Everything you need to know about marriage in Kazakhstan
Marriages are very important events in the lives of both Kazakhs and foreign nationals. Over 38,000 marriages are held every year in Kazakhstan, and the country recognizes both civil and religious marriages. Most of the marriages in Kazakhstan follow the traditions of the Islamic faith. The majority of the people living in the country are Muslims. A lot of foreign nationals have been getting married in Kazakhstan too, which is largely due to how easy it is to enter and leave the country. The process of becoming a resident and fulfilling marriage conditions is not a tedious one. This has amounted to the country being a destination for marriages.
The legislation in Kazakhstan is in charge of making decisions about the conditions, order, and types of marriage registration for spouses planning to get married. In the country, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 years old, unless parental consent is obtained in the case of a younger spouse. A foreign national looking to get married in Kazakhstan must ensure he or she is eligible and not prohibited from marrying in their own country. If a person is not allowed to hold a marriage in their country because of impediments such as age or the unavailability of single status, they are not allowed to marry in Kazakhstan.
As stated, civil and religious marriages are the two major forms of marriage in the country, and they are both recognized and protected under the laws of the country. Kazakhs may also hold other forms of marriage, such as secular or symbolic ceremonies. Typically, religious marriages are often mixed with traditional ceremonial rites and celebrated as one. Let’s proceed to the other major aspects of marriage in Kazakhstan.
A civil marriage is performed by a state-authorized registrar in a registry. This type of marriage is legally binding and can be performed by Kazakhs and other foreign nationals, regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Marriage registrations in the country are mostly held in the Department of Justice (civil registry office). However, citizens temporarily in a foreign country due to their job or other circumstances may perform their marriage ceremony at the consulate or embassy of Kazakhstan in such a country or during a diplomatic mission.
Certain procedures have been established by the country's legislation to guide how marriages must be performed in order for them to be legally binding. Before spouses marry in Kazakhstan, there are certain conditions that must be followed, as well as documents that are required of both spouses. Generally, the documents that native Kazakhstan nationals may be required to submit may be different from those of their foreign spouses. Couples are usually advised to contact their local registry and get informed about the necessary requirements before proceeding with marriage plans. The conditions and requirements couples must meet for marriage in Kazakhstan are stated below.
Conditions for marriage
- Both spouses must not be in a current marriage with another person. Partners must lawfully terminate their previous marriages before entering a new one, either in Kazakhstan or the home country of a foreigner.
- Marriages between close relatives are not allowed. For a marriage to take place, the two partners must not be related by any degree of consanguinity or affinity. This also applies to siblings and close relatives. Marriage between adoptive parents and their adopted children is, in fact, illegal under the country's laws.
- For two people to be married, they must have the mental capacity to do so. There must be no cases of illnesses such as mental illness or dementia, and both spouses must have been certified as being medically fit before they are permitted to marry.
The documents that must be submitted by both spouses during the marriage registration process are stated below:
- A valid identity document. This is to be provided by both spouses and can be a national ID or passport.
- A foreign spouse must submit a residence permit or proof of residency in Kazakhstan. This paperwork will show that they have been living in the country prior to the marriage ceremony.
- A single-status certificate. This document can be in the form of a court-sworn affidavit, and it must prove that neither partner is currently married.
- A divorce or death certificate. A spouse who was previously married must present either of these certificates, whether the previous marriage was held in Kazakhstan or not. A divorce certificate is to be presented to serve as evidence that a previous marriage was lawfully terminated after both parties went their separate ways. In cases where a previous spouse has died, a death certificate must be provided by the spouse intending to get married.
- Certificate of legal capacity to marry This paperwork serves as evidence that there is no impediment to the marriage. Some of the most common things that may nullify a marriage include health issues, mental health issues, forced marriages, and multiple marriage cases.
- Proof of parental consent This applies to spouses who are younger than the age of 18 and are planning to marry in Kazakhstan. A written parental or guardian consent must be provided that shows they have been granted permission to proceed with the marriage.
- All documents submitted, such as passports, divorce or death certificates, or affidavits, must be notarized and translated into Russian or Kazakh if they are in another foreign language. Documents that were requested from another country must be apostilled with an official stamp to prove they are legitimate and have been duly authorized.
Religious marriages held in Kazakhstan are recognized and protected under the laws of the country. Islam is the largest religion in the country, followed by Orthodox Christianity. About 70% of Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims, and most of the religious marriages held are under this Islamic faith. The religious form of marriage in Kazakhstan is called Neke Qiyu. Like most Muslim marriages, a religious marriage in the country is not just between the couple but also between their families. Most traditional marriages have numerous parts and ceremonial rites that are held by the bride and groom as well as their families, and the Neke Qiyu is just one of the many parts. Weddings in the country typically take a few weeks or even months to complete.
The Neke Qiyu is performed in the evening on the day the bride meets the family of the groom. Traditionally, she wears a dress with a veil for this occasion, and her face is revealed to the family during the ceremony in a ritual called betashar (revealing of the face). The bride is required to exchange pleasantries and show respect to the groom's family. After this is completed, the veil is lifted from her face, and she then receives a kiss from her mother-in-law. It is customary for the groom's mother to put a white scarf on the head of the bride to signify her marital status and officially welcome her to the family as her daughter-in-law. The families from both sides usually wine and dine together before the actual Neke Qiyu ceremony is performed.
The ceremony is performed by a teacher of Islam (Mullah) who is capable of reciting the Quran. This type of ceremony is typically held in private spaces with only immediate family and close relatives present. During the course of the ceremony, the bride and groom as well as the mullah sit facing each other, where some Quran verses are recited by the mullah and the couple confesses their Islamic faith to each other. This is often concluded with the registration of the marriage.
Marriage between two people of the same sex is legal in Kazakhstan; however, same-sex couples may face some legal challenges that are not experienced by those in opposite-sex marriages. Same-sex marriage is recognized in the country, but it does not hold the same legal protections as other marriages. Furthermore, same-sex unions or partnerships are not recognized in the country, and for two people to cohabit and declare themselves wife and husband, they must be officially married in a civil ceremony.
Polygamy in Kazakhstan
Polygamous marriages are recognized under the laws of Kazakhstan. The practice was decriminalized in 1998, and polygyny is generally accepted. However, the population still remains divided in this regard. People who are freely allowed to practice polygamy in the country are Muslims. This is because under Islamic laws and principles, polygamy is allowed. A man may take up to two wives or more and live with them all at once. Whereas, a woman may only have one husband, and under the Islamic faith, she is not permitted to marry multiple men.
Kazakhstan Marriage Traditions
There are various customs and traditions that are practiced during marriage ceremonies in Kazakhstan that are unique to the Kazakhs. Some of the popular traditions in the country are listed below.
This is a general tradition that is unique to the Kazakhs. It refers to the giving of a gift to a person as a way of congratulating him or her on a life achievement. This is usually presented to a man, and the tradition is held when the bride is revealed to the man for the first time. This may happen during the engagement ceremony, when both families get to meet each other.
This is a popular ceremonial rite performed during the wedding ceremony. Here, the veil is lifted from the face of the bride. The mullah has to perform a made-up song where he mentions and honors the relatives of the groom. Every time a name is mentioned, the wife has to bow as a sign of respect to them. After this custom is completed, the mother of the groom then lifts the veil from the head of the bride.
This tradition refers to the wedding ceremony held at the house of the bride and her family. This type of ceremony is usually private, and only members of the respective families are often present to celebrate with the couple. The groom and bride are both dressed in extravagant attire that makes them easily stand out from the crowd, and up to five relatives from the groom’s family may be present during the ceremony. It is customary for the bride to wear an expensive headdress called a saukele, and this ceremony is often used to celebrate the departure of the bride from her family and also as a way of welcoming her into the family of her husband. The girl often says goodbye to her family and sings a farewell song to them. She must not look back when taking her leave after the ceremony is completed. This tradition has been in existence since ancient times but is not very popular in Kazakhstan marriage ceremonies anymore. Although many Kazakhs still participate in this tradition, especially those in rural communities,
Marriage Laws and Rights: Costs and Duties
Laws and Rights
Marriage between two people who are related as siblings, parents, or close relatives is prohibited under the laws of Kazakhstan. If a person marries a spouse to whom they are related, the marriage is null and void. Underage marriages are also prohibited in the country. Spouses must have reached the minimum legal age to get married in the country, which is 18 years, except where parental consent that states otherwise is provided. Both the husband and wife in a marriage share equal rights, and a marriage must be freely consensual between the parties involved. Marriages must not be forced by coercion or threats, and marriages must not be held by people who do not have the legal capacity to do so. Cohabitation or de facto relationships are not recognized by law as marriage in the country.
The exercise of marriage and family rights must not violate the legal interests or freedom of other members of the family. Under the laws of Kazakhstan, spouses have equal rights and obligations. A man and a woman in a relationship have the freedom to choose their own business occupation or profession, as long as it is legal in the country. Both spouses have the right to dissolve a marriage upon mutual division.
The cost of a Kazakhstan marriage largely depends on the preferences of the couple. A wedding can cost up to $7,000 or more, depending on the number of guests attending the ceremony as well as the traditional rites that are involved in the ceremony. The major expenses involved in Kazakhstan weddings include transportation, photography, decoration, and catering. Food plays a major part in wedding ceremonies, and the amount that will be spent on food and drinks is based on how many guests are present at the wedding reception. Once the cost of the rings and other presents and gifts during the pre-wedding ceremonies come into play, the marriage cost can go up even more.
The husband and wife in a marriage have equal duties and obligations they owe to each other. Both partners must respect and honor each other. They have an obligation to stay faithful to their partner and to also love and provide the support they may require. The husband and wife also have a duty to take care of their children by providing the basic necessities (food, clothing, and shelter) for them as well as a good education. Mutual decisions are paramount in marriages. The husband and wife are supposed to come together to make decisions that will affect them and the rest of the family at large. They have an obligation to sort out all the responsibilities so they know what each of them is supposed to do in the marriage. This includes matters relating to the finances or maintenance of properties and the family in general.
Kazakhstan is primarily comprised of Sunni Muslims, and so most marriages held in the country are either Muslim religious marriages or civil marriages. The traditions of the Sunni Muslims are in line with Islamic laws and customs, and Muslim marriages in the country are also guided by these laws. Spouses must have met the legal minimum age of 18 before they get married, unless parental consent has been provided to permit such a younger spouse to marry. Under the Islamic faith in Kazakhstan, the marriage between a Muslim man and a non-Muslim woman is traditionally discouraged, and that of a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim woman was forbidden in the old days and is still frowned upon today.
Both monogamous and polygamous marriages are practiced in the country; however, polygamy is restricted for Muslims based on their Islamic beliefs. Under the law, marriage between multiple partners is not recognized or protected; however, it is not perceived as a crime. Muslim men may take more than one wife, provided that they treat them equally and fairly. All formal marriage processes in a Muslim marriage are overseen by a Mullah, and traditional marriages usually involve a lot of singing, dancing, and banquets. This article includes all you need to know about marriage in Kazakhstan.
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