Me being from the United States and my wife from the Philippines, this is one experience that sparked my desire to create this site. Getting married in Kuwait as a foreigner isn’t as simple as I initially thought it would be but it is definitely doable. After scouring the internet and asking countless friends and associates, we quickly discovered there is very little definitive information available for the procedures to getting married in Kuwait. This lack of definitive information with too much information (if you’ve already started the process you can understand what I mean) will quickly find you wasting days of valuable time trying to complete something that should only take one day after you’ve gathered all the required documents. Seriously, the civil marriage actually only takes about an hour to complete, granted you have all of the right documents. Keep in mind, Kuwait tends to vary their “requirements” for things like civil marriages, so don’t be surprised if you’re at the ministry and they tell you something is missing. You must be very flexible and patient with their process. Remember, the section for marriages in the Ministry of Justice at the Ministry Complex in Kuwait City is the authority for what is required to process a civil marriage, so refrain from being argumentative when they tell you something that contradicts what another department elsewhere says. Just roll with the punches. I will lay out the basics of documents needed and where to go for authentication of those documents and the civil marriage.
Before I get into the civil marriage process in Kuwait, keep in mind the information provided in this article is based off an American getting married to a Filipina the Catholic/Christian way. As far as the Ministry’s requirements, everything should pretty much be the same. The part that will vary is how you obtain authenticated documents proving your singleness, declaring there is no legal or personal impediment preventing the bride or groom from marriage according to the regulations of their countries.
For couples of the same nationality, getting married is a much simpler process. For example, Filipino couples can get married at the Philippine Embassy. For American couples, there are less requirements for a civil marriage.
Also, if you don’t want to go through the process of gathering all the documents required for a civil marriage in Kuwait, I would suggest getting married in a church. Or as an alternative, you could take a vacation to your home country which may have less requirements for their civil marriage or religious marriage process. In both cases, all you will need to do is provide a copy of the marriage certificate with a copy translated in Arabic to the Ministry of Justice’s section that handles marriages along with copies of the bride and grooms Civil ID’s so they can register your marriage in Kuwait. Basically, you have to make a decision that best fits for your situation.
WARNING: Avoid using lawyers or “wastas” for getting married in Kuwait. The process really is not that difficult and they will charge you much more (300KD minimum) in addition to the fees required to obtain some of the documents than if you just do it yourself. You also run the risk of getting cheated by them as they have taken people’s money without providing the agreed upon service. If they do keep their promise to help you, they will just use the process that you would do yourself. So just do it yourself and save yourself the trouble of wasting time and money.
Kuwait Civil Marriage Process
*All documents should be no more than 3 months old at the time of the civil marriage
- Authenticated proof of singleness from the bride and groom’s home country
- Authenticated Non-Objection Certificate letter from the church
- Copy of bride and groom Civil IDs (front and back on same side of one paper)
- Copy of 2 male witnesses’ Civil IDs (front and back on same side of one paper)
- Two 1KD stamps for marriage certificate
All documents must be:
*1 document = original + translated copy
- Translated into Arabic by a certified Translation office
- Authenticated by Authentication office in Kuwait (5KD stamp for each document)
- Stamped by Translation department in the Ministry Complex (2KD stamp for each document)
Yep, that is all you will really need. Now where the tricky part comes in is obtaining those documents. More specifically, the requirements and process to obtain those documents. Certain countries, such as the US, does not have a document that you can simply request, pay a fee, and have them send it to you to prove your singleness. For me I completed a “Free-to-Marry Affidavit” that was notarized by the US Embassy in Kuwait via appointment. This affidavit can be found on the US Embassy’s website with instructions on filling it out as well as how to setup an appointment to have it notarized. Getting the affidavit notarized is done on the spot. Next, I had to get that Affidavit authenticated at the Department of the State, then authenticated by the Kuwait Embassy in Washington, D.C. Luckily I had a vacation planned to the states around the same time in that area so I just hand carried my affidavit to all of those places. It takes 72 hours for the Department of the State to authenticate, and five business days for the Kuwait Embassy to authenticate (you may be able to skip this step and just have it authenticated in Kuwait since they will want to put their own special stamp on it anyway but I did it just to be sure) for a total of eight business days. If it’s not possible for you to take it to the states yourself, you can mail it in which will add a considerable amount of time to the process depending on which carrier you mail it through. It has to be mailed using certified mail. Check each respective website for more details.
The Philippines is a bit different. Filipinos will need to get a CENOMAR from the Philippines proving they are single which will be used to obtain an authenticated singleness document from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait. That singleness document will be in English and Arabic. There will be no need to have this document translated elsewhere since it is already written in Arabic.
*Note: Check your home country’s resources for specific details on how to obtain and have authenticated your proof of singleness.
Similar to the singleness document, you will also need to get a Non Objection Certificate (NOC) letter from the church. The ministry calls it “singleness from the church”. Now this document caused us the most stress because the ministry, and whoever made the rules, seems to not know the difference between Christian and Catholic. From my research, this document is something more relatable to Catholicism, however Kuwait isn’t concerned with that. Luckily for us, eventually we found a priest that helped us out at the Catholic Church in Kuwait City by giving us a letter that stated the church had no attestation to our marriage. The Ministry accepted this letter. The church may require a copy of the bride and groom’s baptismal certificate, however for our situation the priest did not check ours.
The next step would be to have those documents translated in Arabic if you don’t already have a version of the document in Arabic. You can find these translation offices all throughout Kuwait, but the ones we used were in Fahaheel and Mahboula. The translation office in Mahboula is Choice Translation located near Alia Hospital. Depending on how busy they are and how many documents you need translated they have a fast turnaround. Recently, I had a 2 page document translated in about 30-45 minutes for 6KD.
*Note: Most of Kuwait’s government office hours, such as the Ministry Complex and Authentication offices, are between 8 A.M. and 12 P.M.
Once you have your authenticated proof of singleness by your home country and the letter from the church, with their Arabic translations, take those documents to one of the Authentication offices in Kuwait to have them checked and stamped. You will need to purchase a stamp from one of the kiosks located in the Authentication office for 5kd (as of October 2016). My recommendation is to go to the Authentication office in Shuwaikh. There’s also an Authentication office in Liberation Tower next to the Ministry Complex but they are more likely to give you a hard time for no legit reason. The authentication process is done on the spot but there is always a long line, expect about 30 minutes to one hour to get through the line.
After getting the documents stamped by an Authentication office, the documents will need to be stamped by the Translation department in the Ministry Complex in Kuwait City. You will need to purchase a 2KD stamp from a kiosk located on the ground floor near the Ministry of Justice for each document. The wait time is generally about 30 to 45 minutes.
Once the required documents have been translated, authenticated, and stamped by the Translation Department, you are finally ready for the civil marriage!
The Ministry of Justice in the Ministry Complex can process civil marriages Sunday through Thursday starting at 10 A.M. until close of business for the Ministry Complex. I’m not 100% sure about these times since the information I researched and what I have been told varied. Best bet is to be there at 10 A.M.
Below is a simplified layout of where you will need to go in the Ministry Complex in Kuwait City.
On the day of your civil marriage, you will take all the required documents to the ministry complex to the section for civil marriages in the Ministry of Justice. Make sure every translated document has been stamped by the Translation office in the Ministry Complex. For us the documents they kept were the letter from the church, since we are both Christian, my wife’s singleness document from the Philippine Embassy, a copy of both of our Civil ID’s, a copy of the witnesses’ Civil ID’s, and two 1KD stamps. After they verified our documents, they had us face each other and recite our vows to each other (don’t worry, they will tell you what to say). The receptionist typed up some forms for us to sign. We waited about 20 mins to have all the paperwork approved and signed by their manager, then the marriage certificates were made. Once that was completed, we signed both marriage certificates (they are identical) and were congratulated by everyone! We had been to their office several times so we were pretty much popular by this point.
There was a guy that works in the Ministry Complex that assisted us in making sure everything went smoothly. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for his contact information.
- Obtain authenticated proof of singleness from home country.
- Obtain Non Objection Certificate letter from church.
- Get non-Arabic documents translated into Arabic by a certified translation office.
- Get documents authenticated with 5KD stamp each by an Authentication office in Kuwait.
- Have required documents with 2KD stamp each stamped by Translation department in the Ministry Complex on the ground floor.
- Take required documents to the section that handles marriages in the Ministry of Justice on the ground floor with 2 male witnesses. (don’t forget copies of everyone’s Civil IDs)
- Recite vows.
- Follow their instructions for signing forms.
- Sign the marriage certificates. (2 identical copies)
- Congratulations on your marriage!
Links for more information and locations of Authentication offices and Ministry Complex coming soon.
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