Marrying a Foreigner in Egypt: Normal Everyday Process or A Bureaucratic Nightmare?

If you spend a lot of time scrolling on TikTok, you may have come across Egyptian influencer Sarah Magdy, known for her satirical videos all about Egypt’s most hilarious, inexplainable happenings. One of her latest videos placed a lens on how hard it can be for Egyptians to marry foreigners.

As she herself is going to marry a Tunisian man, she decided to post a video all about her struggle to tie the knot with a foreigner. It turns out it is really hard to do in Egypt. Let’s break down the process:

What Are The Steps?

For an Egyptian to marry a foreigner, they both have to go to the Minister of Justice’s foreign marriage office in Downtown Cairo. That means that they have to go for a civil marriage, but it is not as simple as merely going to the office and tying the knot.

Before the couple can even head to the office, when the future foreign bride or groom arrives at Egypt’s airport, he or she first has to head to passport control to get their residence permit.

Next up is the medical checkup; this is a very well-known basic requirement for all types of marriages in Egypt. The couple would go get several medical examinations that take about an hour and include 10 tests that range from Virus C to tests of non-communicable diseases like diabetes.

Then comes a big step for the foreign future groom or bride. He or she has to get permission from their home country to get married in Egypt. For this to happen, they have to visit their country’s embassy in Egypt.

At the embassy, they need to get a “Certificate of No Impediment” for their marriage to be accepted, and that requires providing a whole bunch of personal details, including biographic data like their birth date, birthplace, job, social status, marriage status, income, religion, and so on to the ministry.

Once you have done this, the Ministry will give you an affidavit stating that you are free to marry and that the Embassy has no objection to the marriage.

Now, bear in mind that every document needed for the marriage to take place has to be validated and signed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. So you’ll need to drop the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a lot of visits before finally heading to the Minister of Justice’s foreign marriage office to tie the knot.

Once At The Foreign Marriage Office…

You’d think that you have reached the holy grail but there is much more to be done. This office is open from 9 AM to 2 PM, and you may find that a lot of couples can sit and wait for 3 to 4 hours for their turn. Even after the wait, once you head into the office, you have to provide a lot of documents.

We are talking about everything from your passport and Egyptian ID to proof of termination of your last marriage. Add to that the required presence of two male witnesses to sign the marriage documents, and if the bride is under the age of 21, she is required to be accompanied by her father, a guardian, a person in loco parentis, or a written consent from any of the above.

So, What’s The Solution?

Seeing how the process is extensive, time-consuming, and all-around overly bureaucratic, Magdy made the simple suggestion to have a way for the couple to complete all these processes in one location or to have some of these processes be done electronically.

What do you think of all this? Should foreign marriages be that bureaucratic, or should they be simplified like Magdy suggested?

WE SAID THIS: Don’t Miss…Exploring The Theme Of Marriage In This Year’s Ramadan Shows