This can be an exciting time for the two of you if you've just set a date for your wedding and want to get married in Lebanon!
Don't let the marriage license laws of Lebanon put a dent in your wedding plans. Here's what you need to know and what documents to bring with you before you apply for a Lebanon marriage license. It's best to get this legal aspect of your wedding out of the way at least 9 weeks before your wedding date and to make sure that you understand the requirements and marriage regulations. Requirements may vary as each locale in Lebanon could have their own requirements.
Lebanon does not have civil marriage. All marriages must be registered with the Vital Statistics Bureau.
"All marriages in Lebanon are performed by a religious authority and are registered in the husband's jurisdiction of birth. Those wishing to have a civil marriage must marry outside the country. In cases of interfaith relationships, either partner can convert to the faith of the other for the purpose of marriage."
Source: Embassy of the United States: Beirut, Lebanon.
"Although there is not a system for civil marriage in Lebanon, a civil marriage of a couple married outside Lebanon is recognized by the Lebanese authorities on the condition that the marriage should be officially registered in the Lebanese Embassy or Consulate in the country where it took place."
Source: Research Directorate, 2007.
Marriage between Muslims and Christians is discouraged. However, if a mixed-faith couple marries in another country, their marriage will be recognized as valid in Lebanon.
"Unless one of them converts, they cannot wed in Lebanon. Civil marriage is not recognized here – unless it is performed abroad. Personal status laws are governed by each religious community, which jealously guard this prerogative as a source of power. So inequalities and anomalies abound."
Source: Alistair Lyon. "Lebanese lovers escape sectarian strait-jacket." Reuters Blogs. 12/15/2008.
"But mixed-religion marriages are largely frowned on by society. The law also presents mixed-religion couples with immense hurdles, beginning with the marriage ceremony itself which, as civil marriage ceremonies are impossible, have to take place abroad (mostly in Cyprus) and continuing with divorce, custody and inheritance laws. Because the laws governing married status and inheritance are completely different for Muslims, Christians and Druze, after a while some spouses convert for purely pragmatic reasons."
Source: "Confessionalism as a Phase-Out Model." 2008.
- The Druze community forbids the wedding of a Druze with a non-Druze.
- A Sunni or Shia Muslim man can marry a Christian or Jewish woman without her having to convert herself, but a Muslim woman cannot marry a Christian or a Jew.
- Catholic men can get permission to marry a Muslim woman and the couple receives the blessing at the sacristy, but the spouse must not try to turn her husband away from Catholicism, and the children must be baptized and raised as Catholics (children are always given, by law, the father's religion -- but I know of people who asked otherwise).
- The Orthodox church doesn't allow wedding with Muslims unless they convert.
- In the Israelite community, there can be no wedding if both parties are not Jewish.
Source: Joumana Medlej. "A Lebanese Wedding." Cedarseed.com. 2002.
Make sure that you have with you your passport or a government-issued ID. We also recommend that you have your original birth certificates and baptismal certificates. Some wedding planning websites recommend having two notarized copies of your birth certificates with you. Requirements can change, so it is important that you verify with local authorities what documentation you need to have with you.
You do not have to be a resident of Lebanon to get married there.
If your spouse died, you need to provide a certified, notarized copy of the death certificate. If you are divorced, you need to provide a certified, notarized copy of your final decree of divorce.
In Lebanon, the age of capacity is 18 years for men and 17 for women. With guardian permission, the ages are 17 for males and 9 for women. For Shi'a, with judicial permission, 15 for males, and 9 for females. For Druze, with judicial permission, 16 for males and 15 for females. This can vary due to differences in religion-based laws.
Example: "On 15 March 2005, a representative from the Embassy of Lebanon in Ottawa provided the following information during a telephone interview. A Shiite Lebanese man can marry a Sunni Palestinian woman without any problems in Lebanon, even though the woman is not Lebanese. For this marriage to be recognized, two male witnesses (who are not necessarily related to the couple) and a religious authority (a sheik in this case) must be present. If the parents do not approve of the marriage, the couple can still marry as long as the woman is at least 18 and has already been married and divorced. A woman who is over 18 and who is getting married for the first time must obtain the authorization of a male relative. The representative also said that there are no temporary marriages in Lebanon because all of the marriages are performed by religious authorities before they are registered with the government, which renders the marriage religiously and legally valid."
Source: Research Directorate.
PLEASE NOTE: Marriage license requirements often change. The above information is for guidance only and should not be regarded as legal advice. It is important that you verify all information with the local marriage license office before making any wedding or travel plans.