Marriage in a Foreign Country

Many Israelis are not very pleased, to say the least, with the idea of marrying according to the Jewish law. Some of the couples encounter religious difficulties (not the same religion) and with some it is a matter of ideological principle. This article will discuss a different way to marry, which is becoming more popular in the last years.

How can one marry in Israel?

The Israeli law is carried out by the Rabbinic Law (marriage and divorce) 5713-1953. This law states that marriage and divorce between Jews in Israel will be conducted according to the Jewish law and that the only court that has authority to rule in these matters is the Rabbinic court.
For more information on the Rabbinic court please read our article on the subject at

From the above you can understand that a Jewish couple can marry only according to the Jewish law. But what if the couple is not recognized as Jews? Or one of the couple is not Jewish? Or Israeli Jews who do not want to marry according to the religious “archaic” law? Apparently, there is no solution for these cases. But is that so?

Is it possible to marry in a civil ceremony?

Many Israelis think that it is not possible to marry in Israel in a civil ceremony. That is why many couples seek other solutions such as: couple’s certificate, marriage agreement etc. but, the notion that one cannot marry in a civil ceremony in Israel is in correct.

It is true that there is no organized legislation in Israel in this matter but there is the option of getting married in a foreign country and then registering in the Ministry of Interior in Israel, as a married couple for all purposes. Moreover, the Supreme Court ruling determined that although the registration in the Ministry of Interior is declarative, over the years, government authorities have recognized this registration as compelling regarding the citizen’s personal situation. The Supreme Court also determined that the same applies to same-sex couples, meaning that they too can marry in a foreign country and register as married in Israel. We emphasize that the registration in the Ministry of Interior is a binding matter. There is no difference between those who were married in a foreign country, and who were married in Israel.

It is important to note that marriage in a foreign country is binding and valid only if the foreign country recognizes the marriage. That is why not every foreign county is taken into consideration for purposes of marriage. Some of the countries that Israelis do go to for marriage, which is recognized are Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Canada (these countries also recognize same-sex marriages).

What should I do after coming back to Israel?

If you have married in a foreign country you need to present the original marriage certificate and I.D. cards to the Ministry of Intern and register as a married couple. This registration will provide you with a new appendix to your I.D. card where your status will be changed from single to married.

What is the disadvantage of marriage in a foreign country?

As mentioned, it is possible to marry in a foreign country and then register in Israel a married but all this, there are still the provisions of the jurisdiction of the Rabbinic court, determining that marriage and divorce in Israel will take place according to personal-religious law. In other words, this is actually a disadvantage when the marriage takes place in a foreign country. If the future spouses seek a divorce and if they are “kosher” Jews who could have married according to religion, then they would have to divorce in the Rabbinic court. In other words, even though the couple wanted to avoid marriage according to religious law, yet the divorce will be conducted according to religious law.

If the couple could not marry in Israel according to personal-religious law (such as spouses of different religions), then they will not have a religious divorce at court, but will have to make a claim for “annulment of a marriage” at the Family Court. The latter will get the position of the relevant religious courts for the couple, in order to remove any doubt that the marriage is not recognized in any religion. If the received opinion confirms the request, only then can the Family Court order the dissolution of the marriage.

In conclusion

Civil marriage in Israel are indeed a possibility that exists. Although the civil marriage is not done in Israel, but it is a marriage conducted in a foreign country that allows Israeli couples to marry in it. The couple can then register in Israel as a married couple for all purposes. The rule also applies to same-sex couples. However, civil marriage in a foreign country “has a catch in it” for if the couple want to get a divorce, this should be done according to Jewish religious law.

Finally, we recommend you get help and guidance from a lawyer, when it comes to civil marriage.

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