So today I decided to write about something unusual, that not so business related as usual.
So a bit of background – I got engaged in Oct 2020 and as me (Vietnamese) and my fiancé (Malaysian) proceed our paperwork for marriage registration in Malaysia, it has been a long nightmarish journey for both. I’ve tried googling it out, going to the Marriage Department, reading forums, asking friends and whoever I got contacted with – they are very helpful but I feel there is no thorough source of information where it is easy to follow and less frustrated as you know, planning for is stressful enough. So I decided to share my experience as a female foreigner getting married to a Malaysian in Malaysia, I’ll share all about paperwork, process, documents needed, places you need to go & tips. Long article alert! But I’ll make it by steps so you can follow.
Disclaimer: This article is written in Jan-Feb 2021, if you read this in the far future, I recommend you cross check with the needed government bodies (which I will mention below) for updated forms/ information/ process.
Let’s start! –
So congrats on your decision to get married 🙂 You two have made it this far, just a little more challenges to go towards officiating your marriage. Now, you need to be aware Malaysia is a multi racial country that consists of Malay, Chinese, Indian & other minorities. Different races are managed by different government bodies. So the process of getting married to a Chinese Malaysian is different than getting married to a Malay Malaysian, and getting married to a Male Malay Malaysian is different than to a Female Malay Malaysian (exclude step 9)
For my case, which I will explain in detail in this article: Foreigner female (Vietnamese) & male Malay Malaysian (Muslim by default). The major steps are:
- Application Submission
- HIV Test
- Marriage Course
- Single Certification + Birth Certification endorsed by respected country (Vietnam) Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Confirmation of Eligibility for Marriage (yellow paper) endorsed by Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Pass Confirmation for Marriage from Immigration
- Endorsement from your nearest mosque
- Apply for Wali Hakim at JAWI & Syariah Court
- Final Submission at JAWI
For other cases (married to Non-muslims) you need to find more details from the marriage registration body (JPN). I recommend you come to their office and inquire for the steps/ process needed before you start. You can see step 5,6,7 below for reference as it will be the same.
As my husband and I both live in KL, so we submit under JAWI. If you are in Selangor, it will be under JAIS I believe.
Most important thing is that the local (Malaysian) needs to be the one who leads this “project” as it is easier to communicate in local languages if required.
STEP 1: CONVERSION (Only applicable if foreign spouse is non-muslim)
If you are to married a Malay Malaysian, convert to Islam is a must. This is the first step you need to do before anything else. If you are already a Muslim, you need to obtain proof of conversion.
What needs to be prepare:
- valid Passport + visa (as long as you are not overstaying)
- 2 passport size picture (with hijab if you are female)
- 2 muslim friends/ family to be your witness (in my case I had my Mother in Law and 2 of her friends to be my witness)
- optional: learn how to recite Shahada before the conversion date so it will be smooth during the session.
- proper clothing for conversion date
FAQ: Do I need to take course to convert to Islam? No. You don’t. But it is encouraging to take courses to understand what you get yourself into 🙂
Where to go:
I heard you can go to any mosque to get converted, but I recommend you go to JAWI (Jabatan Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan) as they process all the paperwork there, so it is faster to get the Muslim card.
I went in the morning at 9.30am, fill in the forms (there were a few forms with no English which my Mother in Law helped me with it), then the Ustaz came to say prayers and I recited the Shahada. The whole process took about 20 mins. Plus the paperwork and waiting time, I had my Muslim card after 3 hours.
STEP 2: MARRIAGE APPLICATION SUBMISSION
If you are from Negeri Sembilan, Melaka, Perlis, Kedah, Perak and Wilayah Persekutuan Go to: http://www.sppim.gov.my/sppim/online/benarnikahonline and fill in all needed information of you two. For Selangor and other states you need to make appointment at JAIS for this step.
Tips for those who submit online via SPPIM:
– At the HIV Test Result session, you can put Negative first so you can move on with the application. Because they only give you the HIV form once you hit submit button (?!).
– You can put RM150 at the “Mas Kawin” session. The min amount is RM80-250 depends on state. Just put RM250 to be safe. My husband put RM300 (because he didn’t know) and I’m not complaining LOL!
After this step, they will give you a checklist, plus the application form. Print them all out.
My husband checklist: he only needs to submit Number 1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Here’s my checklist: I only need 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10
Note that Application Form, print out at least 5 copies each, you will need this form a lot along the way.
STEP 3: PRE-MARITAL HIV TEST
After you printed out all the documents from SPPIM website, there is a HIV Test form included. You need to bring this form to a government hospital to take the “Pre-marital HIV Test”. I did mine at Tanglin Hospital. You can make an appointment online here. Note that you need to book 2 separate session for the 2 of you, you can choose the same timing.
We did the test on a Monday afternoon, it wasn’t too crowded, we spend around 1,5 hour for the test and result. My husband paid RM1 for the test while I paid RM100 for it (yes, x100 more expensive for foreigners)
STEP 4: MARRIAGE COURSE (KUSUS KAHWIN)
You can inquire for the course information at JAWI. Normally the course took 2 days during the weekend to complete. For us, due to Covid-19 situation, all the offline course are postponed, we managed to register for an online course run by ABIM. This online course takes 1 day to complete from 9am – 5.30pm. You can enquire for it by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org
I paid RM60 per pax for the course, this course is not required for foreigner spouse, only required for Malay Malaysians. But I strongly recommend you to do it together, as Muslim Marriage Law can be very different from your understandings.
This is a serious course, you’re required to dress properly (female must wear hijab during class) and on your camera at all times. They will take screenshot photos to report to JAWI. At the end of the lesson, you will undergo a 30 mins test of 10 questions, so take your notes!
I got the certificate mailed to me after 1 week, for normal situation, you are required to collect it yourself at ABIM office by appointment.
STEP 5: Single Certification + Birth Certification endorsed by respected country (Vietnam) Ministry of Foreign Affairs – This step will be based on your country’s embassy requirements to issue you the Permission to marry. Do make a call/ walk in for more info beforehand.
This step is the most important for the foreign spouse, you need to obtain 2 things from your country. In this blog I will go detail for Vietnamese spouse. As I can’t travel back during the pandemic, I ask my dad to help me obtain these documents on my behalf.
1. Birth Certificate (Original + 1 Copy) – Giấy khai sinh bản gốc hoặc bản trích lục nếu thát lạc bản chính + 01 bản sao công chứng
2. Single Certificate – Giấy chứng nhận độc thân bản chính có dán tem Sở Ngoại Vụ
- To get this you need a copy of your spouse passport and IC, bring to the People’s Committee (Uỷ ban nhân dân phường) in your area enquire for it. This cert only valid for 6 months so make sure to complete all other documents within 6 months.
- After you get this Certificate, bring it together with your Birth Cert to Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Sở Ngoại Vụ) in your province to ask them endorsement process. They will charge you a fee to translate it to English and get stamped. If you are not from Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, they will send your document to HCMC or Hanoi to get stamped (or you can go there yourself). Make sure the stamp you receive on this document has the one from HCMC or Hanoi office. (I’m from Tien Giang so I got 1 stamp from Tien Giang province and 1 stamp from HCMC branch)
The correct documents look like this:
STEP 6: Confirmation of Eligibility for Marriage (yellow paper) endorsed by Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs
After that I got these documents sent to Malaysia via DHL Express, I gather all needed documents to submit to Vietnam Embassy in KL, as follows:
– Birth Certificate (CTC with Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorsement) – giấy khai sinh bản sao công chứng có dán tem Sở Ngoại Vụ TPHCM/ Hà Nội)
– Single Certificate (Original copy with Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs endorsement) – giấy chứng nhận độc thân bản chính công chứng có dán tem Sở Ngoại Vụ TPHCM/ Hà Nội)
– Your spouse IC & Your passport (original)
– My husband single certificate issued by JAWI (if Malay) or by JPN (if he’s Chinese) and Endorsed by Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Wisma Putra Putrajaya. You can ask your spouse to do this first while waiting for other documents done. This document should look like this from JAWI:
After having all these documents ready, I engage an “agent” to help me with the process, because there are certain form to fill in and it takes a few hours to complete, so I use the shortcut, I paid the agent RM100 to complete the needed documents for me and gave her RM1005 (USD250) as the listed fee for this yellow paper (yes you read it right, USD250 – I have so many questions). Then I went home and get Grab to collect my paper from the agent so I don’t have to spend a few hours there. Plus the embassy doesn’t open to do this all day, they have a certain day of the week to take in the applications, in my time they take applications on Tuesdays and Thursdays, then during lockdown time, only Wednesdays. I wouldn’t know if my agent didn’t tell me. Even though I’m against all these agent thingy, it seems to be the most time saving way. A tip here: if you are going to engage and agent, take photos of all the documents to check with them whether it is okay to proceed or not before bringing them to Malaysia. Save your time and money.
If you need the agent contact, email me at email@example.com, If you don’t want to, it is absolutely fine to do yourself, just be firm when you are at the embassy and don’t listen to the agents there, just ask the front desk for the process needed.
I got my documents back around 4pm on the same day (Submitted at 10am).
The next day I bring this yellow paper to Malaysia Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Wisma Putra Putrajaya to get endorsed. There will always be a queue so its better to go early. The stamping process takes 2 hours for me with RM30 fee.
They don’t ask any questions, just stamp whatever document you ask them to stamp, so make sure you stamp the right one!
STEP 7: Pass Confirmation for Marriage from Immigration
You can do this step on the same day of Step 6. Because Immigration is just 10 mins drive away from Wisma Putra in Putrajaya, save you a trip there.
What you need to bring:
– 2 passport sized photos of each of you (4 in total)
– Marriage application form (printed out from step 2), 2 copies for each of you
– 2 Copies of your conversion card (from step 1) + original card
– 2 copies of foreign spouse passport and valid pass (more on this in a bit)*
– 2 copies of local spouse IC (he/she needs to be present in this step)
– Glue & scissors (Thank me later)
For my case, when I completed step 6, I ran out of time to do this in Putrajaya, so since both our our addresses is in KL, we went to KL Immigration in Jalan Duta for this. This is a walk-in service so no need to make an appointment. If you do this in KL branch, its upstairs, pintu B for Muslim and downstairs for Chinese/Indian. We were told that the process takes 1-2 days if you do in KL branch (same day if you do in Putrajaya but don’t come after 3pm), but lucky for us, we had it back on the same day.
* valid pass: I want to take some time to talk about this – to get married in Malaysia you need to have valid pass, to my knowledge, valid pass means these below:
– Tourist Pass OR Employment Pass OR Special Pass (issued in special cases)
- Temporary working pass or maid visa is not eligible to get married
For my case, my Employment Pass just got expired and I can’t travel back (Covid) to obtain Tourist Pass, so I need to apply for Special Pass in Immigration in Putrajaya. To apply, first you need to make an appointment online at http://sto.imi.gov.my/e-temujanji under Pass/ Visa category, documents needed to prepare:
– Marriage Application form (step 1)
– Passport with expired pass
– Spouse IC copy (he/she needs to be present)
– Any other supported documents you have to prove that you are planning to get married, in our case, we submit our hotel booking receipt for our wedding reception.
They will ask you to fill in some forms, pay Special Pass fee (RM100) and I got my pass after 3 hours. Do this step before step 7 if you need this Special Pass to proceed.
Tips: You need to wait for your current pass to expire in order to get a Special Pass, and for my case they give a 30 days pass only. If you can’t manage to get married within 30 days, do the same process again and explain again.
STEP 8: Endorsement from your nearest mosque
For this step, it is simple for us because we both live in KL, so we can do together Masjid Wilayah. If you live in PJ you need to do your nearest mosque in PJ. If your spouse live in KL, he has to do in KL. I heard there is a sequence in doing this, the male has to do first then only female can do. So I recommend you both go together and ask first.
By this step, you have done all the document required. Get them ready and bring all the documents in the checklist with you.
We went to Masjid Wilayah in the afternoon around 3, we met Ustaz Salleh to handle our case. He was very friendly and efficient, we got our document endorsed on the same day.
STEP 9: Wali Hakim (Only applicable for female foreigner spouse with no Muslim relatives)
As a muslim female, you need to be “given away” by someone called “wali” – means guardian. And this Wali needs to be a muslim too. As I am the first in my family to convert to Islam, I have no wali. Hence according to law, I need Syariah Court to appoint me one.
To do this, We first bring all our documents to JAWI. If you do things at JAWI, I recommend you come early and queue up before they open, especially during covid-19, as they limit the number of visitors.
After we submit the documents, JAWI issue us a letter to go to Syariah Court.
At Syariah, we were asked to fill in some forms and get the declaration form done at one of the small room. The lady did the form and printed out for us. We paid RM35 for the form.
After that we bring the form back to the counter and the officer ask me if I can read in Bahasa Malaysia. I said No. Then he asked us to get it translated to English and bring back to later because I can’t sign on something I don’t understand. Which makes sense. But the stupid thing is they can’t even provide and English version on the spot as I’m sure as hell I’m not the first foreigner that went through this. We had to leave and went to Civil Court nearby as instructed by them to get it translated, but the translation service is closed because of Covid-19. At the end, we did our translation at National Institute of Translation (Institut Terjemahan & Buku Malaysia [ITBM]) for RM110/ page (!?). We end up paying RM220 and waited 3 days for this with a lot of frustration. Remember do not sign the papers until they ask you to sign in front of them.
After the translation is ready. We went back to Syariah Court to submit (you must go super early like 8am) and to see the judge, if you come late, you have to come back again next morning. We submitted all at 10am, paid RM35, waited 2 and a half hours to see the judge outside of the courtroom. There is no waiting number here, the court secretary will go out and collect all ICs and call in one by one. You won’t know when is your turn. Make sure you wait in the correct court too by asking around. We waited 2 and half hours (very bored and couldn’t go anywhere) to finally meet the judge.
Inside the courtroom, I went in alone and sworn on telling the truth then the judge proceed to ask me in English a few questions: Where I am from, Which district I’m from, Have I ever married (I said No), Am I a virgin (???), Is there anyone in my family is a Muslim, How long has I been staying in Malaysia.
Then my husband went in and he asked my husband a few questions in Bahasa which I don’t understand. But mostly about how we met, where my husband is working, etc.
After that he proceeded to make judgement that I need Wali Hakim appointed to get married to my husband and wish us a blessed marriage.
To be an modern woman as I am, my experience at Syriah Court was a culture shock to me where they pressed on virginity and all of that, and no proper english documents. I told this story to all my friends and everyone finds it amusing – yes I have to swear on my virginity in a foreign country court to get married in the year of 2021.
STEP 10: Final Sumbimission to JAWI
After that we rushed back to JAWI for our final submission, met our Wali Hakim and get our marriage date confirmed. We requested for English speaking wali so I can understand too.
And that is it. We had our date confirmed 5 days before our actual Akad Nikah date (yes it is crazy). It has been a roller coaster ride from a horror movie that we’d been through. All the wedding preparation stress, the paperwork stress, the frustration we had throughout the journey, plus covid situation. I believe my case is among all the most complicated cases in Malaysia.
I do hope my blog helps to ease your journey too! Remember to be as positive and patient as you can, bring everything with you and organise everything so you don’t miss out anything!
If you got any questions you can comment below!
All the best!