Types of Marriage in Dubai

Details of Islamic, Christian and Hindu wedding ceremonies and the documentation needed...

Only religious (Muslim, Christian or Hindu) weddings are legal in Dubai; civil unions do not exist within Dubai law.

Islamic Marriages

This is the simplest marriage. Men must be Muslim but women can be Muslim, Christian or Jewish, although she is strongly advised to convert to Islam. Expatriates must have a residence visa; if one of the couple is on a visit visa they must undergo a medical examination in Dubai before the marriage can take place.

The marriage is performed at the Marriage section of the Dubai Court (Sharia Court) (under "public e-services" then "Nuptial contracts") which covers personal affairs. No appointment is needed and the procedure takes about ten minutes.

The bride, bridegroom, bride's father (or his representative or the bride's legal guardian) must be present. Two male Muslim witnesses must also be present.

Documentation

The following documents are required on the day of the marriage:

  • The bride's and bridegroom's passports, with copies, and identity documents of the guardian and witnesses
  • A UAE nationality document for the bridegroom, if the bride is an Emirati national
  • A medical examination certificate from a Dubai hospital, stating that parties are free of infectious diseases
  • If the bride's father is dead, a certificate of death or Sharia declaration of his death, made by the bride
  • If the bride is divorced or widowed, a decree absolute or certificate of her former husband's death, or other proof. If the divorce was granted by a court, the bride must prove that the divorce is final
  • If the bride is Muslim and her guardian is non-Muslim, a letter from her embassy or consulate stating that they do not object to the marriage. The letter must also state the bride's marital status and the name of the groom
  • The processing fee for the marriage certificate (currently 50 UAE Dhms)

Note: All documents must be translated into Arabic by a court-approved translator (a list is available on the Dubai Courts website). The translation must be attested by the UAE Ministry of Justice and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Authentication of the marriage certificate

The authentication of the marriage may involve several steps:

  • The judge examines the documents and if they are in order, he declares the marriage valid; the bride and groom then pay the processing fee and receive their marriage certificate
  • The couple then takes the certificate to the Ministry of Justice, where the signature and court Notary's seal is authenticated
  • If they are foreign, they must then take the documents to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which authenticates the Ministry of Justice's seal
  • They may then finally need to have the seal of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs authenticated by their embassy so that it is legally recognised in their own country. Each embassy can confirm whether this is necessary
Christian Marriages

Anglican Marriages

Anglican wedding ceremonies can take place at the Holy Trinity Church, at the Christ Church in Jebel Ali or St Martin's Church in Sharjah. These are recognised by the UAE government. Ministers from the Anglican Church will also marry people at other locations. The future bride and groom are advised to inform their embassy of their decision to marry. In some cases, a Notice of Marriage will be displayed in the embassy.

To marry at an Anglican church, neither the bride or groom can be Muslim, both must be over 18 and one of the partners must be resident in Dubai.

Basic documentation includes:

  • Proof that the parties are free to marry. For Anglicans this is a letter for each party stating they are "Single, Unmarried and Has Never Been Married", attested by the home country's embassy(s)
  • If either party has been divorced or widowed the decree absolute or death certificate of the former spouse
  • Copies of the bride's and bridegroom's passports or national identity documents
  • Passport-size photographs of each
  • A baptism certificate is required as well as a declaration that the parties are not Muslim
  • Residency permit of one of the partners

Note: all documents must be original. The bride and groom must provide notarised translations into English if the original documents are in another language.

The couple then need to fill in an Intent of Marriage Form.

Roman Catholic Marriages

Roman Catholic marriages can take place at St Mary's Church. The future bride and groom are advised to inform their embassy of their decision to marry. In some cases, a Notice of Marriage will be displayed in the embassy.

To marry in a Roman Catholic church, at least one of the partners must be Roman Catholic, and one of them must be resident in Dubai. Women must be at least 18, men must be over 21.

Basic documentation required:

  • Proof that the parties are free to marry. For Catholics, this is a No Objection Letter from the home country parish priest
  • If either party has been divorced or widowed, a decree absolute or death certificate of the former spouse
  • Copies of the bride's and bridegroom's passports or national identity documents
  • If one of the partners is not Catholic, they must provide a birth certificate and a letter from the embassy stating that they are free to marry
  • Passport-size photographs of each.
  • Baptism certificates
  • A residence permit for one of the couple
  • Under 21s must have a letter of consent from their parents
  • Two witnesses aged over 18 must attend the wedding

The declaration of Intent to Marry will then be posted on the church notice board for three weeks.

Note: all documents must be original. The bride and groom must provide notarised translations into English if the original documents are in another language.

Procedure for Anglican and Roman Catholic Marriages

The procedure varies from church to church and can take between one and two months after the Declaration of Intent to Marry before the marriage can actually take place; each church can give full details of their requirements.

The couple must meet the minister or priest to discuss the marriage. If they can marry in that church, they then set a date.

Some churches, including the Catholic Church, will require the couple to attend pre-marriage counselling. Some churches also have a waiting period between the request for the wedding and the ceremony when the wedding is advertised.

After the ceremony, the couple must both sign the church's wedding register.

Authentication of the marriage certificate

Once the groom and bride have signed the wedding register, the church gives them a marriage certificate. The couple must have this translated into Arabic by a court-approved translator (a list is available on the Dubai courts website).  Translation fees range from between 40 to 50 UAE Dhms.

They then need to take the original certificate and translation to the Notary Public office at the Dubai courts, which certifies the documents for a fee (currently 80 UAE Dhms).

Once certified by the courts, the documents are taken to the bride and grooms' embassy(s) to be authenticated. These copies are then taken to the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the copies authenticated by the UAE Ministry of Justice. Finally, the documents are taken back to the bride and grooms' embassy(s) to have the certificates sealed for their country(s).

  • Full details are on the website of the Dubai Courts in the list of notary public services: Click here
Hindu Marriages

This procedure is for Indian citizens only. The marriage is conducted at the Hindu temple by the Maharaj, which is run together with the Indian consulate. Marriages performed here are recognised by the UAE.

  • For a list of Hindu temples in Dubai: Click here

Both parties must be Hindu and both must be resident in Dubai.

The documentation required is:

  • Completed application forms
  • The bride's and bridegroom's passports with photocopies
  • Passports and photocopies for the parents of the bride and the bridegroom
  • An affidavit from the Indian Embassy that both parties are free to marry. This must be attested

The couple must submit all documents to the Hindu Temple's Marriage Committee for approval. This decision takes one week. Upon approval, the couple sets a date for the ceremony in coordination with the temple and the Maharaj of their choice.

Authentification of the marriage certificate

After the marriage ceremony the temple gives the couple a marriage certificate. The couple must have this translated into Arabic by a court-approved translator (a list is available on the Dubai courts website).

They then need to take the original certificate and translation to the Notary Public office at the Dubai courts, which certifies the documents for a fee (currently AED 80).

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