Israeli Registration of a Marriage Officiated Online–Important Update
This article addresses the registration of an online marriage. You may have seen media reports about registering marriages in Israel that were officiated online. Such marriages were first officially recognized by the Interior Ministry at the end of 2020 and represent a dramatic development in the field of family law in Israel. This precedent may offer a solution for many Israeli citizens who cannot or do not wish to get married under religious law in the Holy Land. In this article, this new legal development will be explained thoroughly by attorney Anat Levi, an expert in family law from our office.
Our office specializes in family law and representation of clients before the Interior Ministry regarding issues of registering civil marriages in Israel. Our office offers comprehensive legal advice on topics such as: arranging and officiating a civil marriage, registering it in Israel, obtaining legal status for foreign partners, and more.
2020 – the year when marriage officiated online was first registered in Israel
The year 2020 brought many difficulties in all areas of life. The Coronavirus pandemic had many financial and health-related consequences and affected each and every one of us. However, along with all the difficulties, 2020 also brought a few positive developments, one of which was announced just before the end of the year, the dramatic decision made by the Population Authority to permit Israeli registration of a civil marriage officiated online overseas without the spouses being physically present in the foreign country.
This news was first reported by the Kan Public Broadcasting Corporation on 30.12.2020 and then on several other news sites. The report was about the Population and Immigration Authority’s agreement to register the marriages of several Israeli couples which were officiated in the state of Utah, USA. The ceremonies were held through a Zoom meeting (a platform with which everyone has become familiar in the past year) and the spouses were in Israel and did not leave its borders throughout the process.
After obtaining the signed marriage certificate, these couples turned to the Population Authority for official recognition of their marriage, expressed as a change in their personal status on their Israeli ID cards. For some of the couples, their status had already been changed to “married.” However, the Minister of Internal Affairs intervened and instructed Ministry officials to postpone the process for those couples who had not yet officially registered as married. As a result, the issue is expected to reach the Supreme Court, which will rule on the question. The Attorney General was even petitioned to intervene and require the Minister of Internal Affairs to register the marriages. More developments are expected on the issue in the next few months.
On civil marriage in Israel
To understand the historic significance of the recognition of marriages officiated online, it is important to know something about the complicated issue of civil marriage in Israel. Israel does not recognize a marriage officiated on its territory but only a marriage performed under religious law. Until now, the closest thing to civil marriage in Israel was recognition of the spousal covenant, which was only relevant for a small number of couples.
Until now, Israeli couples who did not want to or could not marry under religious law but wished to be officially married generally had only two choices. The first is to officiate their marriage in another country, which allows Israelis to get married on their territory (such as Cyprus or the Czech Republic); the second is to perform the marriage in a country that allows civil marriage by proxy. Until now, in most cases, these options required at least one of the partners to leave the country. Such travel was almost completely eliminated in the last year as the coronavirus pandemic greatly limited Israeli citizens’ entrance into foreign countries.
The procedure for recognition of civil marriage in Israel
There is a set procedure for the recognition of civil marriage in Israel. By the law and Interior Ministry regulations, marriage must be registered with a public document that verifies it. Presenting official documents from a foreign country that have been authenticated (usually with an apostille stamp) is usually enough to change the personal status of the spouses from single to married.
In the case we discussed above, such documents were presented. The marriage certificates came from the United States, already verified with an apostille stamp, and this met the legal requirements for the purpose of registering the marriage. Because some of these marriages have already been registered, it seems that a precedent has been set, which will bring further developments in the future. However, an appeal on the issue is currently being heard in court, brought by couples whose marriages have not yet been registered. We continue to follow the progress on this important issue and will make sure to publish future updates.
Contact an attorney who specializes in family law and registering civil marriage with the Interior Ministry
In this article, we have explained the important developments regarding Israeli registration of a civil marriage officiated online. For more questions and assistance on specific matters related to registration of online marriage, see an expert family lawyer from our office. You can contact us at the phone numbers and email addresses below.