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Is Civil Marriage Recognized In The United Arab Emirates?

In a groundbreaking move in 2021, Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), introduced a new law that marked a significant shift in the region’s marriage regulations. This law introduced civil marriage, enabling individuals of diverse nationalities and faiths to marry under secular regulations. This article delves into the details of civil marriage in Abu Dhabi, outlining its significance, procedures, conditions, and the impact it has on the diverse society of the UAE.

What is Civil Marriage?

Civil marriage is a legally recognized union between two individuals, typically a man and a woman, regulated and solemnized by government authorities rather than religious institutions. In a civil marriage, the couple enters into a legal contract, gaining rights and responsibilities under secular laws related to property, inheritance, and finances.

Unlike religious ceremonies, civil marriages are conducted by government officials, adhering to the specific legal requirements of the country or jurisdiction. These unions provide a secular and inclusive option, allowing couples of diverse backgrounds and faiths to marry without religious constraints, emphasizing legal recognition and equal rights for all.

How Civil Marriage Differs from Marriage under Sharia Law

Civil marriage, as defined by Article 4 and 5 of the Civil Marriage Law No. 14 of 2021, is a legal union between a man and a woman, solemnized as a civil contract. Unlike traditional marriages governed by personal status laws, civil marriage in Abu Dhabi does not require father or guardian approval, making it a more inclusive option. Furthermore, it eliminates the need for mandatory medical tests and permits interreligious and non-resident marriages, breaking barriers and fostering cultural diversity.

Conditions for Applying for Civil Marriage

To start with the journey of civil marriage in Abu Dhabi, both parties must provide their consent, be at least 18 years old, not be related by the first or second degree, and not be married to anyone else. Additionally, at least one of them should not be a UAE national.

Remarkably, civil marriage is open to anyone, irrespective of their religion, except for UAE nationals. Application can be made through an online portal, with the choice of regular service (processed in 10 working days) or express service (processed in just 1 working day, with the ability to select the ceremony date).

Also Read : Your Guide to a Civil Wedding in Dubai for Filipinos

The Civil Marriage Ceremony

  • The civil marriage ceremony takes place at the Civil Family Court in the ADJD main court building, conveniently located in Abu Dhabi.
  • Both parties should bring their passports, and UAE residents should also carry their Emirates ID.
  • While there is no requirement to bring a witness, family and friends are welcome to attend the ceremony.
  • Couples have the option to exchange rings and say their own vows, although these practices are not mandatory.

Costs Associated With Civil Marriage

The standard civil marriage fee is 300 AED. However, for those seeking expedited services or specific dates, an express marriage service is available at a cost of AED 2,500.

Documents Required for Application

With the application, couples are required to submit copies of both parties’ passports, copies of Emirates IDs if applicable, and proof of the dissolution of any previous marriages, such as divorce judgments or death certificates.

Additionally, a marriage agreement can be submitted as a supporting document, although it is not mandatory. The fee for notarizing a marriage agreement is 950 AED.

Processing Time and Marriage Dates

Upon application submission, the process may take up to 10 working days for approval. After approval and fee payment, couples can expect to receive an email or telephone call from the court within 5 working days to arrange the marriage ceremony appointment.

Alternatively, for those who choose the express service, the application is processed within 1 working day, allowing for immediate selection of the ceremony date and time.

Marriage Ceremony Details

Marriage ceremonies under civil marriage regulations in Abu Dhabi are scheduled from Monday to Thursday between 9:00 am and 1:30 pm, and on Fridays from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. During Ramadan, timings may vary, and the court remains closed during public holidays and weekends. The court strives to conduct marriage ceremonies swiftly, typically lasting about 15 minutes. Couples are permitted to take photographs and bring along family and friends to witness the joyous occasion.

Read Also: Five requirements for Civil Marriage in Dubai under New law for Non- Muslims Expats

Legally Recognized Civil Marriages in the UAE

Yes, civil marriages conducted in Abu Dhabi, under the newly introduced law, are officially recognized in the UAE. Civil marriages are solemnized as legal unions under secular regulations, making them legally valid and binding within the country.

A civil marriage in Abu Dhabi is an official union recognized by the Court. To make it valid in your home country, it must be attested by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. If you have concerns about its recognition abroad, it is advisable to contact our marriage lawyers for guidance.

Are you looking for civil marriage services in the UAE? Our marriage lawyers are here to assist you every step of the way. At Dubai Court Marriage, we make your civil marriage process hassle-free and legally sound. Whether it’s ensuring all your documents are in order or providing proper guidance, our dedicated professionals are committed to making your special day stress-free. With our assistance, you can focus on celebrating your love while we take care of the legalities. Contact Dubai Court Marriage for more detailed information.

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.