How to get married in the UAE
Don’t panic! It’s not as difficult as you think. The rules and regulations you need to know.EDGAR staff May 10, 2015
Gents, as anyone who is already married or currently in the process of arranging a wedding will tell you, planning the damn thing is about as much fun as going 12 rounds with Floyd Mayweather - and by that we mean not only is it boring, but you're also certain to get the raw end of the deal.
So while you're probably more exited about the stag party and honeymoon rather than wading though the boring tedium of rules and regulations that form the barrier between you and your partner tying the knot, if you're planning on getting married in the UAE, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
While the following information is correct at the time of writing, changes to the law can and do happen, so it is always best to check the facts with the government and your embassy in the UAE. Here's our step-by-step guide on everything you need to know about getting married in the UAE: Marriage is a legal requirement
Before we get into the finer points of nationalities, religions and beliefs and the effect they have on the marriage procedure, it's important to note that in the UAE, legally, for couples to form a relationship, cohabit and have children together, they are required to be married.
Marriage between UAE nationals
For a wedding between Emirati nationals, all that is needed is a bride, groom, their legal guardians and two Muslim witnesses. What is more, if the groom is over 21 and earning less than AED20,000 per month he's entitled to a grant from the UAE Marriage Fund to help cover the costs of the wedding.
Marriage between an expat and a UAE national
While rules and procedures differ depending on the sex, nationality and religion of the expat, on the whole, the process of an expat marrying an Emirati is relatively simple. The only issue arises if a non-Muslim man wants to marry an Emirati woman - in this case he must convert to Islam and provide a 'good conduct' certificate from the police before any marriage can take place.
Marriage between a Muslim expat and non-Muslim expat
Muslims of any nationality can marry in the UAE at a Sharia Court and, similar to the rule for marriages between expats and Emiratis, if the bride is Muslim, the groom must convert to Islam in order to marry her. Marriage between expats of the same religion
For couples of the same religion, the process is generally straightforward. If both parties are of the same nationality, the marriage laws of their home country will be applied. However, if the bride and groom are of different nationalities yet still the same religion, the process will be different depending on the nationalities, so contact both embassies to find out how to proceed.
For Islamic marriages Same-nationality Islamic marriages require the following:
- A valid UAE residence visa
- The bride's father, guardian or representing attorney
- Two male Muslim witnesses
- Passports and copies of all parties, including guardian and witnesses
- Proof of divorce or death of previous spouse (if applicable)
- A no-objection letter from the bride's embassy in Arabic and attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (only if the bride is Muslim and her father is not)
After the ceremony has taken place and a UAE marriage licence has been received, it must be attested by the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then the national embassy of the bride and groom in order for it to be recognised in their home country. For Christian marriages
Same-nationality Christian marriages require the following:
- A valid UAE residence visa
- A certificate of no impediment to marriage issued by the bride and groom's home country's embassy
- Two witnesses
- For UK citizens, wedding banns must be posted at least three weeks in advance
- For US citizens, they must be married by a pastor
After the ceremony is finished and an English marriage certificate has been received, this needs to be translated in Arabic by a court-approved translator for the marriage to be valid in the UAE. Once translated, both documents must be submitted to the Notary Public Office and the Dubai Courts for certification. After that the certification must be authenticated by the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and, finally, returned to the home embassy of the bride and groom so the marriage is recognised in their home country.
Things to remember
- It takes at least four weeks to process all the paperwork.
- All parties concerned must have valid ID. To save time, make lots of photocopies.
- For those marrying someone without a residence visa, they will need to take a UAE medical fitness test and blood test at a Ministry of Health-affiliated medical centre prior to the wedding.
- The rules and regulations vary wildly according to nationality and religion. For the most comprehensive information, always consult your home country's embassy.