There have been some significant changes made to UAE legislation concerning marriage, divorce, and child custody as of February 1, 2023. The law currently permits non-Muslims to wed in a civil ceremony, and a recent revision now allows Dubai residents to obtain a marriage license within 24 to 48 hours.
Prior to the passage of the new law, non-Muslim couples had to choose between getting married in a religious ceremony or at their embassy or consulate. However, the new law now permits civil unions only.
Here’s everything you need to know
According to a new federal decree-law that went into effect on February 1, non-Muslim couples getting married in Dubai will be allowed to obtain their civil wedding licenses in as little as 24 hours. Emirati lawyer and legal adviser Diana Hamade, proprietor of Diana Hamade Attorneys at Law said, “the applicants can acquire a license in 24 hours if they have their paperwork in PDF format, are properly attested, and have their original IDs.”
“Dubai Courts announced the launch of the ‘Civil Marriage for Non-Muslims’ service, to regulate family matters for non-Muslim foreigners, by applying civil principles in regulating family cases, according to certain requirements,” she added.
The seven-page new Federal Personal Status Law regulates marriage, divorce, and inheritance for expatriates and non-Muslim nationals living in the United Arab Emirates. It will outline the divorce proceedings that can be started jointly or unilaterally and control the requirements for marriage, the contracting and documenting of the marriage before the courts.
The new decree-law also organizes shared custody arrangements for children and the processes for resolving financial claims after divorce. The decree-law also establishes the processes for testaments (wills), inheritance, and paternity evidence.
Legal professionals have hailed it as a positive move.
What are the requirements?
The new law governs the terms of marriage and permits non-Muslims to wed in a civil ceremony as long as certain requirements are met. These include:
- The husband and wife must both be non-Muslims in order for the contract to be valid.
- They must be at least 21 years old.
- At least one of them must reside in the Dubai emirate.
- They must demonstrate their single status.
- They must be present in person or have a representative in attendance.
Additionally, the couples will need to have their electronic paperwork translated into Arabic by a recognized organization by the UAE Ministry of Justice. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates will also need to certify these documents. Additionally, they will need their original IDs (original passport and Emirates ID).
The couple must visit one of the Dubai Courts Customer Service Centers to file their application once all the necessary paperwork is in order. Prior to the application being submitted for approval, a service charge must be paid.
The marriage application is approved by a notary public or court, who then produces a digital certificate, which could take anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. The couple can then sign the marriage license at the court to conclude the process after receiving approval.