Egyptian marriage recognised/legal outside of Egypt? Divorce needed?

Hi everyone, I really hope someone can offer some advice or point me in the right direction to where I can be advised about this.

A very long time ago, I met and fell in love with an Egyptian man. Long story short, after a long distance relationship for a few years we eventually went to Cairo with two witnesses and got married on one of my many trips there. We had two witnesses in Egypt and were given the marriage documents (in Arabic) etc.

My understanding at the time was that this marriage was only legal or recognised in Egypt, and in order for it to be recognised in the UK I would have to have the document/certificate translated and stamped and all those things, otherwise, outside of Egypt it was not recognised and I was not technically, or legally I mean, married. Luckily (and hopefully) at the time, I did not do this. I have never had the documents translated, and therefore legalised, as far as I am aware.

Fast forward a few years, and past a lot of bad stuff and betrayals that led to me ending this relationship (it ended about 2 years after we got married, and about 5 years after knowing each other), and at this point not having spoken to this person for approximately 5 years or so now, I assumed that I would not need to do anything as I am not 'married' outside of Egypt and would not need any kind of divorce. But I'm really worried this may effect me or my future, or any future relationship I may have. Maybe this is really naive of me because this happened when I was much younger and didn't know the full extent of the situation I was in, I was blindly in love, but I am really worried that is may not be the case as I was led to believe, and in order to be truly free of him, and this relationship, I need to divorce him somehow. Is this true?  However I have no contact with him, no idea where he is or how to contact him if I ever needed to regarding this and I no longer have the Arabic document/certificate we were given when we got married at the place in Cairo that was required.

So my questions and concerns are: is this marriage Legal and recognised both inside and outside of Egypt? Will it cause me any issues if I were to ever return to Egypt on holiday etc? Which I have avoided doing so since all of this was over years ago. And If the day comes that I eventually want to get married  am I considered legally married already and will need to obtain a divorce first?  If a divorce is needed, I would rather get this done so I'm truly free of this and him, sooner rather than later so if anyone is able to point in the right direction of which service I should contact for help and advice, I would really appreciate it.

Thank you so much in advance for any help and advice you can offer.

If you went to the ministry of foreign affairs and carried out the marriage contract there, it would have been a long paper with your fingerprints on it, then you are legally married and other countries recognize this. This is opposed to an orfy marriage which is not done in the ministry building and is basically just a paper to allow you to be together. It sounds like you are officially married because the orfy could have been done anywhere. You can apply for a divorce but it needs to be mutual to be quick, if he doesn't agree it can take a while, although the law has changed to assist women in divorce. Somewhere, in Arabic, on your marriage certificate will be your divorce entitlement which had to be put down as part of the marriage agreement. If you weren't involved it could have been inserted as a low sum of money. About coming back to Egypt, if your husband knows you are here and you are with another man you are breaking the law and the penalties can be high, although, given your position, I don't think it would be harshly applied. Get some legal advice and try and put it all behind you. Good luck.

Thank you so much for your reply. It was definitely at the ministry with our fingerprints, although I no longer have this document in my possession. Is there a way for me to obtain a new copy?

I was aware of the Orfy contract as we had this at first during the early parts of our relationship, before later going to Cairo to get married down the line.

I'm so glad I posted this to find out, even though it feels like I should have years ago now. It's heartbreaking to know it wasn't as easy as I assumed back then to be free of this and a divorce of course will be needed. I don't want to still be legally considered married, years later after this relationship has ended. In or out of Egypt, whether or not I ever return there one day. I'm not in a relationship with anyone right now, but one day when I am, I don't want this hanging over me like a dark cloud and causing issues so of course I want to have this resolved so I can truly feel and be free and have the past left in the past for me now.

Unfortunately, getting a mutual divorce is impossible as I blocked all contact from him and with him, quite a few years ago, and I no longer have any idea of where he is or how I could even begin to contact him or find him in order to discuss this so I will have no choice but to try and obtain a divorce another way. Can you recommend who I will need to contact for advice or legal assistance with this?

Thank you again for your time and how helpful this was.

Hello there,

I am also a UK citizen and I am due to marry my Egyptian fiancé in 2 months from now. I have been looking at all the procedures very carefully and I have also read your post with interest. Yes, it looks like you marriage is a proper legal binding marriage in Egypt. However, and as far as I know, it will not get recognised by the UK as you need to had attended the affirmation meeting at the British Embassy in Cairo. Do you recall having done this? Maybe 5 years ago the rules with the British Embassy were different ?

Also, I don't think there is any restriction on you to travel to Egypt, especially as a foreign national, nobody is going to question you at the passport control whether you are married etc. But I do recommend to get yourself a good Egyptian Lawyer, explain the situation and explore all potions on how to start divorce proceedings.

I'll speak to a friend tomorrow and see what is your best, and easiest way forward. As I said before, women now have the right to divorce without the husbands consent now. If your marriage certificate has been digitized it's quite easy to get a copy. If not, you would have to visit the ministry again a few times.

Congratulations, I hope everything goes really well for you :)

Yeah i think that's really smart to do all your research first and it's definitely something I wish I had done more of before going into this, rather than listening to what I was being told. It's only when I wrote this last night that I sat down and really thought about it all for the first time in a while, and realised just how long ago it actually was now, more than I thought initially. The 'marriage' took place over 10 years ago now, and I haven't seen or spoken to him since I ended the relationship over 7 years ago, if not a little more.

I do remember going to the ministry and having our fingerprints taken and photos attached to it.  I don't remember if we did the affirmation you mentioned however. That part I'm unsure of. And unfortunately I no longer have this so I would have to find a way to get a new certificate somehow before I can even do anything else. This is all very frustrating and upsetting, especially after all this time when I thought I was free of it and had put it all behind me, and now I realise I'm truly not, and can't yet.

But hopefully I can be sooner rather than later.

Thank you for all your help and advice. Hopefully I will be able to take care of this all here, rather than have to go there to, but if I have to at some point, then I'll have to.

Yes I wish I'd have done my research too, I only married orfi but discovered that even they hold some weight unless you yourself have a copy. My advice to anyone would be to not listen to others and to research your rights as well as the laws of the country. Marrying in Egypt is a romantic notion and it's easy to get swept away but it's definitely not something to be taken lightly, especially where kids are involved. And ALWAYS have your own copy!

As others as have suggested definitely see a reputable lawyer, one that knows what they're talking about, but in my opinion you should be ok. As you are an estranged couple, I would imagine that islamically (if he's Muslim) that would render the marriage void especially as there's been no financial support from his end.

Absolutely. A big lesson learned for sure, but I was so young at the time and wish I'd knew then, what I know now. I'll be seeking legal advice to get things moving hopefully and find out what I can do now to fully resolve this and truly be free of it all. He was/is Muslim and we've had no contact whatsover in about 7 years so hopefully that will make a difference. There has never been any kind of support financially so that isn't a factor either, and no kids or anything like that involved. Just me, wanting to be free of it and not considered still married in or out of Egypt. Thank you for your help and advice and I wish you the best of luck too :)

Thank you best of luck too, and don't hand too much money over to any lawyers maybe get connected to someone through the embassy, or get suggestions

Lets answer your question:

Before anything its important to have the document (Marriage degree, if you not its not a problem).
So lets explain:

1. is this marriage Legal and recognized both inside and outside of Egypt?
In the middle east yes, outside midd0*le east no, unless (its recorded in the Ministry of Exterior)

2. Will it cause me any issues if I were to ever return to Egypt on holiday etc?

No, unless he had issued a degree to look for you (but based on what you said he might not).

3. Which I have avoided doing so since all of this was over years ago. And If the day comes that I eventually want to get married  am I considered legally married already and will need to obtain a divorce first? 

Yes, you do (if you are in the middle East, but outside its a different story, you need to be sure no one knows, which carefully done and I do not advice.

4. If a divorce is needed, I would rather get this done so I'm truly free of this and him, sooner rather than later so if anyone is able to point in the right direction of which service I should contact for help and advice, I would really appreciate it.

Yes you will need to be in Egypt (that if he did not record it in the Ministry of Exterior), so: If he did you can obtain the document using same ID's you used to get married, and they can get your number.
If he did not record it, you will need to come to Egypt and go to the ministry and they will print you a copy based on the ID's and your name the one you used.

Thank you,
If you need more help in obtaining any of these issues please feel free to contact me.

Dr. Al

You can go to any registry office in Egypt and ask for electronic copy and pay for it.
He may divorced you and you didn't know (hi likely ) so what you need is to give his name with id copy if you have and your name.

Honestly , seems like a bunch of bullshit to me , the records in Egypt suck , the country won't say anything  about you being married and most other countries do not recognize this marriage anyways .... personally I think it's all just a ploy for you to hire a lawyer you don't  need , you don't need a divorce from a country where the man can say “I divorce you “ 3x and your divorced. 

It's over , the UK , if that's where you are , doesn't recognize the marriage , forget about it and move on

I don't know where you got your information from, but it's plain wrong. She got officially married, not one of the orfy (convenience) ones and if she wants to move on in life she should tidy this up as it is recognized outside the UK. Yes, all of us who have replied are agents for lawyers trying to rip her off, or so you seem to presume. Saying "I divorce thee" three times is part of the myth, if it was that easy no lawyers would be needed and women would not have any rights, but, guess what, they do. Probably more than western women. If you have to post can you not, at least, make it a little constructive?

More than western women , that's a joke

Thank you to everyone who has been very kind and helpful to this situation and have offered advice on what I can do now moving forward. I really appreciate it so much. I'm going to be seeking legal advice soon here (I am in the UK) to sort this all out if needed. Part of me still prays somehow that a divorce isn't needed and that somehow it's not recognised legally, but after all the advice and questions answered here I know that it is. I even did more of my own research after which has confirmed a lot of what everyone here has advised me.

From what everyone has advised me, and from what I've been able to confirm myself through and our consulate when I further looked into it after, if a marriage follows the legality needed in the country you marry, (which mine did with it being at the ministry and all that was needed for it to happen, etc) it is recognised outside of the country and over in the UK, regardless, without anything further needing to be done, from what I understood, but I still will need to clarify and make sure so I can do what is needed to have this taken care of sooner rather than later, or let it go if it's not needed.

I just ask please no arguments, even if you have a difference of opinion that's perfectly fine but I came here seeking help and advice about the reality and legality of my situation and everyone has been very sweet and helpful here. I do not believe anyone is trying to rip me or anyone else off in any way, as not once has someone asked me to take on a service they may or may not provide, and only offered help answering my concerns and questions.

But the important thing is, the people available here and who have been answering the questions I have, know the laws or legality more than I did and have kindly offered their knowledge to help answer my questions or concerns, so I'm very thankful. And now I have a better idea of what direction I need to go in and what I need to do to make sure so that either way I can truly move forward and know I'm free of a bad situation.

Please keep it kind. :)

I forgot to add, thank you so much Dr AI/ Spot Clean too. This was so very helpful and clarified a lot for me. I truly appreciate it.

I am glad you found a way forward with this and also I am glad we were able to provide some sort of info. All the best of luck.

Me too. And I really hope so, one way or another. I will have to do some further digging to clarify and make sure either way that the route I do or don't have to take is the right one, but the sooner this is over with the better.

Thank you all so much <3

Also, and I really don't want to scare off our friend here (TheLondonPen), but I would like to share my own experience with regards to the UK. I was married to a Greek citizen and my marriage was conducted in Greece back in 2002 and we moved permanently in the UK for many years and eventually we got divorced in the UK last last year. According to UK law, our marriage was always valid and has always been recognised as a legal marriage in the UK. In fact hundred of thousand British people getting married abroad as a routine and in most cases English law always recognises it as a proper legal marriage. In Egypt specifically and according to my own research, if you attended and Affirmation service in the British Embassy in Cairo (with your Egyptian man being present), then you are legally married and included in the UK. So please be careful and try to solve the issue here in the Egyptian system and just have that peace of mind that you deserve.
Also just to make it clear, I am not a lawyer or selling you any legal advice.
Again, you sound a smart girl and you will be just fine, good luck.

My pleasure