How to get married in Cyprus – everything you wanted to know about civil marriage in Cyprus
As you may know, marriage in Israel is only allowed between members of the same faith and according to religious law. Cyprus, which allows civil marriage on its territory, is an attractive marriage destination for many Israelis due to its proximity to Israel, low prices, and the relatively simple procedure required for finalizing a marriage conducted there. Accordingly, many Israelis who wish to marry foreign citizens turn to civil marriage in Cyprus. How does a couple get married in Cyprus and what is required for civil marriage there in terms of documentation and registration? That will be explained in this article by attorney Michael Decker from our law offices.
Immigration experts from our law offices are glad to offer legal advice and assistance on the topic of obtaining legal status in Israel. Our firm often assists couples wishing to get married in Cyprus. Our lawyers accompany foreign citizens married to Israelis through the process of immigration and becoming citizens in Israel.
Civil marriage in Cyprus – for whom is it relevant?
Israeli law states that marriage between Jews in Israel can only be carried out according to Jewish law, under the authority of the rabbinical courts. Similar rules apply to Christians and Muslims who are Israeli citizens or residents. Therefore, there is no legally valid civil marriage in Israel, and such marriages will not be registered in the Interior Ministry. However, many Israelis cannot or do not want to get married under religious law, for various reasons. They may wish to be wed in a civil ceremony, or mixed couples (of different faiths) who cannot get married in Israel.
Cyprus, which permits civil marriage on its territory, has become a preferred destination for Israeli couples wishing to be wed in a civil marriage. As the closest country to Israel that allows civil marriage, Cyprus attracts thousands of couples every year who wish to have a civil marriage ceremony. These couples include Israelis who do not identify with any religion, and mixed-faith couples. Following a wedding in Cyprus, it is generally possible to register the marriage in Israel.
What is required for civil marriage in Cyprus?
Marriage in Cyprus is arranged through the local authorities, and rules in each municipality may differ. In any event, there are two tracks for civil marriage in Cyprus: regular and accelerated. The regular track is cheaper, but requires a longer waiting period.
For the purpose of the marriage, the couple must:
- Come equipped with passports of their country of origin; valid for at least half a year from the date of marriage
- Present confirmation in Cyprus that they are unmarried. A certificate can be procured at no cost by filing an online request with the Interior Ministry.
- Present birth certificates
- For spouses who were previously divorced or widowed – provide a divorce certificate or death certificate of the previous spouse, accordingly.
- Have all documents translated via notary translation, and verified with an apostille stamp.
Note that there is a common technical issue regarding the certificate of unmarried status; couples only procure one copy of each certificate, which they present in Cyprus for the purpose of the marriage. However, a copy of this certificate is required again when registering the marriage in Israel. The ideal solution to this problem is to make several original copies of each document. This is explained further in another article on our site.
What can be done when there is fear of being refused entrance upon return to Israel from Cyprus?
In more than a few cases, mostly regarding foreign spouses of Israelis whose Israeli visa does not allow them to leave and return to Israel, there is a fear of being refused entrance to Israel upon return from Cyprus. There are several possible solutions in such cases.
One possible solution is to request an inter-visa, which enables the bearer to leave Israel and then return. In cases where the Israeli spouse’s exit from Israel is being held up, it is possible to request a permit to leave the country. It is sometimes possible to receive permission based on a deposit, or on some other means that guarantees the couple’s return to Israel after the wedding. In cases where the above solutions are not relevant, a couple may consider the option of a proxy marriage, which is marriage without the presence of one of the spouses or even both of them. Another article on our site goes into this issue in detail.
Contact an attorney who specializes in immigration law and obtaining legal status in Israel
In this article we have explained briefly how to get married in Cyprus and why marriage in Cyprus is a solution for many Israelis who want a civil marriage. If you have additional questions or are seeking assistance with the process of marriage in Cyprus, we will be glad to help. Our law offices in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv have experience representing many couples in the process of obtaining legal status in Israel.