Everything you need to know about marriage in Azerbaijan

28 Apr 2023·19 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Azerbaijan 01

Over 60,000 marriages are held every year in Azerbaijan. The country is largely dominated by Muslims, as over 95% of the total population is of the Islamic faith. However, Azerbaijan is referred to as a secular and not a Muslim country. The laws of the country are not governed by Islamic sharia law principles. In Azerbaijan, the only type of marriage that is legally binding is a civil marriage. Religious marriages are also quite popular in the country; however, they are not legal on their own. For a marriage to be recognized under law, a civil ceremony must be concluded before a religious one is performed. Secular marriages are also performed in the country, but they are not as common as traditional or religious marriages.

The legal age for marriage in the country is 18 years for both male and female spouses. Under a special circumstance or in an emergency, a marriage may be conducted for a person below this age, provided that there is parental consent. Most of the marriage traditions in the country are according to the customs of communities or Islam. Azerbaijani wedding ceremonies and traditions are some of the most important events in the country, and families play an active role in marriage ceremonies. Because the ceremonial rites differ from those of Western culture, wedding expenses can quickly become expensive. Marriage ceremonies and celebrations can last up to several months in the country. The rest of the article will touch on the marriage traditions in Azerbaijan as well as the costs and types of marriage. Let’s get started.

Civil marriage 

A civil marriage is the only type of marriage that is recognized and protected by law in Azerbaijan. There are no restrictions on the other types of marriages that can be performed by couples; however, a civil marriage is the most important. Without the marriage license that will be obtained after the civil marriage registration is completed, a couple cannot be recognized as being legally married in Azerbaijan. Civil marriages are conducted in the registry office by a state-authorized notary or register. Any marriage that is not performed by a registered and authorized registrar is not valid under the laws of the country. To get married in the country, there are certain documents that must be prepared by spouses to show they are fully eligible. 

The minimum legal age of 18 must be met by both spouses, and they must not currently be in a relationship or marriage with another person. Paperwork must be submitted to show there is no record of marriage for a spouse prior to their official wedding day. A public declaration of the oncoming marriage is published. This is to ensure nobody raises an objection to the marriage at home or abroad, and the publication must be out for one to two weeks before the wedding day. All the marriage documents must be submitted in person at the registrar's office as soon as they are prepared. The documents required to marry in Azerbaijan are stated below.

Required Documents

  • Both spouses must have completed an application form stating that they intend to get married to each other.
  • A valid means of identification, such as a national identity card or a passport, must be provided by both foreign and Azerbaijani spouses.
  • Both parties must provide written consent. This document must show that they entered the marriage freely and are not under any form of threat or coercion.
  • Proof of address. This applies to foreign spouses, and proof of residency must be provided to show they have been living in Azerbaijan prior to the marriage ceremony.
  • Health certificates. Both spouses must submit medical test and examination results demonstrating that they are in good health, both physically and mentally, and that they can safely marry.
  • Divorce or death certificate. Spouses who were in a previous marriage must submit paperwork to show the marriage was lawfully terminated by the death of a spouse or dissolution of the marriage.
  • Certificate of no impediment to marriage This certificate must show the civil status of the spouses to ensure that they are currently single and able to legally marry in Azerbaijan.
  • Receipt as proof of payment of all required fees

The civil marriage ceremony at the consulate takes up to a month before it is concluded, and there are questions that may be asked of the applicants depending on the consulate or registry office they are using, such as how many marriages they have entered into in the past, etc. Foreign spouses who request documents from their home country must ensure they are officially apostilled and translated into Azerbaijani or Azeri. Most people in the country do not speak English, and foreign spouses may require an interpreter during the course of the civil marriage.

Religious marriage 

Azerbaijan is dominated by Muslims. The Muslim population in the country accounts for up to 96% of the total population, with the Shia Muslim population being 65% and that of the Sunni Muslim population being a little more than 35%. Religious marriages are not legally binding in the country, and couples must first perform a civil ceremony before going ahead with a Muslim one. There are different steps involved with marriages under the Islamic faith. There is an engagement where both families meet, referred to as the Khitbah. 

If both families and spouses decide to marry, a Nikah ceremony is conducted by the imam in a mosque or at the residence of the bride’s parents. A walimah is usually held as the concluding part of the whole marriage ceremony, where various relatives and friends from both families are invited to wine and dine with the newlyweds. The newly married couples usually go for honeymoon after all the celebration cools down. 

Invalid Marriages 

There are certain conditions under which a marriage is rendered invalid in Azerbaijan. These are stated below.

  • Marriage between spouses who are related by blood, direct link, or affinity, such as siblings and adopted close relatives. This type of marriage is void.
  • Marriage between spouses who are already married is not allowed, and if such a marriage takes place, it is nullified under the laws of the country.
  • Both spouses must be of the legal age for marriage and also have the full legal capacity to conduct a marriage in Azerbaijan. If it is discovered that marriage was held between underage spouses or those who are prohibited from marrying, such a union is rendered totally invalid.
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Marriage traditions in Azerbaijan

Matchmaking (Elcilik) 

This is an ancient Azerbaijani wedding tradition that is held during the pre-wedding phase. Here, matchmakers from the groom’s family are sent to the bride's family after the groom chooses her so as to make a formal proposal and make marriage arrangements. This is an important wedding ceremony, and the matchmakers (elders in the family) must not fail because it will be humiliating for the groom’s family.

Payment of Dowry (Cehiz)

This is a tradition that is performed after matchmaking and engagement are concluded. Here, the bride’s family performs a final duty as her parents to secure her future with their future son-in-law. The groom and his family are presented with a list of all items and equipment needed in the house, such as electronic appliances and furniture, which must be provided before the marriage ceremony takes place.

The Henna Night (Xinayaxdi)

This is a marriage tradition that is still very popular in Azerbaijani weddings. Here, women gather in the bride's house to celebrate her new marriage, and beautiful henna designs are drawn on the palms and feet of the bride, who is wearing an elegant dress. This ceremonial rite is usually conducted in the evening and is beloved to ward off evil spirits and bad luck for the bride and her family.

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Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

The laws that guide marriage in Azerbaijan are not as cumbersome as many people think; they are very understandable. Marriage is a legal voluntary agreement between interested parties; therefore, the couple must have an in-depth knowledge of the institution of marriage before giving their full and free consent to marriage. Despite the fact that Muslims constitute the majority in Azerbaijan, marriage laws in the country are based on civil law rather than Islamic law. Forced marriages are strictly prohibited by the law; any marriage contracted with the use of threats or coercion would be ruled invalid, and offenders are liable to pay a fine or face imprisonment. Anyone who has reached the minimum legal age for marriage in Azerbaijan, which is 18 years for men and 17 years for women, has the right to marry. Minors would not be considered for contract marriage until parental consent is obtained. 

In the eyes of the law, only civil marriages are seen as legally binding; customary and religious marriages do not have this legal ability. Interested persons may only have a religious or customary celebration after a civil marriage in the presence of the civil registrar and two witnesses chosen by the couple have been held. If one of the couple is incapacitated mentally, he or she would be prohibited from getting married. Azerbaijan is majorly dominated by Muslims; therefore, the practice of polygamy is rampant, despite the fact that it is prohibited by law. The rate of polygamy in the country has increased significantly ever since its independence. Marriage between people who are related by blood, marriage, or adoption is not permitted; it is prohibited by law. Couples who wish to live together without officially getting married under the auspices of a de facto union are not allowed to do so. 

In Azerbaijan, homosexuality is legal, but the law does not provide protections in certain cases, such as same-sex marriages. A mandatory medical examination must be done by couples who wish to contract marriage, and a certificate from the ministry of health must be issued and submitted alongside all necessary documentation. In Azerbaijan, couples have to be single before marriage can be contracted; persons who are still legally married cannot contract a new marriage. Couples who have been previously married must present proof of the nullification of the previous marriage in the form of a certificate of divorce or a certificate of death in cases of widowhood. Documents required by the law to validate marriage must be provided and verified before marriage can be contracted in Azerbaijan.

Rights

All citizens of Azerbaijan have the right to contract marriage as soon as the minimum legal age for marriage is reached. In Azerbaijan, marriage makes provisions for equal and mutual rights between spouses, and illegal restrictions on these rights can lead to punishment under the law. As soon as marriage is contracted, the husband and wife have the right to a private family life, which is protected by the law of the country. Married couples have the right to come to a mutual agreement on the moral, social, and educational upbringing of their children. Couples have the right to protect their family against any form of illegal external interference. Couples have a right to own property either under a joint marital property regime or under a prenuptial agreement.

Deciding the moral, political, and economic inclinations of the family is a right that belongs to the husband and wife in the home. The right to make equally influential decisions concerning matters affecting the household is a right that is available to married couples in Azerbaijan. Nursing mothers or pregnant women have the right to be gainfully employed without facing any discrimination at their places of work. Only married couples have the right to bear and adopt children, whose rights would be protected by the state. Couples have the right to file for divorce on whatever grounds they choose. The right to divorce by mutual consent or for a specific reason is available to couples in Azerbaijan. Couples have the right to government assistance and social security if they have large families or if one or both of the spouses are disabled.

Costs

Marriage is an integral part of Azerbaijani society, and the cultures and traditions of marriage in Azerbaijan are all culturally linked to ancient beliefs. All the processes involved in contracting marriage are embodiments of the colorful, special, and unique Azerbaijani culture. Couples are expected to spend around $15,000 on an average Azerbaijani wedding. This price can easily increase depending on how financially stable the couple is and how grand they want the wedding to be. Extravagant weddings are also very common in Azerbaijan; families use this medium to showcase their wealth and social status.
The cost of hotel accommodations for guests ranges from $80 to $345 per night, and the venue costs around $500 to $4000, depending on the location of the event. The wedding budget comprises the cost of catering at the event, the cost of the couples' attire, the transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses. The dowry is paid by the bride, and other items are taken to the groom's house on the actual wedding day.

Duties

Marriage comes with a lot of duties and responsibilities for the couple to fulfill, and they are monitored by the state to ensure that couples effectively carry out their roles in the home. In Azerbaijan, family is considered to be the most important part of society; therefore, couples often put the needs of the family first and set aside their own needs and interests. The couple have an obligation to respect, love, and be loyal to one another. The responsibility of taking care of the home rests on the shoulders of the wife, and in many cases, the husband does not help out with the chores or in taking care of the children even when the wife is sick or pregnant. The husband only takes on the duty of being the provider and head of the home. Couples are obligated to provide assistance to any member of their nuclear or extended family that needs it. The children are a priority in any family; therefore, couples must be responsible for the health and comfort of the children as well as provide a conducive environment for their development. The children also have a responsibility to take care of their parents when they have the means to do so. The roles in the home are based on gender roles, but it takes the cooperation of the husband and wife and the children to ensure the smooth running of the household.

Conclusion 

Azerbaijan has straightforward marriage procedures that must be followed by spouses for them to be legally married in the country. The country is largely made up of people of the Muslim faith. However, the country still remains a secular country and does not give an authoritative right or power for marriage proceedings to be under the principles of the Islamic faith, or sharia.
The country has unique traditions that are performed during marriage that are not so common in other countries. Marriages such as same-sex marriages or those between multiple people are strictly prohibited in the country. This article is a well-detailed guide to everything you need to know about marriage in Azerbaijan.

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