Marriage in Kuwait can be a difficult task to accomplish, leaving aside the family issues here and the normal process of “no system” to do things, people at government offices that speak English, but don’t when you need help.
Some background on our situation, I have been married to my wife for about two years now in the US, but have never been legally married in Kuwait, despite the fact that I have worked here on and off during the last two years. I do not speak with my father in law, which complicates matters in Kuwait. I have meet a few other gentlemen that are married to Kuwaiti women that expressed difficulty in getting through the legal and court system in making their marriage official in Kuwait, but they never documented it. My goal is to get through this without hiring an attorney.
First off, if you have the support of your father in law, the below does not apply to you as the process is very straight forward. However if you do not, or are curious, then read on!
Things you will need:
- Civil ID with 6 or more months of validity (both)
- Marriage document from the US
- Copies of all of the above documents
- Proof that you are Muslim
- Time and patience
- You and your wife are 21 or older
Your day will begin around 8 or 9 am at the Court Complex in Riggae, Kuwait. Refer to the map here:
They will have you go all around the building talking to people, and hope that one can help you. Eventually they will send you to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to have your marriage document stamped. Refer to the map here:
This is relatively fruitless as they will turn you away citing that there is nothing you can do. So they refer you back to the Court Complex, and you will want to talk to someone on the ground floor by the entrance there is customer service (on the right after security) as you come in. Tell them you want to “sue the country” for not letting you and your wife get married. As bad as this may sound to another American, it’s not a huge deal here (my wife had to explain this to me), they are happy to help you with this… This is where progress begins. They will refer you to someone, where you explain your situation, they will ask for proof of marriage, and proof that the husband is Muslim (Sunni or Shia). My wife and I used our marriage documents from the US. Proof that you are Muslim can be in the form of a document from the Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), I didn’t have any document from them so I used a Saudi work visa that said I was Muslim and they saw it as an “official document”. I would imagine they might accept a number of other things, but the IPC document seems like the safest bet. Once this is done you will go all over the building again, collect more stamps from the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th, floor. You will get charged 15 Kuwaiti Dinar (KD) by one gentlemen. At the end when you go to get your court date (this is computer generated from what they said), you will need to get a 5 KD revenue stamp, obtain copies of more documents that you have got stamped along with a copy of your civil ID. Once this is done, keep the documents they left you with as you will need them for the court date. Now you wait until that date… in our case its in November.
My thoughts on this. What a mess… Something such as marriage should be straight forward, regardless of parental support. Marrying a foreign man here is frowned upon and discouraged by many in Kuwait, and the “process” they have makes it more difficult for the couple. However it is not impossible, I have many female Kuwaiti friends that have spoken with me about someone special overseas they would love to marry, but don’t know where to start if they were on their own doing this. I hope that by documenting the end of my journey, I can make the lives of others easier and bring happiness to more people as my wife and I are not the first in this boat.