Explained: How unmarried women can apply for newborn birth certificate in Abu Dhabi

The scheme applies to non-Muslim expats and unmarried Muslims from non-Muslim countries


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Tue 8 Mar 2022, 5:17 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 May 2024, 3:02 PM

Unmarried non-Muslim expats and unmarried Muslims from non-Muslim countries in Abu Dhabi can now get a birth certificate issued for their child through a quick and straight-forward process, a legal expert has said.

Declaration of parentage and a court order through the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department is all it takes for the couple to obtain the child’s birth certificate under Abu Dhabi’s new secular family law

Legal reforms announced by the UAE government in 2020 had decriminalised cohabitation of unmarried couples. The legal status of a child born out of wedlock had however remained unclear.

Hesham Elrafei, a legal expert in Abu Dhabi, explained that for the first time in the region, Abu Dhabi had in 2019 introduced a new scheme allowing parents to register a baby born out of wedlock or whose parents don't have marriage documents to support their marital status.

The new secular family law, which was implemented in February this year, adopted the same provision, and it has now become a fundamental right to issue a birth certificate regardless of whether the parents are married or not, he said.

"Previously, Sharia rules applied to expats as it posed problems for unmarried couples when they have a baby. Under Sharia, a baby born outside of marriage has no right to be registered under his father's name," Elrafei explained to Khaleej Times.

"The new law abolished all this as it looks at the matter from a human rights perspective."

According to the legal expert, the law takes a liberal approach to personal freedom, not only with the freedom to marriage, divorce, and inheritance, but also freedom of couples to register their baby regardless of how and when the mother got pregnant.

He also added that registry of birth is a universal human right as expressly referred to in the UN convention on the child's rights in article 7.

"This unprecedented move puts Abu Dhabi as one of the most liberal and modern cities to live in the region. It shows how the UAE Capital looks at personal freedom, and it reflects the leadership progressive view," said Elrafei.

He explained that in other jurisdictions in the region, Sharia law does not recognise a birth outside of marriage or interfaith marriage.

"As a result, the court will not only reject to issue a birth certificate for the new baby born out of adultery, but it will also order the annulment of the interfaith marriage," he said, adding that Abu Dhabi made history by being the first and only city in the region to regulate this social problem in a progressive manner.

The legal expert says Abu Dhabi is not only the safest city in the world but also has the most progressive and liberal family laws in the region, which is crucial for expats who want to live in a modern society.


How to apply for the child's birth certificate

Elrafei explains that a couple without a marriage certificate must apply for permission to obtain the child's birth certificate through a court order to address the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi.

He says that the process is straightforward, saves time and money, and does not require a lawyer or legal knowledge.

— The couple simply needs to fill in the bilingual (Arabic and English) application form. (Basically, the parents' details and details of the baby) through the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department's website.

— Parents need sign a declaration at the end of the application form that the baby belongs to both of them.

Required documents:

— Birth notification

— Copy of father's Emirates ID and Passport

"In most cases, they will get the court order the next day. The court order goes to the Department of Health ordering them to issue the birth certificate for the child," said Elrafei.

"The new law makes it easy now to get the court order within 24 hours. This process also applies to interfaith marriages such as a Muslim woman married to non-Muslim."

For more information, contact nonmuslimfamilycourt@adjd.gov.ae

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