Inter-faith and Civil marriage Israel

Today in Israel, only religious courts (Rabbinical courts, Sharia courts, Druze courts, and Christian courts) can register marriages under their religious rules. Based on the judiciary and marriage law, the marriage in each religious community has its own religious authority to conduct a marriage ceremony and register the marriage to which couples belong. It is not always simple, though religious courts can reject the marriage application due to not meeting the rules and regulations. (The reason for marriage application refusal could be many factors. I advise the applicant to go to the official Israeli ministry site to read all terms and conditions).

If the religious court denied the registration of the marriage, then the couple can go to the ministry of internal and file the case against the religious court’s decision, or the couple can go aboard (Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the USA, Spain, El Salvador, and the countries of the former USSR) to conduct the marriage and then the couple can go to the Israeli Ministry of Interior and apply for a naturalization procedure to obtain the status for the spouse.

But this was for people who already live in Israel and have citizenship, but cannot marry.

So many Israeli citizens (secular Israelis and non-Orthodox Jews, and other non-religious people) are maintaining relationships with people from different communities (religions) and with foreigners. But when it comes to marriages, they face many difficulties in order to perform the marriage and get legal recognition of the marriage in Israel. Israeli matrimonial law prevents them from conducting the marriage. The British implemented some provisions/ principles of matrimonial law after the formation of Israel, and the Israeli government hasn’t abolished the old law completely, which prevents citizens from the right to get married and getting status for their spouse, but the Israeli government has made some amendments over the years.

Recognition of Interfaith - civil marriage in Israel

Recognition of interfaith and civil marriage has a significant impact on secular Israelis, non-Orthodox Jews, and other non-religious people. But after many years of hearings about marriage rights in the Supreme Court of Israel, the Supreme Court made a few amendments to the matrimonial law.

  • In 1951, the Supreme Court of Israel enacted the law that marriages entered outside Israel or within Israel conducted by a rabbinical court under halakha must be recognized in Israel.

  • In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that the Ministry of the Interior must register couples who married in a civil ceremony abroad, even if one or both couples were citizens of Israel.

  • In 2006, the Supreme Court ruled that the Ministry of the Interior must register same-sex marriages if the marriage entered outside of Israel.

  • In 2010, Israel adopted the Civil Union Law for Citizens without Religious Affiliation, 2010, which allows a couple to form a civil union in Israel if both couples belong to any religion officially.

Civil marriage

Required documents

  • Original marriage certificate
  • 2 visual images of each of the couples
  • Israeli spouse ID card, passport, return visa, and exit ticket
  • Foreign spouse ID card and passport, valid for at least two years
  • Letter of explanation signed by both spouses regarding the relationship
  • Proof of correspondence (Joint photos, joint accounts, letters, rentals and ID cards, photos of recommended family members/friends)
  • If the documents are not in Hebrew, the couple must translate the documents along with an affidavit and notary
  • Additional documents would be required by the Ministry of the internal bureau if needed

Additional documents

  • Verified birth certificate of the applicant
  • public certificate, if the applicant’s name has been changed,
  • Criminal record certificate

Procedures

Israel does not recognize interfaith or civil marriages. However, Section 7 of the Citizenship Law allows foreign spouses and other non-religious couples to obtain citizenship status. The purpose of this law is to protect the unity of Israeli families and allow them to have a genuine family unit together in Israel. But the procedure of obtaining status for a spouse is difficult. The couples have to follow the naturalization process in order to get status for a spouse.

  • If the spouse lives abroad and wishes to come to Israel to live together with his/her Israeli spouse will be required to apply for an entry visa in advance before arriving in Israel,

  • If both couples (Israeli and foreign spouse) live abroad but intend to visit with him in Israel for a temporary visit, with a type B/2 tourist (up to 3 months), and do not wish to apply for foreign spouse status according to this procedure. If he/she is subsequently interested in regulating his/her status under the procedure, he/she must apply for the visa in advance after entering Israel. As stated before, the couple must follow the naturalization procedure according to section 7 of the citizenship law.

  • For non-religious couples, Israel recognizes marriages entered abroad according to the laws of another country that enclosed it.

The marriages are attended abroad – after getting the legal paper for the marriage from a foreign country which couples chose, they then notarized the marriage certificate and translated it into Hebrew along with required documents and submitted it to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. After submitting and examining the application for an entry visa, a type B/1 residence and work permit will be issued for a period of up to 6 months. The validity of the existing residence permit or work permit will be extended under the temporary order, and subject to compliance with the conditions of this procedure.

The procedure of obtaining citizenship through naturalization for a spouse would take four to five years, and at each stage of the processing of the application, certain information and documents would be required. If the applicant does not meet the requirements, the application will be rejected outright and will not be processed until such status is clarified.

If both couples are in Israel, they would be called for personal attendance of both couples in the Bureau of the Population Administration for registration of the marriage. The officer would then transfer the file to the Israeli ministry’s interior bureau. During the procedures, there will be an interview with a member of the Ministry of the Interior about the applicant’s relationship with his/her spouse. Therefore, for one minor mistake, the application can be rejected. The couple would have to wait a year to reapply for citizenship status. I strongly advise you to read the statements (eligibility and procedures rules) from the Israeli Ministry site in order to avoid application rejection. Or contact a lawyer to complete the process.