A civil marriage is a lawful union of a non-Muslim man and woman, solemnized as a civil contract. The marriage is based on secular rules, and it is regulated by Articles 4 and 5 of the above law. Civil marriage allows marriage between interfaith couples too.
Who can get married under the new law?
UAE residents, tourists and visitors can apply to get married under the new law, provided that the applicants are non-Muslims, or citizens of a non-Muslim country.
What are the key legal requirements for a civil marriage?
The key legal requirements for a civil marriage are that:
the legal age of both parties should not be less than 18 years
there should be free consent of both parties
both parties should sign a declaration form, acknowledging that they are not married to anyone else at that moment.
Applicants for a civil marriage are not required to have their father’s or guardian’s approval or a premarital screening certificate.
How to apply?
You can apply online, through the Interactive Case Registration (ICR) service on the website of the Judicial Department-Abu Dhabi or onsite by visiting the Family Court building in Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi.
The following documents must be submitted:
a completed and signed marriage application form
a copy of passport, or Emirates ID (of both parties)
a proof of no record of existing marriage (for both parties)
marriage agreement (optional).
Abu Dhabi established a non-Muslim Family Court in the emirate to hear and resolve family matters involving non-Muslims.
At least one of the parties must be a resident of Dubai
The age of the couple must be at least 21 years old
The couple or their legally authorised representatives must appear in person
Original IDs are required to prove their identity details
Proof of being single must be provided.
The documents must be submitted as soft copies in PDF format.
For documents in a language other than Arabic, certified Arabic translations, stamped by Ministry of Justice in the UAE are required.
Documents issued from outside the UAE, must also be duly certified by Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the country concerned, the UAE embassy in that country, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the UAE.
In the UAE, premarital examination is a requirement for Emirati and resident couples to get married. The aim of the screening is to safeguard their health by ensuring that no potential infections will be transmitted between them.
Note: Applicants for a civil marriage are not required to have a premarital screening.
The screening includes tests for infectious diseases, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), Hepatitis B & C, syphilis and genetic diseases such as Beta-thalassemia, sickle cell anaemia and other hemoglobinopathies. It also checks for German Measles (Rubella) and blood grouping, as per Department of Health, Abu Dhabi.
You can apply online to get the service and obtain the marriage fitness certificate through the UAE government’s health facilities mentioned in the following links:
Documents required and service fees are mentioned in the service card.
Marriage grant - Encouraging Emiratis to marry Emiratis
The UAE Government aims to build and maintain a stable and consolidated Emirati family and to fortify the Emirati social and demographic structure, by encouraging Emirati men to marry Emirati women.
In this regard, the UAE established Marriage Fund under Federal Law No. 47 of 1992, complementing and integrating with the social policy set up by late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding President of the UAE.
In 2016, the entity Marriage Fund was dissolved and its scope was brought under Ministry of Community Development (MoCD). The role of Marriage Fund is with the Marriage Grant Department of MoCD.
The Marriage Grant Department in Ministry of Community Development receives marriage grant applications from UAE citizens and offers the grants to deserving Emiratis according to its set criteria.
Dubai Municipality launched the Bunyan card under the theme ‘We build happiness for a better life’ for UAE citizens aged 18 years and above. The card provides citizens with discounts and offers on furniture to meet their needs of building materials and home furnishings at reduced price, thus providing them with good financial savings.
A citizen can get the Bunyan card from Dubai Municipality centres at Al Tawar, Al Kafaf and Hatta.
Islamic marriage (Sharia marriage)
All nationals and expatriate residents can conclude their marriages in the UAE. In the UAE, Islamic marriages are conducted according to the Sharia provisions, which apply in the following cases, regardless of nationality:
where both the groom and the bride are Muslims
where the groom is Muslim and the bride is from 'Ahl Al-Kitaab'; such as Christian.
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.
Polygamy is allowed as per the UAE's law. A Muslim male may have four wives, provided he offers equal sustenance and equal treatment to all.
Key legal requirements for Muslim marriages
Here are the key legal requirements for Muslim marriages:
Marriage contract needs to be registered in a Sharia court in the UAE.
Legal age for marriage is 18 Hijri years; otherwise, the judge's approval is required.
A spouse's age should not be twice the other; otherwise, the judge's approval is sought.
A premarital screening certificate is needed.
Attendance of the couple is required.
Attendance of the bride's father or his proxy and two male Muslim witnesses are required.
For a woman to get married, she needs the consent of her guardian.
In case of father's death, the presence of the next closest male guardian i.e. closest kin such as elder brother is required.
Divorced and widowed women must produce a proof of the status.
If the bride is Muslim and her father is not, she needs a 'No Objection' letter from her embassy or consulate.
Marital screening test must be done through one of the medical centres of the:
Based on the medical screening certificate, application for marriage may be denied if one of the parties suffers from a:
genetically inherited blood disease
Entities responsible for concluding Islamic marriages
Islamic marriages are conducted by UAE Judicial departments and Sharia courts or through the services of authorised marriage officers (Mazoons) in each emirate.
Maximum dowry (Mahr) in the marriage contracts
According to Federal Law No. 21 of 1997 on Fixing the Dowry in the Contract of Marriage and Its Expenses, the advance dowry in Islamic marriage may not exceed AED 20,000 and the deferred dowry may not exceed AED 30,000.
Ministry of Justice has launched eMarriage service that lets couples wishing to get married to book an appointment with a marriage officer through an online updated database linked to the ID card system.
Both, the Judicial Department in Abu Dhabi and Dubai Courts facilitate online marriage applications and the services of marriage officers.
AED 50, 000 is the maximum dowry limit for UAE nationals. AED 20,000 is paid in advance.
National males who are members of Armed Forces or employees of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Police and wish to marry expatriates should first obtain a special permission from their employers.
Ajman nationals must obtain the approval of the Sharia Court of Ajman, if marrying a woman other than from GCC countries.
For Emirati women marrying expatriate men
When an Emirati woman wishes to marry an expatriate man, she should obtain:
consent from her parents/guardian
permit from her employer if she is working in the Armed Forces.
Note that the nationality of the Emirati woman should not have been obtained by dependency.
In addition, the prospective groom
must not be stateless
must be a legitimate resident of the UAE
must obtain a certificate of good conduct issued from the UAE.
For GCC nationals and citizens of other Islamic countries
Citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain wishing to marry a person of nationality other than theirs must obtain the approval of their respective countries.
A Yemeni woman wishing to marry a man of different nationality must obtain consent from her country.
Marriage of non-Muslims in the UAE
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.
Some countries require their citizens to file an application of intention to marry at their embassy or consulate in the UAE. You are advised to check with your embassy and proceed accordingly. The marriage must also be registered in the embassies of both partners in the UAE.