Everything you need to know about marriage in Mozambique

13 Jun 2023·23 min to read
Articles
Everything you need to know about marriage in Mozambique 01

Mozambique is a southern African country popular for its beautiful beaches and traditional music. The country has a diverse and rich cultural heritage with a wide range of ethnicities and religious beliefs. Both Mozambicans and foreigners from other countries are allowed to perform marriages in Mozambique. There are several options for couples looking to marry in the country. The four major types of marriages in Mozambique are civil, religious, traditional, and common-law marriages. These marriages are performed in different ways; however, they are all recognized under the laws of the country. When it comes to visiting other countries in Africa and the rest of the world, all these marriages may not hold legal validity. In other countries, the most easily recognized form of marriage is a civil marriage. 

There are various marriage conditions that must be met before a marriage is performed in the country. Both spouses are required to be eligible for marriage by meeting the minimum age requirements. entering the marriage as a result of their free consent and the correct submission of all required documents. The minimum marriage age in Mozambique is 18 years. In the past, there used to be exceptions to this age where spouses between the ages of 16 and 18 were allowed to marry; however, this resulted in various issues over time. Child marriages and violence against girls, which Mary had witnessed at such a young age, became widespread. 

The country has one of the highest rates of child marriages in the world. According to statistics, about 48 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were already married before they reached the age of 18, and 14 percent of them were married before the age of 15. The statistics showed that almost one in every two girls getting married in Mozambique were entering child marriages. This has been curbed, and the marriage age of 18 no longer has age exceptions. Let’s proceed to the types of marriages in Mozambique.

Civil marriages 

All civil marriages performed in Mozambique hold legal status. It directly refers to the registered union between a man and a woman in a monogamous relationship where both of them have either never been married or are divorced or widowed. This type of marriage is officiated by a state-authorized registrar and takes place in the civil registry. Both foreign and Mozambican nationals are able to perform civil marriages in the country. This type of marriage involves the submission of various documents, and there are also some criteria that must be met by both spouses before they are allowed to perform a civil marriage. 

Civil marriages generally do not take long, and those in Mozambique often last about 20 minutes. Spouses are required to make a public announcement of their marriage, and before the marriage registration is finalized, the registrar has to verify all the submitted information to ensure it is correct. The spouses are required to write an application for marriage at the conservatory, which must be submitted to the registrar. As stated earlier, there is a waiting period after the notice of marriage is published by the registrar. 

This waiting period may last up to two weeks, depending on the registrar and the civil registry. The registrar checked to see if anyone or anything would spring up to oppose the marriage and prevent both spouses from marrying each other. After the expiration of the waiting period, if no one comes up with any reason to prevent the marriage from taking place, the registrar may then continue the process of the marriage registration. After the marriage is registered, a date is scheduled for when the ceremony will take place, and a marriage certificate is issued to the spouses.

Documents Required 

  • Proof of nationality (national ID card or passport)
  • Birth certificate. This serves as proof of the ages and names of the spouses.
  • Two witnesses must be provided by the spouses, and they must be at least 18 years old and not related to them.
  • A valid means of identification of witnesses provided
  • Certificate of single status.
  • Divorce or death certificate. This only applies to widowed or separated spouses who legally terminated a previous marriage.

Religious marriages 

The religion in Mozambique is diverse. The majority of the people living in the country are Christians, with about 60% of them being Christians, while the second-largest religion in Mozambique is Islam. Religious marriages are also recognized and protected under the laws of Mozambique. Children and Muslim marriages are the most commonly performed religious marriages. These marriages are celebrated in the church, mosque, or other designated place of worship of the spouses, where a registered clergyman joins the spouses together in holy matrimony. 

The marriage conditions under the two main religions in the country are quite different. Marriages in Christianity can only be monogamous, implying that a man can only marry one woman at a time; however, Islamic principles allow men to marry up to four wives. Generally, religious marriages cost a lot more than customary or civil marriages. Some spouses may avoid religious marriages due to the high expenses that may be incurred. The conditions that must be met by spouses in some religious faiths may also render some partners ineligible, which may force them to perform other types of marriages.

Traditional marriages 

Traditional marriages are widely accepted and recognized in Mozambique. These marriages are also referred to as "customary marriages," and they are usually carried out according to the customs and traditions of the spouses' community, with the consent of the respective families of both spouses. This marriage is conducted by spouses and their families without any external body laying out the terms and conditions of the union. 

In traditional marriages, men are allowed to marry multiple wives. Furthermore, polygyny in customary marriages is quite different from that in religious Muslim marriages because a man is allowed to marry as many wives as he deems fit without any limits to the number. In contrast, Islamic principles limit a man's wife count to four. Traditional marriages include a lot of ceremonial rites that may run for a long time, ranging from just a couple of weeks to several months.

Cohabitation or Mutual Consent Union

Cohabitation is also recognized in Mozambique. In this type of marriage, a man and a woman begin living with each other in a romantic relationship, and after some time, they consider each other to be spouses. This type of marriage does not involve all the formalities of other types of marriage, like civil, religious, and customary marriages. 

This type of marriage is easy to end because both partners can easily separate at any time if they decide they no longer want to be in the relationship. Some couples make cohabitation a permanent thing and start regarding each other as husband and wife after a long period of time living together.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Mozambique 02

Marriage customs and traditions in Mozambique

Marriage Proposal 

This is one of the most important aspects of the marriage's pre-wedding phase. Here, the groom officially goes to the house of his wife-to-be with the company of his parents or other elders in the family. The groom expresses his love for the bride and requests the permission of the bride's parents to marry their daughter.

Dowry 

The dowry is the next step after the marriage proposal is complete. If the marriage proposal is accepted by the bride's family, further marriage preparations come into play, and the groom is required to pay a dowry, which can be a sum of money or a long list of items in exchange for the bride.

Honeymoon

When most wedding ceremonies in Mozambique are concluded, the newlyweds often go on a honeymoon, and depending on how deep their pockets are, they may perform the honeymoon vacation in another country, which may last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Same-sex Marriages

Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Mozambique. Homosexuality has a legal status, and same-sex sexual activities can be performed; however, there are still various legal challenges that are faced by homosexuals and same-sex couples that non-LGBT members do not face.

Polygamous marriages 

Polygamy is prohibited in Mozambique. A man is not allowed to marry more than one wife, and marriages involving multiple people have no legal recognition or protection However, this type of marriage is still quite popular in most communities.

Everything you need to know about marriage in Mozambique 03

Marriage Laws and Rights, Costs and Duties

Laws

There are different ethnicities in Mozambique, each with their own respective laws of marriage, but according to the law of the country, there are officially four marital unions under which couples can get married: customary marriage, civil marriage, religious marriage, and de facto unions. Couples who wish to enter into marriage often have to combine all of these forms of marriage except cohabitation before marriage can be declared legally binding. However, some ethnicities, under customary law, allow the practice of cohabitation before the formal marriage process is carried out. According to the general civil law of marriage in the country, the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for males and females. 

Minors who are 16 years old are allowed to get married provided they have parental permission; in the absence of that, they can obtain permission from a legal guardian or a court before they can enter into marriage. Consent to marriage must be gained from both parties before marriage can be allowed to take place. Both the husband and wife must be mentally balanced before they may be allowed to contract marriage. Civil marriages are conducted according to the rules of the civil code guiding the act of marriage in the country. Under this law, marriage must be monogamous and contracted between a man and woman who are single, and if either of them has been married in the past, they are required to submit a certificate of divorce or death to prove the dissolution of the marriage. 

Often, civil marriages take place after traditional marriages have been conducted. Customary marriage is one of the most common forms of marriage in Mozambique. Marriages are performed in accordance with the traditions and customs of the couple's various ethnic groups. According to the laws of marriage of the Tsonga and Sena ethnicities, the process of marriage involves the husband paying the bride price required by the bride's family before marriage is allowed to take place, and according to the laws of marriage of the Lomwe and Macua, the process of paying the bride price is not practiced. Polygamy is permitted under customary marriages, and there is no limit to the number of wives that a man can marry under this law. Religious marriages are conducted at the couple's place of worship, which could be Christian or Muslim. 

Christian marriages are held at the church while Muslim marriages are held at the mosque; under Christian marriage laws, polygamy is prohibited, all couples must be married monogamously, and for Catholic Christians, divorce is not possible. Muslim weddings, on the other hand, allow polygamy; men are allowed to marry as many as four wives at once, provided they meet all the requirements of the religious laws. De facto unions are permitted in the country; couples who wish to cohabit as partners but do not wish to be formally married are permitted to do so; same-sex activities are permitted; however, they are not permitted to contract marriage or adopt, and they face significant discrimination in society. Levirate marriages are often practiced in the country.

Rights

Couples have equal rights in marriage in Mozambique; however, there are a number of rights that are not equally distributed to the husband and wife, and this often affects the wife in marriage more than the husband. They both have the right to be recognized as the legal guardians of the children born into the family, and they are also both entitled to exercise parental authority over the children. While other couples across the world have the same right to decide on the number of children they wish to have, the wife does not have the right to be involved in this decision; the sole right rests with the husband. Wives do not have the right to travel with their children without receiving permission from their husbands. 

Both the husband and wife have the right to be referred to as the heads of the household. They are both very important in making decisions that affect the health and comfort of the family. There is gender equality when it comes to issues such as divorce or dissolution of marriage in Mozambique; the husband and wife have equal rights to file for divorce, and the same requirements are required from both of them to finalize the divorce. They are both allowed to file for divorce on mutual grounds or for specific reasons such as domestic violence and abuse, desertion or abandonment, etc. After divorce has been finalized, both the husband and wife have the right to receive custody of the children, but only the parent who has the best interest of the children at heart is granted custody. 

By virtue of marriage, both the husband and wife are allowed to file taxes jointly instead of individually as they are considered to be one, unlike unmarried individuals who have to file separately. Both the husband and wife have the right to work and receive appropriate remuneration for work, and any form of discrimination due to their marital status is prohibited at the workplace. The wife has the same right to inheritance as the husband. 

In the event of the death of one of the spouses, the surviving spouse has the right to inherit all land and non-land assets of the deceased spouse. They both have the right to own property as they see fit, and they can decide under what regime of marital property the marriage is contracted and whether all property in the marriage is jointly owned or separately owned. They are also entitled to the right to sign a prenuptial agreement at the time of marriage, which ensures that all property acquired before or during marriage will not be divided among the couple in the event of divorce.

Costs

Many couples across the world are often faced with the big question of how much it costs to host a wedding. Couples in Mozambique are also faced with this question due to the many traditions and customs that have to be celebrated before marriage can be declared legally binding. Payment of the bride price is commonly practiced in the country, and the monetary value of the bride price, known as lobola, is often expensive; it is always a combination of money, livestock, food, or groceries. The high cost of lobola often prevents many young couples from marrying, and they often end up in informal unions. The average cost of contracting a civil marriage is estimated to be around 300 Mozambique Rials, which is approximately $18. 

As stated earlier, religious and civil ceremonies often make the cost of marriage more expensive than just contracting a customary marriage, as couples often have to buy modern wedding attire, accessories, etc. for religious and civil ceremonies. To answer the big question on the lips of couples, the average cost of marriage in Mozambique is estimated to be around $5,000, which includes the cost of the civil ceremony, religious ceremony, and a wedding reception. The cost of a customary marriage is estimated to be around $2,000, which brings it all to a total of $7,000.

More affluent families who want to flaunt their wealth frequently spend more than the average cost. Mozambique has become one of the most popular locations for destination weddings, and as a result, it costs a lot to have a wedding there. Couples should be prepared to spend a lot of money on the accommodation, transportation, and feeding of their guests. The average cost of the accommodation of guests for at least five nights in a reputable resort is at least $2000. This implies that the total cost of hosting a destination wedding is often more expensive.

Duties

Both the husband and wife are obligated to carry out their respective roles and responsibilities in the home dutifully so as to ensure the smooth and proper management of the home. According to the customs and traditions of Mozambique, the wife has a lot more duties to carry out in the home than the husband. She has a duty to properly manage all resources in the home; she is considered to be the primary caregiver of the home; she has a duty to take care of her husband, the home, the children, and even members of her husband's family. She is obligated to be gracious and charitable at all times. 

She is not required by law to obey her husband at all times, but she has a duty to respect him and his decisions and provide good counsel when needed. While the wife is responsible for the smooth operation of the home, the husband is expected to be the family provider, ensuring that all of the family's material and physical needs are met. They both have a duty to ensure the safety and protection of the family and one another at all times.

In Summary  

Mozambique has different types of ways in which marriages can be conducted. It is up to the partners to decide where they want their marriage to be and how much they are willing to spend. Religious marriages are the most expensive marriages to conduct in Mozambique. Traditional marriages often take a long time, and the preparations alone can range anywhere from a few weeks to several months.

The country has various natural attractions and destinations, which is a major reason why tourists get married in the country. Apart from the documents stated above in this article, some registrars may request additional (often minor) documents depending on the status of the spouse. This article includes everything you need to know about marriage in Mozambique.

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