International Marriage

International Marriage

Marriages  between foreigner  and  a  Cambodian   citizen, however,  must  abide  by  both,  the  1989  Law  on family  and  Marriage  and  the  sub-decree  on  the Process  and  Procedures  for  Marriage  between  a Cambodian  Citizen and a Foreigner (Sub-Decree No. 183/2008). While the process of marriage between Cambodian simply  requires  the  submission  of a marriage application to the local authority (Commune/ Sangkat) where the prospective  bride resides, the process for a foreigner to marry with a Cambodian national  is  more  complicated,   since  it  involves obtaining  marriage  permission  at Ministry  of Interior, as well as an acknowledgment from the Embassy concerned.

Substantive Conditions for Marriage

According to the Civil Code, marriages can only take place between persons who have reached the age of majority, or age of marriage, which is 16 years old.  However, marriages where one of the couple  has  reached  an  age  of  marriage,  and  the other  one  not,  are  allowed  to  take place  if  they obtain parental or guardian consent.

A person cannot re-marry if his or her previous marriage has not been dissolved.

Formalities and Procedures

A marriage between a Cambodian and a foreign national must follow the legal requirements of the Law on Family, Marriage, and Sub-Decree   No. 83/2008 of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

Except for Articles 76, 77, 79, 80, and 81, all other provisions of the Law on Family and Marriage are abrogated by the Law on the Implementation of the Civil Code. Under the Law on Family and Marriage, a Cambodian can marry a foreign national, regardless of their country of residence (Article 79). Cambodian government has adopted strict measures, under sub-decree 183/2008, to prevent illegal activities happening across international borders. The sub-decree prohibits all marriages arranged through intermediary agents, brokers, or business companies1, and equally prohibits fake or fraudulent marriages for the purpose of human trafficking, or labor and sexual exploitation. 2 Furthermore, the same sub-decree qualifies certain conditions in the Law on Family and Marriage, and in the Civil Code. In particular, Article 5, states that a foreigner who wishes to marry a Cambodian must be physically present in Cambodia, in order to complete the procedural requirements of the marriage. Instead of registering the marriage directly with the commune’s civil status officer, marriage registration requires a longer process, involving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Interior. To counter fake or fraudulent marriages, the government has adopted other measures, though they are not statutory or regulatory. One such measure requires that a foreign national, who wishes to marry a Cambodian woman, must be less than 50 years old, and be earning at least US$2,500 per month (Diplomatic Notice dated 7 March 2011).

Under Sub-Decree No. 183/2008, a foreign national must first contact his or her own Embassy in Cambodia, to obtain diplomatic notarization, certifying that the Embassy has reviewed the relevant documents of the concerned foreigner ,and that those documents are true and valid (Article 6).

After receiving the diplomatic notarization from the Embassy, the foreign national shall subsequently submit the marriage application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (“MFAIC”).

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