


If you are planning to get married in the Judicial Department premises, you and your prospective spouse must visit the customer service counter at the marriage contracts section, with the legal guardians and witnesses and submit the required documents.


Both spouses should present themselves, along with the bride’s father and two Muslim male witnesses. In case, the bride’s father is no longer alive, relevant death certificate to be shown and presence of closest male guardian is required (example adult son, brother, uncle, cousin, nephew). If bride’s father is alive but unable to come in person, he can delegate a proxy guardian, who must be of the same religion as that of the bride’s father, to complete marriage procedures through an officially certified and attested power of attorney.


If you are planning to get married at another venue you must visit or contact the Judiciary Department to request for and book a marriage judge. All original required documents should be submitted at the appointed date. The marriage Judge will not be able to issue the marriage contract if documents are missing.


After the marriage procedures are completed, you or your spouse may visit the Judiciary Department within two to ten days to collect the marriage contract and an attested copy.


You must visit the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs (GDRFA) if you wish to change visa sponsorship status or issue a residency visa for your spouse.



Getting Married In Dubai

The process for getting married in Dubai is much the same as that for Abu Dhabi. Both the options of a religious or a civil wedding are available. Being a modern and tolerant society, they will recognize the second. Other religions are free to operate in the UAE. Most have their own websites and many share premises.


Dubai Marriage Requirements

  • Before you visit Dubai Courts, you need to register electronically through the Court’s website. Once you complete the electronic form and submit, you will receive a reference number in your email, which you should take with you on your visit to Dubai Courts
  • At least one party to the marriage contract (husband, wife or wife’s guardian) should have an employment or residence visa in Dubai. Spouses should bring their national ID and passports for proof of their identity and visa status
  • The couple should furnish a pre-marital medical certificate issued from a Dubai government hospital/government clinic to rule out diseases such as thalassemia or HIV/AIDS
  • The fee for the marriage contract at Dubai Courts varies from AED 60 to AED 500 depending on the procedures. The authorized marriage officers at Dubai Courts will advise you on this.


Civil marriages in Dubai are often carried out on the premises of foreign embassies. Contact your individual Embassy to find out what documents are required, how long the waiting period is, the number of guests that can be accommodated and the fees involved.


After the marriage ceremony, you must register your marriage through the Dubai Courts. In the case of either a church marriage or an embassy marriage, this can be done by the church or the embassy for an extra fee, typically around AED 200.


If you get married outside the UAE, you will need to have your marriage certificate officially attested by your embassy and the UAE Foreign Affairs office prior to submitting it to the Dubai Courts together with your supporting documents.



Getting Married In RAK

UAE residents regardless of their religion, nationality or background, may marry in Ras Al Khaimah by performing a marriage ceremony according to their religious affiliation. Muslim expatriates can perform the marriage ceremonies at RAK Courts or with a religious clerk at home. The marriage application along with all the necessary documents must be submitted to RAK Courts, and the marriage can be officially performed with the presence of two witnesses. The marriage certificate will be issued within a few days.


Non-Muslim residents can get married in a church, foreign embassies in the UAE, or even at home. Churches in Ras Al Khaimah may perform marriage ceremonies, but both parties have to be Christians. All marriages must be registered at the RAK Courts and the respective embassies regardless of whether it was performed at a court, church or temple.


Required Documents

  • Birth Certificates
  • Original passports and copies of the Residency Visas
  • A Marital Status Certificate stating whether the applicant is divorced, single, or widowed, attested either in the applicant’s home country (by the respective foreign ministry and the UAE consulate) or in the UAE (by the applicant’s consulate and the UAE Foreign Ministry)
  • Pre-marital Mutual Check Certificate


Requirements and Conditions

  • The bride and groom must be residents in the UAE
  • The bride or groom must have a valid UAE residency visa in the UAE
  • The other party must undergo a medical examination before their marriage
  • A spouse’s age should not exceed double of their partner. If either spouse is less than 18 years of age, approval of the Chief Justice of Personal Status Court should be obtained.


Seek Embassy Or Consulate Advice

Marriage formalities and requirements might vary from one situation to another; so the couples are advised to consult their countries' missions in the UAE to seek additional details about the necessary requirements.




Getting married in the UAE is generally no more complicated than marrying in your hometown and requires a similar amount of documentation. If your marriage has been conducted in an unusual manner in an unusual place, ensure your documents are properly attested and registered with the Court in your emirate. Finally, same-sex marriages and partnerships are absolute non-starters in the UAE for the foreseeable future.


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Topics: Getting Married in the UAE