If you're looking to get married in KSA, here's all the information you need to know
26 September 2013| Last updated on 22 October 2018
Saudi Arabia is run by Sharia Law and it is quite strict with regards to relations between men and women. Unmarried couples are not allowed to live together or even to meet socially. Intimacy outside the marital bond is strictly prohibited as is pregnancy and the consequences for those that break this law are dire. Saudi Arabia does not recognise civil unions and homosexuality is illegal.
Marriage between expatriates in Saudi Arabia
Expats who want to get married in Saudi Arabia must contact their embassy in order to obtain the necessary information about the procedures of getting married. Most embassies in Saudi Arabia will not marry a couple because they do not have the means or facilities, however some embassies, such as the British embassy, will arrange for a marriage in the Kingdom.
The alternative for many couples is to fly to neighboring Bahrain or UAE and get married in the Embassy there if it is possible.
If the embassy agrees to perform the marriage ceremony, they will require a few certificates to prove that both parties are free to marry (a letter of No Objection or a certificate of no impendiment). This involves applying to the embassy for the letter before the marriage. Different embassies have different procedures for obtaining these letters.
SEE ALSO: Pregnancy in Saudi Arabia
Marriage at British Embassy in Riyadh
1. Marriages valid in English law may be performed by the British Consul in Riyadh if both parties to the marriage can prove that:
- One party is a British national and neither of you is Muslim.
- They have been living in Saudi Arabia. (ie employer’s letter or a bank statement)
- Both parties are over the age of 16.
- They are not within prohibited degrees of relationship to each other.
- They have legally dissolved any previous marriage to which either was a party.
- There is no other impediment to their proposed marriage in Saudi Arabia.
NB: Marriages between a British national and a non-British national are referred to London, so a date can not be fixed for the marriage until confirmation has been received that the ceremony can be performed. Marriages in the Embassy are not permitted if either party is a Muslim. The Irish authorities do not recognise consular marriages and we are therefore not able to marry couples where one party is an Irish national.
2. Documentary evidence required of each party is:
- A British passport as evidence of identity, national status and legal presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- An original full birth certificate (showing the parents' names).
- Evidence in original of any previous marriage and its termination. Evidence of the marriage itself is not required if it was terminated by one of the more usual types of divorce decree granted by a court in the United Kingdom. Where a decree of divorce or nullity was not given by a court, the marriage officer must be be satisfied that the divorce or annulment would be accepted as valid in English Law.
SEE ALSO: Childbirth in Saudi Arabia
3. Enquiries may be put to any consular officer, but formal notice of marriage can be given only to the Consul in Riyadh (or in his absence, the Acting Consul). This requires personal attendance by one of the British national parties to the proposed marriage, and they should first complete fully the enclosed sheets. Arrangements for the marriage can be discussed at the same time.
4. A formal notice of marriage will be posted in the Embassy for 14 days, giving any member of the public who knows of any impediment to the marriage the opportunity to lodge objection. If no objection is lodged, the proposed marriage may be performed at the official house of the marriage officer on any agreed day, within 3 months of the date on which notice was given.
5. The fees chargeable for a consular marriage are currently for:
- Posting Formal Notice of Marriage - £50
- Performing marriage ceremony - £150
- Issuing marriage certificate - £50
You normally have to pay fees for consular services in the local currency. You can pay by cash or credit card but not by personal cheque.
NB: A marriage solemnised by the Consul at Riyadh is as legally binding upon the parties as any marriage performed by an authorised Registrar in the United Kingdom.
For more information, please visit this website.
SEE ALSO: Laws of Saudi Arabia
Marriage to Saudi Nationals
If an expatriate wishes to marry a Saudi Woman, then he must, by law, be a Muslim or convert to Islam before the marriage. However, the same is not required of a Saudi man who wishes to marry an expatriate woman. However, the woman will be encouraged to convert to Islam before the marriage, although it is not a legal requirement.
Expatriate women who wish to marry Saudi nationals should be aware of the fact that their whole lives will change and if they are from the West, their culture will also change substantially. The most noticeable change will be with regards to their freedoms, including needing her husband’s permission to leave the country.
The woman will have to supply the following documents:
- Original copy of the Iqama (Residence Permit)
- A relations file
- A photograph