My husband and I come from two different countries. I am from China, and he is a Christian from Lebanon. We met in the UAE and got engaged in December 2021.
Our original plan was to get married in a third country to avoid a lengthy processing time and complex documentation requirements for international couples. Fortunately for us, we got to know about the opening of the Abu Dhabi Civil Family Court.
Resolution No. 8-2022
Under Resolution No. 8-2022 issued by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the court’s new name is Civil Family Court as the service is available to everyone, including Muslims (except Emiratis).
This was early this year, in 2022. The new policy saved us the trouble of a costly trip to another country and completing the process in unfamiliar conditions.
At the time of the application process, which was in September this year, I was on a visit visa in the UAE. I had quit my previous job and was studying in the UAE – having just completed my Master’s degree, my student visa was over. I wondered if this would be an issue, as I had not yet got a job.
However, the civil marriage process was as smooth and effortless as possible for both residents and visitors. The steps were as follows:
Step 1: Download the Civil Marriage Application form
I downloaded the Civil Marriage Application from the website of the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department (ADJD). You can access this form here: https://www.adjd.gov.ae/EN/Pages/Non-MuslimFamilyCourtforms.aspx
Select the ‘Civil marriage application’.
The website will then give you access to an editable pdf form, which you can fill in online. These are the details you will need to fill in for the husband and wife to be:
- Date of birth
- Passport number
- Email address
- Phone number
You will also need to check the relevant box for your current marital status:
Next, sign the joint affidavit on the page that follows. If you have a digital signature, you can attach it to the pdf. Otherwise, you can print out the form and sign it by hand. Then scan and keep the digital copy ready for the next steps.
Step 2: Get your other documents ready
You will also need to keep digital copies of the following documents ready:
- Copy of the passport and Emirates ID (if a resident of the UAE)
- Copy of the passport (if a visitor in the UAE)
- Divorce certificate/ court judgment, in case of divorce
- Spouse’s death certificate, in case of widowhood
Step 3: Book your appointment online
You can then book an appointment for the marriage ceremony by following these steps:
1. Visit the website for ADJD’s Civil Family Court – https://www.adjd.gov.ae/EN/Pages/CivilFamilyCourt.aspx.
Here, you can select if you want to complete the service as a resident or a visitor. I selected the second option, and clicked on ‘Apply for the service’.
2. You will then be asked to log in via your UAE Pass. I logged in as a visitor on my UAE Pass. Visitors to the UAE, too, can register with the UAE Pass to access government services. To know more about how you can complete the process, click here.
3. You will then be directed to a page listing the terms and conditions for the service.
4. Scroll down and click ‘Next’. Select ‘Civil Marriage’ on the next page, and click ‘Civil Marriage Request’.
5. An application form will then drop down, which you will need to fill in, with the husband and wife’s personal information including full name, nationality, passport number, date of birth, gender, mobile number, email address and physical address.
6. Next, upload the required documents, including the Civil Marriage Application form.
7. You will then need to check a box, confirming that the information you have provided is accurate.
8. Click ‘Submit’.
It took under one hour for me to navigate the website, fill the forms and submit the application.
Step 4: Receive the approval
Our application was approved within one working day, and a link was sent to us via email to proceed to making the payment. The total cost of the process was Dh300.
Step 5: Set up a date for the ceremony
After the payment, a member of the staff contacted us within two working days to inform us about the next available time slot and we were able to choose a suitable date out of the slots available.
However, it is worth noting that due to the increased popularity of civil marriage at the Abu Dhabi family court, the available appointment date could be distant. So, it is recommended to consult with them early and plan ahead.
Then, an email was sent to us notifying us of the date, time, location, and entry requirements. These are some of the requirements that should be noted:
- For UAE residents, carry your passport or Emirates ID.
- For visitors, carry your passport.
- Dress code should be modest unrevealing attire covering the shoulders, the knees and the upper arms. Shorts, short dresses, skirts and sleeveless tops are not allowed.
- The same entry requirements apply to all guests.
Step 6: Attend the ceremony
Due to the high number of approved applicants, there may be a waiting line of couples at the court. However, comfortable seating, free beverages such as water and coffee, and snacks are provided in the waiting area.
During the ceremony, a friendly judge welcomed us and briefed us about the process. Wedding vows were played by the judge. Wedding vows are pre-recorded and are in a wide selection of languages. The couple may choose which language they prefer their wedding vows to be played in. Recording of the event is allowed upon the permission from the judge.
Once the wedding vows were played, we signed the marriage certificate and the judge congratulated us.
Immediately after the ceremony, two hard copies of the marriage certificate were handed to us.
In case you are applying for a dependent’s visa in the UAE, you would need to get this marriage certificate attested. To know more about how you can get documents attested in the UAE, read our detailed guide here.
Things to pay attention to
Here are some tips from my personal experience, which I think may help you with completing the process easily:
– The online application platform is in both Arabic and English. Select the language of your convenience.
– Fill every required field in the application form and double check the information filled in.
– The appointment date that you get for the ceremony could be distant from the time of approval. So, it is recommended to consult early and plan ahead.
– Follow the dress code.
In general, we as an international couple had a smooth and efficient application process. The friendliness and smiles of all the staff members, including the judge, certainly made our day more memorable.