UAE starts issuing birth certificates to children with unknown fathers

The new law, which came into effect in October, recognises children's right to get birth certificates in the absence of their father


Ismail Sebugwaawo

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Published: Wed 2 Nov 2022, 10:43 AM

Last updated: Wed 2 Nov 2022, 4:48 PM

Birth certificates can now be issued to children whose fathers are unknown, following the implementation of the new UAE law.

The new federal law was issued by the President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, under decree number 10-2022 regulating the registry of birth and death in the UAE.

The law, which came into effect in October, recognises children's right to get birth certificates regardless of the marital status of their parents and whether their father is known or not.

Mothers can now register these kids by submitting their papers to judicial authorities. A legal expert shared a form that has now been made available in Abu Dhabi:

Under Article 11 of the law, all mothers have to do is declare that they are the mother of the baby and submit the request to the court, according to Hesham Elrafei, a legal expert in the UAE.

"The court will issue the order within a few days to the department of health to issue the birth certificate," he added.

Based on the two-page birth registration form from the Abu Dhabi Judicial Department, the mother just has to provide two required documents: Birth notification and the copy of her Emirates ID or passport.

On the second page of the court order request, the mother also has to identify why she is making the application:

Elrafei said the new birth registry regulation law can be considered a "major legal development in the history of the Arab region".

"It is the first time an Arab country recognised a single mother’s right to register her baby if the father is unknown," he said.

“The laws in the UAE are issued to make people happy and to make life easier both for the economy and the individual. From civil marriage law to no-fault divorce, to golden visa, you don't find this elsewhere in the region."

Marriage no longer a requirement

Elrafei pointed out that the law does not look at how the baby was born, or whether his parents were married.

“The law simplifies the registration of births and adopts a liberal and progressive approach by simply saying that children must be registered when they are born. A child has the right to his own identity, the right to best healthcare possible, the right to education,” he said.

Under Article 7 of the law, marriage is no longer a requirement to register a child. This was implemented in Abu Dhabi in 2020 and later in the Civil Marriage Law in 2021.

It is also noticeable that the law used the terms “ mother” and “father” and not “husband” and “wife”, according to the expert.

“This is still a problem in other Sharia-based jurisdictions in the region, where a baby born out of wedlock to a known or unknown father is denied a birth certificate and will live as an undocumented child. As a result, this baby does not exist before the law, which means he will be deprived of the right to education, medical care, and travel,” Elrafei said.

Abu Dhabi had earlier this year implemented the new family law, which regulates personal status matters for foreigners, including civil marriage, divorce, joint child custody, and financial rights. It applies to all expats, non-residents and tourists regardless of their religions — as long as their home country does not apply the Sharia law on family matters.

The secular law doesn't apply to Muslims from the GCC, Arab nations and other countries, such as Pakistan, where the Sharia law is applied.

Under the new civil marriage scheme, the secular law allows expats, tourists and non-residents to marry in Abu Dhabi. The service is provided only by the UAE Capital and is available exclusively in the region. It gives tourists a chance to get civil marriage certificates.


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