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Civil Marriage in Abu Dhabi: A Guide for Expats and Tourists

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, is a modern and cosmopolitan city that attracts many UAE residents (expats) and non-UAE residents (tourists) from different countries and cultures. If you are an expat or tourist wanting to get married in Abu Dhabi, you might have heard about the option of civil marriage. But what is civil marriage, and how can you apply for it? In this article, we will explain what civil marriage is, why it is an option for expats and tourists in Abu Dhabi, what the requirements and procedures are to obtain a civil marriage certificate, and what the benefits of civil marriage are over Sharia marriage in Abu Dhabi.

What is Civil Marriage?

Civil marriage is a lawful union of a man and a woman, solemnized as a civil contract. The marriage is based on secular rules and is regulated by Articles 4 and 5 of the Law No. 14 of 2021 Concerning Personal Status for non-Muslim foreigners. Civil marriage allows interfaith couples to marry as well.

Why is Civil Marriage an Option for Expats and Tourists in Abu Dhabi?

The Abu Dhabi government allows civil marriage for expats and tourists under its Law No. 14 of 2021. This law applies to both expats and tourists, provided they meet the requirements and submit the necessary documents.

The law was introduced to offer more options and flexibility for expats and tourists wanting to marry in Abu Dhabi, especially those facing difficulties or challenges under their own country’s laws or Sharia law. For instance, some countries might not recognize interreligious marriages or may impose strict conditions or restrictions on them. Similarly, Sharia law might not permit marriages between non-Muslims or between Muslims and non-Muslims or may require the conversion of one party to Islam. Civil marriage in the UAE provides a solution for such cases, as it doesn’t require any religious affiliation or approval from any religious authority.

Additionally, civil marriage is an option for Muslims who are not UAE citizens, as long as they are not already married. This means that Muslims who are expats or tourists in Abu Dhabi can also use the civil marriage service if they wish to do so.

Requirements and Fees for a Civil Marriage Certificate

  1. To apply for a civil marriage certificate, the following requirements must be met:
  • Both parties must be at least 18 years old.
  • Both parties must provide free consent.
  • Both parties must sign a declaration form confirming that they are not currently married to anyone else.


  1. The following documents must be submitted:
  • A completed and signed marriage application form.
  • Copies of the passport or Emirates ID of both parties.
  • Proof of no existing marriage for both parties.
  • A marriage agreement (optional).
  1. The fees for civil marriage are as follows:
  • The fee for a regular civil marriage is AED 300. An express marriage service is available for AED 2,500 for expedited processing or preferred date selection.
  • If a marriage agreement is desired, it must be submitted with the civil marriage application as a supplementary document. The marriage agreement requires notarization, incurring an additional cost of AED 950.

Benefits of Civil Marriage over Sharia Marriage in Abu Dhabi

 Civil marriage, based on secular rules, allows interfaith couples to marry in Abu Dhabi. Here are some benefits of civil marriage over Sharia marriage in Abu Dhabi:

  • No premarital screening or guardian’s approval is required, unlike Sharia marriage.
  • The process is faster and easier. Couples can apply online or onsite for a civil marriage and obtain a license within 24 hours without needing to visit an embassy or consulate. Only a few documents, such as passports, Emirates ID, and proof of no existing marriage, are required.
  • There is more flexibility and choice. Couples can have the laws of the country in which they were married applied to their divorce proceedings instead of Sharia, which applies only to Muslims. They can also opt for a marriage agreement specifying their rights and obligations in case of divorce or death.
  • Civil marriage provides legal recognition and protection for non-Muslim couples and their children in Abu Dhabi, facilitating inheritance, custody, and other family matters.
  • Civil marriage promotes social acceptance and integration, enabling couples to live together without fear of legal consequences or social stigma. It also fosters tolerance and diversity in UAE society.

If you are UAE expats or Tourists wishing to get married in Abu Dhabi, you may need the assistance of marriage lawyers at Dubai Court Marriage. They can help you navigate the civil marriage process, which is based on secular rules and allows interfaith marriages. They can guide you through the online or onsite application, document submission, fees payment, and approval of your civil marriage certificate. These lawyers can also advise you on the benefits of civil marriage over Sharia marriage in Abu Dhabi, providing you with more rights, freedoms, and protections in case of divorce or inheritance. Marriage lawyers at Dubai Court Marriage can streamline your civil marriage process in Abu Dhabi, making it easier and faster.


Hazim Darwish Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Hazim Darwish also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators.